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Still the greatest heavy metal band out there - 85%

kluseba, November 21st, 2020
Written based on this version: 2020, 2CD, Parlophone

I was surprised to read many negative things about this live album even before it was released and when people could only listen to two singles. Some people claimed that no one needs yet another Iron Maiden live record. Others mentioned that the band sounds old and tired. There were complaints about Bruce Dickinson's vocals that were apparently out of tone and rhythm. Some fans criticized the lack of power regarding the thin guitar sound. I read that Nicko McBrain's drum play was too simplified and slow. The production was criticized overall and especially the lack of live atmosphere. I heard that there were almost no interactions between Bruce Dickinson and the Mexican fans.

Bollocks! This is Iron Maiden's best live album since Flight 666 eleven years ago. The set list is absolutely brilliant and features timeless classics such as ''Run to the Hills'', more obscure epics such as ''Sign of the Cross'' and even a song that has never been published on any live record before with ''For the Greater Good of God''. The band has excellent chemistry and performs with a balanced mixture of passion and precision. Bruce Dickinson's vocal sound incredible for a singer who was sixty-one years old when this show was recorded. His interactions with the crowd are dynamic as can be witnessed in album highlights ''Where Eagles Dare'', ''The Clansman'' and ''Iron Maiden'' in particular. The production is raw but this suits a heavy metal live album that should never sound too perfect and polished.

There are only very few elements to criticize. The crowd sounds a little bit quiet from time to time which is certainly not due to a lack of motivation since unofficial footage from the shows proves how enthusiastic the Mexican fans were. My best guess is that I wasn't planned to even release an official live album back when this was recorded and that it was only done to offer fans something to listen to in a time when live concerts and festivals can't take place which is a very generous gesture.The guitar sound could be a little bit more powerful indeed and especially the rhythm guitar work is lacking some punch. I would have liked to hear some more interactions between Bruce Dickinson and the fans and don't understand why they have been cut between songs as this element is certainly a strength of energetic live records.

In the end, Iron Maiden's Nights of the Dead, Legacy of the Beast: Live in Mexico City is a very decent live album that convinces with excellent band chemistry, an entertaining and dynamic lead singer and a diversified and balanced set list. In addition to this, the detailed cover artwork and colourful booklet look absolutely gorgeous as well. In my opinion, this is the band's best artwork since Best of the Beast released nearly two and a half decades ago. This album might not compete with the band's greatest hours as witnessed on Live After Death when the band was at the height of its career or on Rock in Rio when the band was energized by the return of singer Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith. However, this album sounds much better than lackluster compilative efforts such as A Real Live One, A Real Dead One or even the average previous live album The Book of Souls: Live Chapter. This release is pretty much on the same level as En Vivo and Death on the Road. It's not an essential live record recommended to any heavy metal fan but it's most certainly a must have for any Iron Maiden fan out there. This album proves once again that Iron Maiden has always been and still is one of the greatest live bands in the world.

Now that this point has been made clear again, the band should think about releasing the new studio album it has apparently already recorded some time ago but delayed due to the Legacy of the Beast tour and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. AC/DC have shown how to deal with the situation. They have sat on their new album for nearly two years but have decided to release their new album after the first wave of the pandemic. Iron Maiden should release its next studio album regardless of potential Legacy of the Beast tour dates once the second wave of the pandemic will be over come spring or summer next year. I can't wait to hear what these legends have been working on as this sextet is still the most relevant heavy metal band out there. Up the Irons!