At first I was reluctant to review a live album. I’ve never done so and wasn’t really sure where to start. Wildheart; a band whose Gypsy Soul EP was reviewed by yours truly almost a year ago, requested I give their live album Pumped at the Piston a review, and when I saw it was primarily originals that were not on Gypsy Soul I felt a little more comfortable. I thought maybe I could review this like any other album. After all I did enjoy their hard rock sound on Gypsy Soul, maybe I’d like to hear what they sound like live.
The Piston is a small bar in Toronto, the perfect atmosphere to hear a hard rock independent band. The opening drum and bass rhythm to the track Runnin’ Hot sound like the band is playing in a much bigger space; whoever produced the album did a hell of a job with that. There is a bit of a basic AC/DC sound to the song, not really the well melodised hard rock I heard on Gypsy Soul, but regardless I can hear some good energy coming from the speakers.
The band continues to feed off of the crowd through an abundance of hard rock tunes ranging from heavy blues-based rock like Silver Bullet, then there is the funky Smoked Out and the riff heavy Can’t Get Down. The only song to appear on their Gypsy Soul EP is that EPs title track Gypsy Soul. It would stand out on Pumped at the Piston regardless because I find it to have the best melodies and structure compared to other songs on the album and the live atmosphere gives this version of the song a lot more energy than the EP version. Also in the middle of the hard rocking live tracks is a drum solo by drummer Mike Parr, which no live album would be the same without.
One thing is undeniable is the production quality and all around sound is much better on Pumped at the Piston compared to Gypsy Soul. Hearing the band at their most raw gives me a new opinion of their sound. While I completely dig the energy, I can’t help but notice over simple the songs are. Given the surprisingly impressive writing of the songs on Gypsy Soul, I’d expected these live songs to have a bit more structure to them beyond just having loads of energy, but instead we have an album of some pretty generic rock songs, with the odd great moment like the chorus of closing track Always Beggin‘. Regardless, Wildheart‘s goal was to set out and make a high energy live record and that’s essentially what they’ve done with Pumped at the Piston.
“Silver Bullet” – Every song has the right amount of energy and every song rocks just about as hard as the other, but this is the song where I feel I really got in to it, so it would make a good highlight for that simple reason.
7 (Out of 10)