No Return – Live XXX (Mighty Music)

Sunday, 27th December 2020
Rating: 8/10

Celebrating the 30th anniversary as a group, it’s a rare feat in the music landscape, never mind metal realm, to document. French death/thrash unit No Return have done so, and thus we end up with Live XXX. Recorded in France at Le Manufacture in St. Quentin, those who are curious to know the recorded output of these gentlemen will gain a wide berth of their history through this 15-track, 70 minute-plus outing. Taking on a chronological history lesson starting with the earliest material first and working their way up to the latest offering, you can really hear the evolution of the No Return outlook and perspective – still churning out energetic songs, just with a bit more finesse and sophistication which tends to occur with seasoning and experience.

The older songs like “Vision of Decadence” and “Civil War” take on this savage assault mentality – the tempos, riffing, and vicious growls/roars beyond the tremolo picking and stop/start mechanics coming from a mix of second thrash wave/first death movement influences – think Sepultura meets Swedish death for reference sake. Not every album graces Live XXX – 1995’s Season of Soul left by the wayside – while the latest outings Fearless Walk to Rise and The Curse Within finish off the last third of the track listing. It’s great to hear some spine-tingling lead work and trade offs during “Disillusion” and “Disease” to prove Alain Clément and Geoffrey Lebon possess a higher level of technical ability than most, and if you want to pick up some French the between-song or audience interactive banter from vocalist Steeve Petit is quite entertaining. Lots of gallops and dynamic turns with occasional blast beats and slamming groove parts ensure that No Return isn’t a one-trick pony stuck in a specific high gear mentality – they are not going for commercial hits, adding in the right instrumental ambiance in places for “Stronger Than Ever” to make that much more of explosive impact when the guitars, bass, and drums collide. The audience probably left this concert battered, bruised, and drained of all that excess energy that a great metal show gives.

Who knows when we will be back to regular touring/festival action, so in the interim live albums like Live XXX are the next closest thing to get that loud, in your face experience.

No Return official website