It's quite hard to talk about live albums in 2018. As fantastic as they are to hear bands and artists in that live setting in a recorded form; it has somewhat been ruined by live phone bootlegs with horrendous sound quality and so shaky it's hard to watch. BUT, thankfully, there are musicians who make live albums and make them matter with top notch sound quality and now even 4K quality visuals to make you wonder if getting beer spilled on you by a drunkard during your favorite song is worth it anymore. These are just ten fine examples of that. In the interest of fairness, this is in alphabetical order.
Accept- Symphonic Terror- Live At Wacken 2017
FFO- Classic Metal, Symphonic Metal
In what was at the time a once in a lifetime opportunity; Accept played the 2017 edition of Wacken separated into three smaller sets. A set of newer Accept songs, a set of classic orchestrations, and a set of classic Accept songs with the full blown orchestra. The clarity on this album is top notch and it makes you wish you could have been there to see it all. Thankfully with this Blu Ray/CD set, you can relive it any time you want. For the classic metalheads, classical fans and those that are both, it's a must have.
Alice Cooper- A Paranormal Evening at the Olympia Paris
FFO- Classic Rock, Heavy Metal
Alice Cooper still puts on one of the greatest rock shows in 2018 with this release showcasing the classic Alice Cooper songs you know and love, and the newer songs that have become live staples. The band is top notch, the song selection is perfect, and the sound quality is just fantastic. Is it the best live Cooper album? Who's to say. But it is definitely worth a listen.
Amon Amarth- The Pursuit of Vikings- Live at Summer Breeze
FFO- Viking Metal, Melodic Death Metal
Easily the most consistent metal band of recent memory, Amon Amarth returns before their next album to release this astonishing live spectacle. This showcases both of their live sets at Summer Breeze 2017 plus a nearly two hour documentary! A sheer delight for the vikings in all of us and well worth checking out.
Anneke van Giersbergen- Symphonized
FFO- Atmospheric Rock, Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Symphonic Metal
The second release on this list to feature a symphony; Anneke van Giersbergen (one of the greatest voices in music, PERIOD!) graces our ears once again with a 25 year retrospective of her career; back by Residentie Orkest The Hague conducted by Arjan Tien. Everything from The Gathering to VUUR is covered here in mindblowing Symphonic arrangements. Much like mentioned with Accept earlier, wherer you are an Anneke fan, a symphonic fan or both; this has MUST HAVE written all over it!
Ayreon- Ayreon Universe
FFO- Progressive Metal, Arjen Anthony Lucassen
Another showing by Anneke on this list, who would have guessed, haha. In something as a nearly career long fan I never would have expected; Ayreon FINALLY played live and we have been blessed to have this been recorded for all of us to enjoy. A great career retrospective featuring some of the best Ayreon songs (and those that fit best in a live setting). It was amazing enough to get The Live Equation, which any of us would have guessed was a one time live deal, but now getting to hear classic Ayreon songs done by some of the greatest voices and musicians in the business? It's too good to be true, but thankfully, it is true and I couldn't be happier.
Devin Townsend Project- Ocean Machine- Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv
FFO- Progressive Metal, Hevy Devy
In what will most likely be the final release under the DTP moniker, the band performed in 2017 for two sets to be recorded. One set of classic songs by request, the other performing what may be the most celebrated Devin Townsend album, Ocean Machine with...you guessed it...A SYMPHONY! It's almost as if Symphonies and Metal work seamlessly together...But this release has everything I could possibly want form a Hevy Devy live album and the more I hear it, the more it just feels like the perfect send off to this band. I've seen this band 8 times total and I am fortunate for every opportunity. Now it's time to see what Devin and Co. do in their respective endeavors.
Fates Warning- Live Over Europe
FFO- Progressive Metal
You guessed it! Fates Warning toured Europe touring behind what is quite possibly their best album, Theories of Flight. Considering it has been nearly two decades since the last FW live album, this was a very welcome thing to see. Mainly focusing on Material not heard on the first FW album, the band proves that they are at the absolute top of their game and I simply can't wait for the next album. That fire is burning bright for the band and this live release proves it.
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Rock
Haken is one of the most celebrated modern prog bands with good reason. They can do everything from the classic prog rock of yesteryear, get down tuned and brutally heavy when needed, or sound as poppy as any 80s pop song; it's up to them. This first live album from the band showcases all 4 albums up to that time with some of their best songs from every album. Haken are an incredible experience live and this live release shows you why.
Opeth- Garden Of The Titans (Opeth Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre)
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Progressive Death Metal
Say what you want about Opeth in 2018, but they still put on a killer show and this live release showcases everything they are capable of today. Whether it's classics like Demon of the Fall or new live staples like Sorceress; The band has done no wrong to me yet and I don't see that ever changing. IF they can keep up this live quality; their studio quality will match that on the next album, I can feel it.
Steven Wilson- Home Invasion: In Concert At The Royal Albert Hall
FFO- Progressive Rock, Crying
Steven Wilson live...if you've never experienced it, you haven't experienced a true emotion in a concert setting. Home Invasion brilliantly showcases that in all facets. Not only featuring work from ALL of his solo , he has also graced us all by incorporating Porcupine Tree songs into the set, which is what every fan wants if the band is not getting back together. Though I didn't get to experience this tour live, I still choke up hearing some of these songs live; what a great feeling that is when music can move you that much. A true prog live release that is worthy of your time.
And there we go, folks! 10 live albums of 2018 that showcase very unique styles ranging from symphonic to Melodeath to just solid live shows. It also kind of shows that 2018 was a big year for Prog live albums, which is never a bad thing to me. Prog fans love setting up their home theaters and enjoying some great live music from home, this more than fills that need. Hopefully it will for you as well.
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
That Drummer Guy: Radio DJ, Interviewer, Reviewer, overall...an OK guy.