The first subjective list of «Best of 2017» releases is dedicated to live albums. The year 2017 saw some great studio album releases from bands from various genres, but did especially well in the live album category of rock and metal bands. I can highly recommend the following hard n’ heavy live albums:
#5 Alter Bridge – Live at the O2 Arena + Rarities
Released 8 September 2017. Alter Bridge released one of their best – if not the best – album in their catalogue, The Last Hero, in 2016. This album was recorded on 24 November 2016 in London, England, while on tour promoting said album and it is the best live effort the band has released to date. The quartet sounds tighter than on its 2010 live release Live from Amsterdam or the 2012 release Live at Wembley: European Tour 2011. And, especially, this album sounds thicker than the previously mentioned ones. Moreover, the release comes with bonus material and previously unreleased tracks.
#4 Annihilator – Triple Threat
Released 27 January 2017. I’ve been a fan of Annihilator since I was a kid but had never had the chance to see the band live until very recently. Their previous live albums are good and I enjoyed listening to them for years, especially In Command (1996), but there’s just something mesmerising about this Triple Threat live release. Perhaps it’s the combination of the band’s «Bang Your Head!!!» 2016 festival gig and the all acoustic and intimate «Unplugged: The Watersound Studios Sessions». Or just the immensely charismatic way leader Jeff Waters entertains the audience. Bottom line, this has become one of my favourite Annihilator albums.
#3 Metallica – Live at House of Vans London (Nov. 18, 2016)
Released 31 August 2017. Metallica have released countless live albums through their Blackened Recordings label, and even before that, the band released phenomenal live versions as b-sides on their single and maxi releases. Nevertheless, their Live at House of Vans London album recorded on 18 November 2016 is the first live album since Metallica’s Live Shit: Binge & Purge (1993) that was able to fully transport me into the gig. The 15-song setlist comprises (almost) all my favourite Metallica songs, or at least the songs I’d want to hear at a Metallica concert. Sonically, it is a masterpiece, and the band plays the songs with the highest level of feel and perfection.
#2 Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls: Live Chapter
Released 17 November 2017. Iron Maiden have released several legendary live albums over the years with their 1993 release Live at Donington being one of my favourite live albums of all time. Their The Book of Souls Live Chapter, recorded between March 2016 and May 2017 across the globe during the respective world tour, comes very close to the before-mentioned release. This album portrays the beauty of Iron Maiden’s live performances and highlights it with live versions of six songs from the band’s latest studio album The Book of Souls. This 12th live album is definitely a great addition to the band’s already legendary catalogue.
#1 Black Sabbath – The End: Live in Birmingham
Released 17 November 2017. As I have written elsewhere: “Black Sabbath have written music history, toured the world, excited and scared masses, and brought heaven and hell to earth. [This live album] might be the end of their phenomenal carrier as a band, but it is often argued that something has to end to become legendary. Black Sabbath has been legendary for quite a while in my book, but this final live performance has documented the final chapter and closes the story on the highest note. […] Thank you Black Sabbath for having given us heavy metal and countless classics. This one last live show will serve as the final chapter of a truly legendary story, and for that I will be eternally grateful.”