Nothing on earth quite offers the same experience as a metal show. The mosh pits, head bangers, and epic songs. Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to attend shows all over the world, legendary gigs that become fodder for iconic live albums. For those of us who missed out, the live album is a worthy substitute, not to mention one we’re able to bang our heads to over and over again. Whether it’s black metal, thrash, death metal or classic traditonal heavy metal, we’ve got you covered with this list, of the 10 best live metal albums.
10.Marduk, Infernal Eternal (2000)
Recorded from a performance in France, this live album from these Swedish blaspheming black metal warriros captures the live essence of Marduk and the evil, eerie vibe that they possess. Not surprising however, for a band whose material is centered upon Satanism, and the horrors of WWII Europe. Marduk’s vocalist at the time, Legion, unleashes the grimm, raspy and demonic black metal growl; and the band’s pummeling, inhuman speed displays the spirit of unholy darkness that comes off in each song, from the opening “Panzer Division Marduk,” throughout the entire double disc album. The blast beats and buzzing Darkthrone inspired necro guitar riffs mold an evil sounding sentiment throughout, on songs such as “Of Hell’s Fire,” “Those of the Unlight” and “Fistfucking God’s Planet.” There is also a cover of Celtic Frost’s classic, “Into the Crypts of Rays,” which makes total sense. When scratching the surface of this record, it is clearly not for the faint of heart. You need endurance, and a passion for raging, evil, depressing, and uncompromosing black metal in order to enjoy this one. But for true fans and afficianadios seeking to embrace the brutality, there are small hints of stellar musicianship and even catchy melodies, hidden throughout, in tracks like “Burn My Coffin,” and “Baptism By Fire.”
9.Sodom, One Night in Bangkok (2003)
In this live album, German thrashers Sodom lay waste to a crowd of rabid metal heads at a concert in Bangkok, Thailand, with a slew of tracks within 90 minutes of good old fashioned speed metal madness. The guitars and basslines are so clear and the vocals sound as if they do on record. Consisting of Tom Angelripper on bass/vocals, guitarist Bernemann, and drummer Bobby Shottkowski, the band’s classic sound is a legacy and inspiration for all blackened thrash/death metal bands to follow. The vocals are at center and, are the foundation held together by the thundering drums and shredding guitars. Fans ate up classic Sodom songs that span the legendary band’s career, including “The Saw is the Law,” “The Vice of Killing,” “M-16,” “I am War,” “Outbreak of Evil,” “Agent Orange,” “Witching Metal,” “Napalm in the Morning,” and many more. The cheers and roars of the crowd in between songs makes one feel intensity that leads up to each song. Thankfully, Sodom’s auditory assault was recorded and kept for the archives. This is how a thrash metal concert should sound.
8.Crytopsy, None So Live (2002)
This live album is from a performance in the band’s home country, Canada, in the city of Montreal. It is difficult to sometimes recreate the technical, brutal sounds that are captured on record when it comes to certian death metal bands. Cryptopsy does not have that problem, as this album proves, 100 percent. The band’s ultra intense and inhuman music comes off as if it were performed in a studio. The face melting and unbelieveable speed of the guitars, bass blast beat drumming and truly monstrous, cathartic vocals all bring together a horrifying, extreme sound that fans certianly had fun experiencing live, as you can tell from the chants and cheers throughout. Drummer Flo Mounier, guitarists Jon Levasseur and Alex Auburn, bassist Eric Langolis and onetime vocalist Martin Lacroix deliver a truly insane live album that will stand the test of time. Ear shredding brain splattering songs like “White Worms,” “Open Face Surgery,” “Cold Hate, Warm Blood,” “We Bleed,’ and ‘Phobophile,” were played with utter precision, and had the crowd without a doubt on their feet and moving the entire time.
7. Exodus, Another Lesson in Violence (1997)
This live album features the return of both singer Paul Baloff, and drummer Tom Hunting, who were on hiatus from the band. This is also the first album to feature current Exodus bassist Jack Gibson. From the opening track, the classic “Bonded By Blood,” this concert sounds like it must’ve been a non-stop circle pit slam fest. Thrash metal never sounded this tight, and although now it might be nostalgic, the riffs and urgency of the thrasy metal sound still reverb today as it did yesterday. Exodus is a band that should have been included the Big 4, to be the Big 5, but the SF Bay area thrash metal veterans have always raged on, clobbering anyone who gets in their way with a fistful of old school thrash. On this live record, which stands frozen in time, songs like “Pleasures of the Flesh,” “Seeds of Hate,” “Piranha,” “Deliver Us to Evil,” “Brain Dead,” “No Love” and others, let listeners revel in the chaos of speed metal’s in your face approach. You can imagine all the denim and hairwhipping headbangers there must have been at this concert.
6. Judas Priest, A Touch of Evil (2009)
With a legendary band like Judas Priest, you can’t go wrong really. This particular album, marks the return of original vocalist, the Metal God, Rob Halford. It is also the last album which featured guitarist KK Downing. Rather than taking the audio from one concert performance, this live record takes tracks recorded from shows on the 2005, 2008 and 2009 world tours. A band like Judas Priest has such an immense catalog, it is hard to experience them perform songs that aren’t major hits. This album features songs that although still performed aren’t the mainstream hits everyone might know the band for. Fans get to hear tunes like opening song, “Judas Rising,” “Between the Hammer and the Anvil,” “Death,” “Dissident Aggressor,” “Hellrider,” “A Touch of Evil,” and hits like “Painkiller,” and “Riding on the Wind.” Halford has one of the most identifable voices in all of metal, and his high pitch metallic screams soar to heights unknown in this live record, as the fans can be heard cheering and roaring throughout each song. This is definitely a live album worth checking out if you like Judas Priest.
