Redemption, formed in 2000, are an LA-based progressive metal band who dabble in combining the melodious sounds of the old 70s bands with the contemporary. There’s plenty of moments here that will have you recalling monsters like Rainbow or Rush, but there are some strong Eurorock touches in here too and there’s plenty of groove and grunt for those seeking out the more rounded feel of, say, a Dream Theater or an Iron Maiden.
Now let’s get this out the way. This DVD is fairly unsympathetic when it comes to covering the sound (in 5.1 surround) and visual elements of what Redemption have to offer. Funnily enough, the CD that comes packaged with this seems to be more of a balanced audio representation of the band’s abilities. However, if you do want to grab a snapshot of the band on the road, without actually being in “the pit”, then it certainly covers the basics.
The screen at the back of this particular show in Atlanta, Georgia displays words, pictures, psychedelic patterns, images, messages & videos which all seem designed to spark a reaction. Most, however, receive little more than a smattering of whoops from the fairly unresponsive crowd. My favourite had to be the words “Cancer is my bitch” which flashed up during a track written about cheating death and fighting the great fight.
The band as a live act seem a fairly static, play-straight-through, kind of band. Some gyrate with the music more than others, but mostly stay rooted to the spot. This inactiveness ranges from the rather sullen, stock-still keyboardist, cast almost entirely in shadow, to the vocalist who gently saunters around pausing occasionally to briefly engage with the onlookers. Consequently, Redemption appear every one of their years as they fail to fully engage – hardly an excuse when you consider the lengths that those old dogs Iron Maiden go to.
You’ll also immediately notice the the occasional bass drop-out and booming return here which occurs as the sound-desk tweak the levels. There is also the vocal cut-off as frontman Ray Alder continues to struggle with gauging the distance he can hold the mic from his mouth. The cameras are static, one full-frontal stage shot gets overused, but there are a couple of close-up cameras and one hand-held that roves around. More shots of the crowd might well have reinforced the connection between those on stage and those in front, but the fans are mainly hidden until the encore.
When it comes to the music, some of the riffs and progressions aptly display their love for bands like the afore-mentioned Maiden and Dream Theater, but when they find their feet and begin to thrash you’ll also notice their admiration for the power of Megadeth and Machine Head. They certainly aren’t afraid to use intros and radio rips to build the atmosphere. Conversely, the sparse lighting rig doesn’t help this cause using little more than tri-coloured spots and blackouts between tracks.
Happily the music soon picks up from a fairly feeble start and by the time they are hitting the complex construct that is “Dreams From The Pit”, with its multiple passages, hooks and melodic themes, they begin to really fire. It isn’t soon after that they are broaching more sensitive subjects such as 9/11, addiction and religious extremism which draw approving nods from the crowd. “Parker’s Eyes”, in particular, sees bassist Sean Andrews with his hearty 6-string Ibanez, grab the spotlight and offers Alder the chance to use his huge vocal to great effect. He sports a sweet, husky tone and displays strength, passion and plenty of emotion in many of the set’s slower moments.
Redemption find their highlights when they are parading the triplet of “Noonday Devil” (grubby and gloriously thrashy), “Nocturnal” (with its teasing riff that falls disappointingly away), and “Stronger Than Death”. This latter hit sports a sweet riff, gutsy underbelly and fiery nature. Other superb little numbers are “The Death Of Faith And Reason” which has menace, bite and plenty of thrash woven into it and their finishing flourish, “Walls”. This final track is clearly their biggest hit as it finally gets the reaction from the crowd that their skilful reproduction of the music has deserved. Here, we do get a shot of the crowd and it reveals some clapping, pogoing and even sparks one or two singalongs.
What seems obvious from this whole package is that Redemption write their best music when they find themselves at their most angriest or sentimental. Strong emotions certainly seem to drive this band. Here’s hoping you catch a show when they’re really pissed off.
(6.5/10 John Skibeat)