Metal bands release live albums quite a bit. I’m sure it’s the same reason these days but back in the day, a band released a live album so that anyone who had never seen these bands live could get an idea of what they were missing. Also, in some other cases, certain bands had a particular dynamic or electricity that never came through the recorded medium. Not all metal bands did this well. Some bands put out live albums that made you wonder why they put out live albums. For instance, why did Motley Crue put out a live album when they are a horrible live band? Why did Poison put out a live album? I mean, really? At the same time, bands from the hard rock/metal era over the years have nailed it and put out some truly stellar live releases.

Trying to pick just 10 of my favorites was nearly impossible so what I made myself do was to list TEN LIVE HARD ROCK/METAL ALBUMS without thinking about it. Well, as you can imagine, the minute I finished the list I immediately thought of a bunch more that I had forgotten. Well, with that being said, here’s a few of my all time favorite hard rock/metal live albums! What are yours?

Iron Maiden – Live After Death

When Iron Maiden released Live After Death, I was absolutely blown away. As you know, back in the day, Iron Maiden didn’t do ANYTHING small or half assed. Iron Maiden always had a way of delivering the biggest and the baddest so when it came to releasing Live After Death, it was no shock as to how epic this release was. First off, the artwork was Maiden’s most epic piece album art to date. When you opened up the gatefold there were tons of live photos and the inserts had lyrics to every song on the album. I remember lying on my band with the headphones on while Churchill’s Speech played and I could feel the goosebumps rising. Hearing “Aces High” made me feel like I was right there and to this day, I still get that feeling from listening to this album.

Live After Death has some amazing performances of such Maiden classics as “2 Minutes to Midnight”, “Revelations”, “Powerslave”, and “Die With Your Boots On” but it’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” that makes this album the legendary release that it is. Executed with so much precision and thought, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” on this release proves without a doubt what a monster song it is what a massively untouchable band they were back then. All this and they were still in their 20’s. This is without a doubt an album that set the bar high for all future metal live albums and which still remains, in my opinion, the cream of the crop.


Black Sabbath – Live Evil

Shortly after I discovered that Ronnie James Dio was actually the singer in Black Sabbath after Ozzy, I went flying to the record store to buy the albums. I could’ve either bought Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules, or I could’ve bought Live Evil which was the best of both worlds plus Dio singing some classic Ozzy era Sabbath. Much like the Iron Maiden album, the packaging for this album was absolutely jaw dropping. It was so much fun trying to pick out what song titles were depicted on the cover by characters and on the inside of the album, the live photos of the stage and crowd made me wish I was there.

This album over the years would get a lot of slack from both the band and from the fans but in all honesty, I love this fucking album so much. There are some absolutely stellar moments captured here. The opening song “Neon Knights” comes out guns blazing and right off the bat you can feel the energy of this performance. I also loved that the band did something really unique by doing a medley of Heaven and Hell > Sign of the Southern Cross> Heaven and Hell (Reprise). At that time, I had never heard anything like that before from metal bands and I just thought it was the coolest fucking thing. To this day, this album remains one of my all time favorite representations of capturing the magic of a band in a live environment. This album should have so much more of a legendary status than it does.


Jorn Lande – Live in America

Jorn Lande has become one of my current favorite metal singers on the planet. Jorn, in my opinion, is the carrier of the torch for the late great Ronnie James Dio. Jorn’s voice is powerful and his material is off the fucking charts good. I will never understand why Jorn isn’t a bigger known name here in America but that is also probably because Jorn never tours the states. Back in 1996, Jorn Lande performed at Atlanta’s ProgPower Festival and his stellar performance was captured and then released as Live in America.

Hearing Jorn and his band live during this flawless performance is absolutely mind blowing. Opening with his massive “We Brought the Angels Down”, Live in America also boasts such awesomeness as covers of “Cold Sweat” and “Are You Ready” by Thin Lizzy a mind blowing Whitesnake Medley of “Come On”, “Sweet Talker”, “Crying in the Rain”, “Give Me All Your Love Tonight”, and “Here I Go Again.” This album is such a great testament that good, classic, hard rock/metal music is very much alive and well. If you haven’t heard this album, you need to do so.


