Live albums are a very different prospect from studio releases, when approaching them from a critical perspective. Song writing can mostly be disregarded, instead the focus moves exclusively over to the performance, the song selection and the energy captured by the recording. As such results can massively vary, from boring slogs through what would be an immaculate back catalogue if the singer were fit enough to perform, to what can feel like a greatest hits collection but with slightly worse production. On rare occasions you can feel the infectious energy bleeding through, in a way that elevates the music to an entirely new level. These particularly excellent live recordings can make you feel like you’re in the room with the band.
On Necrostabbing at Göta Källare, Sterbhaus deliver a series of tight performances of their Kreator infused, blackened thrash sound. There’s no weak link to the band, everyone feels like they’re all perfectly in sync with one another. Vocals can often be a weak point in live recordings, especially with harsher vocalists who sometimes will dial back the extremity to preserve their voice for a tour. I’m happy to report that this is not an issue here. The vocals manage to retain the same tone throughout, and it doesn’t feel like they’re being held back simply for the sake of longevity.
The sound here is great, while not quite studio quality, the drums carry impact, the guitars are suitably crunchy, whilst still carrying enough clarity for the melodies to not get lost, and the vocals are never drowned out. The primary criticism of the sound that I can provide is that when the guitars do enter a clean passage, they can sound a little spindly. This is likely just down to the limitations of performing live compared to studio recordings, but it’s still a little disappointing.
The more major issue with this release is that there’s very little in song crowd interaction, or even presence of the crowd. There’s no sense that the band are performing to anyone, just that there are people cheering after each song. There’s the occasional chant of “hey!” from the band during slower moments but we never hear the crowd responding, nor do we hear them shouting along in any capacity. This really holds back the record from capturing the energy of a live performance. It is, unfortunately impossible for me to critique the between song banter on the record, as it’s all in Swedish. This isn’t going to count against the record in any sense, it’s natural to want to speak to a crowd in their native language if you can, I just think that it’s worth noting that I don’t have the language skills to be able to make any determination on the quality.
Ultimately, Necrostabbing… is a perfectly fine live album. It’s hard to recommend to people who aren’t already fans of Sterbhaus, if you are there’s a good selection of tracks here that are performed well. For people looking to get into the band, I’d suggest starting elsewhere, as this recording doesn’t add anything to make up for the drop in production quality that comes with a live record.
Necrostabbing at Göta Källare-Live In Stockholm is out 9th July 2021 via Black Lodge Records and can be purchased here.