2002 – Nothing Records
NOTE: I only have a copy of the live album, and not Still which was also released as part of And All That Could Have Been, but not everywhere. So I shall only be reviewing the live album.
I’m always interested coming into a live album. I want to see whether there is something in the music that gets missed in the recording process, or how much the performers enjoy what they are doing, or what kind of people the performers are, but unfortunately none of these little gems of interest came through on And All That Could Have Been.
The live set explodes onto the stage with Terrible Lie with no ceremony of introduction or crowd interaction, and then it proceeds to sound exactly like the album version. So does pretty much all of the record in fact – it’s less of a stand-alone live record, and more like a best of with a little bit of cheering now and again, which was disappointing. The band is pitch-perfect however, and their playing is laudable, but the whole thing just didn’t hold my interest. It’s probably because I could have gotten the same songs performed in the same way, but with slightly better recording if I searched through my extant NIN record collection.
The energy of the album does pick up at points, like in I Gave Up and March Of The Pigs, but sadly it doesn’t pick up all that much, and the whole thing just kind of meanders along. The music is good, but not great as I’ve heard it before, and the set list flows well, but, once again, not as well as the other studio albums.
I must say that the live cuts are immaculately produced. They sound amazing in terms of fidelity and cleanness, but that’s really not what I look for in a live record. I want to hear muddiness and human error, and I didn’t find it here.
Now, you might think that I’m being overly harsh here, and you may be right so I’ll take a moment to talk about the music itself. NIN’s industrial rock sound is well honed alternating seamlessly between metal rages, melancholy dirges, and EBM dance numbers. The songs are well arranged and stick in your mind, but they’re not particularly hard hitting on this record. In fact I might go so far as to say that the set gets almost boring at points.
All in all I will say that And All That Could Have Been disappointed me as a live album, but also as a regular record. It was done well, but, in my mind, it could have been much better, and, while I am a NIN fan, I don’t think I would be able to recommend this album. I suppose it might be worthwhile if you were for some reason hell-bent on collecting every Trent Reznor release, but if you’re casual NIN listener or just a general music fan, then this is not the record for you.
Live performance of the track ‘Hurt’ from And All That Could Have Been