When a band releases a live album, there's usually some great importance behind it, whether it be documenting an important performance, showing off some otherwise unreleased material. or just the band sharing a once-in-a-career quality set. Live recordings released for the sake of releasing a live recording otherwise tend to be bland, boring, and unnecessary, and if they're not handled well, can damage the band's reputation by painting them as desperate for record sales.
So going into my listen of Lento's 2012 release Live Recording 8-10-11, I was expecting an exemplary high performance from a band I hold in high esteem. Unfortunately, what I got was just a live regurgitation of studio recordings. There's not a whole lot of embellishment or change to the pieces, and though it is a pretty good selection of tracks, the concert just feels like listening to their studio albums on shuffle. Save, of course, the poorer quality inherent in live recordings--and when you're listening to music with as much dynamicism as Lento's, demanding the highest aural clarity possible, the limitations of live recordings have a tendency to become incredibly apparent. Predictably, the recording sounds as if it was taken from underneath the floorboards of the venue with the microphone placed inside a particularly moist shoe. What's insult to injury is that there's barely any indication that it's a live performance in the first place--the band never interacts with the audience and the audience themselves are scarcely heard, lacking even the most cursory applause. What's the point of releasing a live recording if it lacks any indication it was recorded live at all?
I know I'm being harsh, but as I said, the level of quality needed for live albums to be worth your time is much higher than that for studio recordings. Everything is fighting against them from the get-go, and it's an uphill battle to produce something that's going to be worthwhile. This is not meant to be an attack on Lento's live performances in general, mind you, but I can't deny that there is a difference between hearing a band perform live in the flesh and hearing a recording of that performance. While many artists (Lento included) deliver handily on the former, few make anything worthy of the latter. I don't think that Lento are just trying to churn out material for the sake of selling it, but I do think that they severely misjudged the enjoyability of this recording.
Lento are an incredibly solid post-metal band, and I urge you to check out some of their studio recordings (Icon in particular). That being said, Live Recording 8-10-11 isn't likely to be worth your time. It's an interesting release, but not quite substantial enough to warrant more than the most devoted fans' attention, and even then more for completion's sake than anything else.