Hailing from Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, Survive have been terrorising listeners for almost 25 years with their full-on thrash assault. Since forming in 1998 they’ve left a tantalising trail of 7 studio albums, but a document of their incendiary live show was something sorely missing from their discography. Thanks to Romanian label Pest Records that anomaly has now been rectified, and Live At Death Valley stands testament to Survive’s raw power and is the next best thing to being at one of their gigs.
Before Survive hit the stage a haunting one-minute introduction sets just the right tone; a microphone dipped into the very depths of hell, it ramps the tension up to an almost unbearable level until the band appear and break the spell with a barrage of power chords. Vocalist and guitarist Masuru ‘Nemo’ Nemoto immediately sets about whipping the crowd into a frenzy and you can almost feel the electricity that is flowing from stage to audience (and back again). Survive place themselves firmly in the thrash category but you can hear other extreme influences; hardcore punk and black metal are both evident, especially in the relentless drumming which unleashes furious blast beats, and in double-quick time, and the result is a sonic attack that takes no prisoners.
Survive have been christened the “Samurais From Hell” and that’s a pretty apt description. Their live show is not for the faint-hearted and second track, Wrath, sets the hounds free, and it’s here that the two guitarists come into their own. Gaku and Nemo riff in tandem and then trade blistering solos to lose the listener in a musical maelstrom, the two lock in well together and could easily rival Slayer’s Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman in terms of musical brutality. As the title suggests Fuck Against Authority is a real call-to-arms; it’s very mosh pit inducing and I’m sure crowd surfers were leaping from the stage in their droves as this number was blasting through the PA. However, Survive aren’t all out thrash, and a slower, groovy mid-section provides a nice foil to the faster sections which bookend the song.
What always attracted me to heavy metal was its neo-classical feel; grandiose songs with guitar lines intertwining and an overarching epic feel, and that’s exactly what we get on Immortal Warriors. This could quite easily be the band’s theme song, it swings like a wrecking ball that causes all sorts of havoc and with a huge, sing along chorus it seems tailor made for the live environment. This disc ebbs and flows like an actual Survive concert and by the time we reach final track, The Road To Hell Is Paved By Good Will, were left feeling battered and bruised, as if we’ve spent the preceding 45 minutes slugging it out in the mosh pit. My only real complaint with Live At Death Valley is the song selection; 4 of the 8 tracks come from their most recent studio album (2018’s Immortal Warriors) and it would have more satisfying if a varied assemblage had been chosen to encompass all points of Survive’s career.
Live At Death Valley is a worthy addition to Survive’s discography, and was certainly worth the wait. Fans should note that a CD version is also available (limited to 300 copies) which features an additional 4 cuts.
Live At Death Valley Tracklist (digital release and CD):
3. Fuck Against Authority
4. Obey Your Own Army Corps
5. Rules Of Lies
6. Immortal Warriors
7. Human Misery
8. The Road To Hell Is Paved By Good Will
Bonus Tracks (CD only):
9. The Road To Hell Is Paved By Good Will (Featuring Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan, Venom Inc.)
10. Rules Of Lies (Orchestral Version)
11. Seize The Victory
12. The Road To Hell Is Paved By Good Will (Live At Club Citta, Metallization Festival, 2022)