Review Summary: Providing both the audience of the show and the listener of the recording with a unique experience, Live Upon A Blackstar is the perfect example of what a live show should sound like.
In the midst of writing and recording the fifth and final chapter in his long awaited sophomore album Wish Upon A Blackstar
(which is now locked in for an early June release), electronic artist Klayton took to the road for the first time in years under his Celldweller monkier with Bret from Blue Stahli as his additional live member. While on tour, he recorded all of the shows and their audio to put together his first ever live album, something that is a very interesting addition to his Celldweller catalogue as it takes several tracks spanning his career so far and present far different takes on them in the live setting.
One of the first thing you will notice is how nicely the show was captured on its audio recording. The crowd never overpowers the music itself which can sometimes trick you into thinking that this isn't a live album. The songs are presented in a way in which they all flow into one another seamlessly, which is another great aspect of the show because of the stellar setlist. Tracks like "Through The Gates" and "Ursa Minor" from Klayton's instrumental albums provide perfect interludes between the actual songs, and the pair of musicians act as multi-instrumentalists throughout the show covering all the aspects of the Celldweller sound. The songs released so far from Wish Upon A Blackstar
are (with the exception of "Louder Than Words") mashed together throughout the show in a way that makes them much more impressive than their original separate versions, a perfect example of this being "So Long Sentiment vs. Eon", where Klayton takes the formers verse and fuses it with the industrial metal of the latter making the tracks flow together perfectly. The electronic beats weave into the heavy riff that Klayton and Bret play on their guitars perfectly, which brings it back to the original verse for what makes one of the true highlights of the album. The concert opener "The Best It's Gonna Get vs. Tainted" also fuses the two tracks together in a way you wouldn't expect, discarding the heavy riff of the former track in favor of a dance beat that brings in some of latter tracks verses that really makes it all stand out.
Klayton has been on top of recent trends in music since he started his career, something that is ever so evident in his live performance. "Own Little World", a stand out track from the Celldweller self-titled debut, is warped with dubstup beats and screamed vocals from Klayton in the songs introduction along with the catchy chorus that brings it all together. "The Lucky One", despite being extremely cheesy on its lyrical side and very repetitive on the album version with its 8 minute running time and repeated refrain, is transformed into a crowd-pleasing anthem in its live entity in which Klayton gets the whole crowd joining him singing the lyrics. After the song ends and he and Bret depart the stage, the crowd usher them back on for a live rendition of the signature Celldweller song "Switchback", in which Klayton changed up quite a bit from the album version with his vocals on top of a mellow synth line before the song explodes and ends the show on a memorable note.
Live Upon A Blackstar
is a truly great live album that presents a different take on Klayton's music. In the setting of a live show he takes all of his songs and gives the audience a new take on them to provide a performance that is entertaining and unexpected. With the release of Wish Upon A Blackstar
finally around the corner, one can only wonder after listening to this what the half of the album we haven't heard yet will sound like should he decide to hit the road again after its release.