5. Death, Live in LA (1999)
This live album is from the iconic this death metal band’s performance at the Whisky in LA, in December, 1998. There is also a DVD with the same title. Death was led by the prolific songwriter and guitarist/vocalist Chuck Schuldiner, but this line up for the live album also features drummer Richard Christy, bassist Scott Clendenin, and additional guitarist Shannon Hamm. The clear nostalgia can be felt and heard in the drunken metalheads screaming in the crowd, “CHUCK RULES!” one can be overheard yelling. The band’s set list incorporated new and old material at the time and was a good balance of gore and social commentary. Fans slam danced head banged, circle pitted to songs like “Spirit Crusher,” “Crystal Mountain,” “Zombie Ritual,” “Suicide Machine,” “Scavenger of Human Sorrow,” and many other dark, fast, Death tunes. A must for all Death fans, this album places listeners on the floor of the Whisky, to feel the performance, including all the beer, sweat, energy and aggression in the air.
4. Heaven and Hell, Live from Radio City Music Hall (2007)
This live record was a performance of Black Sabbath with singer Ronnie James Dio. It was taken from the world tour, in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, in March, 2007. Heavy Metal forefathers, guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler were joined by drummer Vinne Appice and Dio to perform classic songs from when the band collaborated as Black Sabbath in the 1980s. Ronnie James Dio truly showcaes his talent as a singer, with his one of a kind voice, a new generation of Black Sabbath fans were treated to a rare concert that for once didn’t feature the hits with original singer, Ozzy. Fans got to hear classics including “Lady Evil,” “The Mob Rules,” “Neon Nights,” “Heaven and Hell,” and “The Sign of the Southern Cross,” among many others. Unfortunately, this was the last live album the band took part in with their fellow singer, as Dio passed away in 2010 from cancer, at age 67. His last performance with Black Sabbath was in 2009. This live album leaves behind a testament to the power of his voice, and the importance of his history with the mighty Black Sabbath.
3. Slayer, Decade of Aggression (1991)
This is a double shot of Slayer, in the form of a double live album. It’s no secret, that not many bands come close to the intensity, brutality, and violence(all in good fun) seen heard and experienced at a Slayer show. This live album comes close to capturing the general chaos, of being at a Slayer concert. From the opening and the very evil eerie build up, and chants and crowd, this album will make you want to jump head first into the mosh pit from the very first song. This album has all the quintessential Slayer classics, including but not limited to “War Ensamble,” “Hell Awaits,” “Mandatory Suicide,” “Seasons in the Abyss,” “Raining Blood,” and more, on the first disk. While the second disk focused on the bands earlier albums, with tunes like “Blood Red,” “Captor of Sin,” “Born of Fire,” “Die By the Sword,” and more. Fans most likely went ape shit throughout the each song. Some of the songs were recorded in San Bernardino, California in 1991, while others were recorded in England, 1990. There is a certian unpolizhed rawness that lets listeners and fans not just hear the riffs and blast beats but feel them, when played loud enough. Slayer’s magic, with the classic now defunct line up of drummer Dave Lombardo, guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman and bassist/vocalist Tom Araya is etched forever on this live double album, and the music will always speak for itself. If you were lucky enough to see this line up of Slayer, you know the deal, but for most of us, this album might give your imagination a taste of what the madness was really like. Play it LOUD, and bang your fucking heads.
2. Motorhead, No Sleep Till Hammersmith (1981)
This was Motorhead’s second live release, taken from shows on its 1981 Tour in Leeds and Newcastle. The legend and myth of the band of a bunch of methed out rockers who loved playing loud and playing fast will live on into eternity with its albums, and the proof of its power lies in live albums like this. Flawless performances of songs like the iconic “Ace of Spades,” “Overkill,” “Bomber” and “(We Are) the Roadcrew,” are performed by the late, great Lemmy Kilmister on bass and vocals, “Filthy” Phil Taylor on drums and “Fast Eddie” Clark on guitars. Though this line up eventually disolved it was the first, and most revered in the history of Motorhead for the sheer energy adrenialine and power that went into the music. Fans and listeners can tell that this is genuine. Motorhead might have been early in their career, at the time but the partying was only beginning. Speed, Jack and Cokes, and endless nights of women and rock shows, the bands legendary status as kings of both Rock-n Roll and hedonism can be felt on this live album. Definitely for fans of metal, and one of the greatest, loudest rock bands on the planet.
1. Iron Maiden, Live After Death (1985)
Though one can appreciate the fact that after all these decades Iron Madien are still producing new albums and touring the world, lets’s not kid ourselves. With all due respect to the band’s current catalog, nothing can or will ever come close to the band’s heydays in the 1980s. This stellar live performance from Long Beach, and London, stands the test of time and still, after all these years, sounds amazing live. That’s because Iron Maiden is an amazing live band, whether you saw them at this show or in 2016. At the time the band did a great job of chosing a set list that was well rounded. Fans got to experience early songs like “Iron Maiden,” “Running Free” and “Wrathchild,” and songs we all today consdier to be the hits, like “22 Acacia Avenue,” “The Trooper,” “The Number of the Beast,” “Run to the Hills,” “Flight of the Icarus,” and “Hallowed by thy Name.” This live album is nothing short of magical, and Iron Maiden’s legacy will preserve the artform of capturing a live performance on record. Truly a must have for all fans of metal and Iron Maiden.