Sabaton – Heroes On Tour

Swedish metal titans Sabaton is a band that quickly became one of my all time favorite live bands. Much like Iron Maiden, Sabaton has released quite a few live albums. I can only assume that the reason behind this is that Sabaton is a band that delivers the goods live in a way that has yet to be captured on any of their studio albums. WIth their latest live album, Heroes On Tour, Sabaton completely captured the energy, the excitement, and the power of their live shows.

Opening with their new ceremonial opener “Ghost Division”, I literally felt as if I was there. The connection that lead singer Joakim Broden makes with the audience comes through loud and clear with his witty banter but it’s the band’s performance that is truly captivating. In my opinion, Sabaton is the band that is worthy of carrying the torch for Iron Maiden when they decide to it’s time to bow out. They are more than capable of delivering some thought provoking material but more importantly delivering a live performance that sets the bar to a nearly untouchable height.


Twisted Sister – Live at Hammersmith

To this day, it still blows my mind that people will write off Twisted Sister as a joke band. They see them as the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” band and think of them as cute or as funny. What many people fail to recognize is just what a fucking heavy band Twisted Sister was and still is. Live at Hammersmith, in my opinion, should very well put all the naysayers to rest as this album captures Twisted Sister in all of their punk infused heavy metal glory.

Recorded just before the release of Stay Hungry before a sold out crowd at Hammersmith Odeon in London, Live at Hammersmith captures the grit, the intensity, and the energy that is a Twisted Sister live show. From the opening track, “What You Don’t Know Sure Can Hurt You” to the closing “We’re Gonna Make It”, it’s nearly impossible to feel the humid, smokey air of the Odeon as you listen to this gem. For anyone who ever had doubts as to just how heavy Twisted Sister could be, just listen to this album and you will be put in your place very quickly. It’s just sad that this album is now out of print. If you wanna hear it just drop me a line and I’m sure we can work something out.


Ozzy Osbourne – Tribute

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was huge news that Ozzy Osbourne would be releasing Tribute which was a full live performance (one of the very few that was actually captured) featuring Randy Rhoads. At 14 years old, I was ecstatic and ran (well, walked about a mile because fat kids don’t run) to the record store and bought this album. I took it home and I can still remember to this day feeling the goosebumps rise as “I Don’t Know” filled my room. Song after song, I just found myself enthralled with this album and completely oblivious to my surroundings.

Over the years, this album would stand the test of time as a truly timeless live album. Even putting it on now I still get those goosebumps and even find myself getting a bit teary over the gorgeously played “Goodbye to Romance.” I would learn many years later when I started to collecting bootlegs that this show was actually taken from a performance in Cleveland that actually was edited and overdubbed to make it sound perfect. I’ve heard that version and while I totally prefer the “imperfect” version, this official release will always be a long time favorite of mine.


Rush – Rush In Rio

In my opinion, Rush in Rio is Rush’s greatest live release. There was so much energy behind this release. This tour was the band’s first tour back after a series of tragedies in the life of drummer Neil Peart which had us all wondering if they would ever return. Well, not only did they return but they did so with this new found energy, love, and connection to each other and the songs.

Rush in Rio completely captures the energy and it actually shows how Rush could take even some of their most dated sounding material and in a live setting breath new life into it. Opening with “Tom Sawyer” and then going into “Distant Early Warning” is a great example of that. Those songs sound so fresh and heavy. It’s also amazing to hear older songs like “The Trees” and “Red Sector A” alongside newer songs like “One Little Victory”, “Ghost Rider” and “Dreamline” and have them sound as is they all came from the same era. In my opinion, this is Rush at the top of their live game and is hands down my favorite Rush live album. This one is a must have.


