Livesay: ‘Scars’

Released on July 26, 2023 (BMI Music)

Livesay are back with a new EP and their first record of new material since their full-length album Frozen Hell, which was released back in 2016. I am not counting the compilation album Chronicles (2018) that included two unreleased tracks and one new song (“International Man”). Getting an album out in record time has never been Livesay‘s priority since there has also been a significant gap of time between their other releases consisting of Livesay (1996), Darkest Hour (2000), Awaken The Giant (2010). With so much time between releases, it’s not that surprising that the cast of characters changes from one album to the next except for the band’s founder and guitarist Gregg Livesay.

The EP scars features of course Gregg Livesay on guitar, Mike Gill on lead vocals, Mark Zito on keyboards, Rich Andrews on bass and Tim Huntington on drums. The latter also played on Frozen Hell but was apparently let go from Livesay before the release of the EP Scars. Whatever happened to him (there are always two and sometimes three sides to a story), his drumming is really good on Scars. If you would listen to Frozen Hell, you would likely not be able to make out that it’s the same band that just released the EP Scars. That’s how different the songs are this time around and I have to say, there’s just a huge improvement with the Scars EP. Frozen Hell had the band playing the songs at quite a faster pace. This time around, the songs have lots of time to breathe, are all in the mid-tempo range and thankfully not so keyboard heavy. The songs also feel like they have been much better constructed this time around.

Scars kicks off with “Crusher of Souls” which is a cool track that builds up quite nicely. Mike Gill is definitely a step up from Livesay‘s previous lead vocalist Shawn Pelata whose voice didn’t quite seem to fit the smorgasbord of instruments offered by his bandmates on Frozen Hell. On Scars, the music complements Gill‘s singing while on Frozen Hell, it sometimes felt like Pelata was fighting the music with his singing to get the attention. If anything, the songs on Scars remind me of classic era Masterplan where it felt like singer Jorn Lande was telling a story on each song while taking you through some musical peaks and valleys. Livesay‘s songs have an epic feel to them this time around and particularly on the last track “God of The Arena” which features a stirring and really cool keyboard solo to end the song. Who would have thought that would work so well? It’s probably my favorite track on the album.

The other two songs on Scars are great as well starting with the single “Walk Away” (which got the video treatment) and the title track. “Walk Away” is probably the most commercially accessible song on the EP. It starts with an eerie keyboard intro before a keyboard heavy riff gets things going just prior to Gill starts to sing. I think people are going to be hard pressed not to sing along to the chorus section of the song. The title track kicks things off with a cool guitar solo which you would expect from a guitar virtuoso such as Gregg Livesay before Gill slows things down a bit during the verses. I find the song takes you on a bit of a journey and the chorus section is quite catchy and melodic, which is a good thing.

It’s quite clear that Livesay have emphasized quality over quantity this time around and they have to be commended for doing that. There is not one weak track on the EP Scars. It’s just quality songs from start to finish. I am now looking at Livesay in a much different light than I ever did in the past.

Track List:
01. Crusher of Souls
02. Walk Away
03. Scars
04. God of The Arena

Band Members:
Mike Gill – lead vocals
Gregg Livesay – guitars
Mark Zito – keyboards
Rich Andrews – bass
Tim Huntington – drums

Recorded and engineered by BJ Zampa Studios and Nick Bellmore at Dexters Lab Studios
Mixed and mastered by Nick Bellmore at Dexters Lab Studios 

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, August 2023

Livesay‘s “Walk Away” video