KISS – Alive

How can this list not include Kiss Alive? Yes, I know. We have all learned that this album isn’t necessarily “live” in the truest form of the world but again, this is KISS live and it captures them at their peek. At this point, KISS was a hungry band and just on the cusp of taking over the world and you can hear the fire and the determination behind every chord played and every note sung. This is also the first time we are introduced the phenomenon known as “Paul Stanley Banter.” This album has some great banter moments.

As a whole, Alive has some of KISS’ best material up to this point and they play it so well. They sounded like a band that was out to take over the world and you can hear the hunger and the determination that these guys had. They weren’t phoning it in as each performance is as bombastic as the other. I also love that this album caputres KISS’ street attituded as well. While they may have been all made up and freaky looking, these guys came from the streets of New York and the dark undertones of songs like “Watchin’ You” and “Black Diamond” totally bring that to the forefront. Whenever someone asks me what KISS album they should start out with I tell them, “Buy KISS Alive I” first and then pick up “Destroyer.” If that doesn’t get them hooked than nothing will.


Deep Purple – Made in Europe

In my opinion, you just don’t get much better than Deep Purple Mk III. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love the initial Rod Evans (Mk I) line up and there’s no denying the awesomeness of Mk II but man, you throw David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes into this mix and they are pretty much the Twix of hard rock. This line up possessed a power and an energy that just seemed to be lacking in the previous lineups. In my opinion, Burn and Stormbringer are two absolutely untouchable albums that I feel even Deep Purple themselves after this couldn’t come close to touching. The magic and the power of the Mk II lineup was captured on Made In Europe and trust me, this is a live album that you shouldn’t even think of living out.

From the bombastic opening of “Burn” to the absolutely face melting, jaw dropping “Stormbringer”, Made in Europe is all killer and no filler. “Mistreated” is such a powerfully soulful song and it’s even the first time I heard a bit of foreshadowing as to where David Coverdale would go upon his exit from Deep Purple (Whitesnake). It’s really a shame that this line up doesn’t get nearly the attention and praise that the Mk II line up gets but I do love that this line up is like a well hidden, well kept secret that is to be found by many and to be taken by such surprise that immediately you realize just what a powerful fucking band Deep Purple was in this era. This album is a perfect representation of Deep Purple at their finest.


AC/DC – If You Want Blood… You’ve Got It

When I first heard AC/DC, like many young lads my age back in the early 80’s, Brian Johnson was the first guy I was introduced to. After a few years, I found myself digging backwards into the Bon Scott catalog and for some reason it just didn’t do a whole lot for me. Yeah, I loved the song “Highway to Hell” and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” but it would be as a teen in the 90’s when it hit not only how superior the Bon era was but how superior Bon was to Brian Johnson over all. Bon was the total package and for me, it wasn’t until I bought If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It back in 1990. How did I go that long without own this platter of awesomeness? I’m not sure but I have made up for it by pledging my allegiance to Bon Scott to this day and on forward.

If You Want Blood You’ve Got It is a quintessential live album. It’s raw, it’s gritty, it’s got balls bigger than any fucking bull you can find out in the pasture. The opening song “Riff Raff” sets the tone for this whole album but let me tell you that it just keeps getting better from there. “Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be”, “Bad Boy Boogie”, “Rock N’ Roll Damnation” just to name a few are the ones that hit me the hardest but in all honesty, this album is absolutely flawless. Listening to this If You Want Blood makes me both happy and sad. It makes me happy because it reminds of a time when hard rock was just no frills full of attitude, knuckles, and balls made by people who didn’t give a fuck about anything more than rocking your goddamn face off. It makes me sad because AC/DC eventually became a band that was so larger than life that they had gotten so far away from that little band that they were and would never get back to it.



About Don de Leaumont

Don (aka. The Brainfart) has been a heavy metal fan since hearing it for the first time in 1983. Don is also repsonsible for all of the typos, shitty grammar, and kick ass content on this site. Don likes cheap beer, whiskey, Coca Cola Icees, going to shows, and hanging with his kick ass wife, two cats and dog. He originally wanted to name his dog Shandi but his wife said, "No fucking way."

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