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Rock In Rio - 90%

Hattori, July 25th, 2002

Another Iron Maiden live album? This is the fifth live album from Steve Harris, Bruce Dickinson and company, following 1985's classic "Live after Death" and 1993's less than classic, but still enjoyable "A Real Live One," "A Real Dead One," and "Live At Donnington." "A Real Live One" and "A Real Dead One" were my introduction to live albums, and as lonely teenager, I really loved them. As a lonely adult, I still like them, but realize that there are better produced and performed live albums out there. "Rock In Rio," is easily my favorite live Maiden release since their "Live After Death" masterpiece.

This album was recorded in Rio De Janeiro, at the "Rock In Rio" festival, in front of Iron Maiden's biggest audience ever -- and they really make themselves heard on this album. The crowd sounds familiar with the band's newer material proving that Iron Maiden are just as vital as they've ever been. Six songs from the band's 2000 reunion opus, "Brave New World," are included in the setlist, with five appearing on the first disc. Two songs from the Blaze Bayley era also appear: "Sign of the Cross" and "The Clansman." It's interesting to hear Bruce Dickinson's interpretation of these songs.

The classics are here as well: "Hallowed Be Thy Name," "The Trooper," "Wrathchild," etc. However, when you have 12 studio albums and have released as many classic metal songs as Maiden have, fans are inevitably going to gripe about certain songs not making the cut, especially fans who aren't into the band's newer material. Personally, I am thankful for the overabundance of new songs on "Rock In Rio." The old songs can be heard on the band's previous four live albums. If you want to hear "Aces High," then go listen to "Live After Death.

So, how does Maiden sound after all these years? The band's performance is top notch, and the addition of the third guitarist gives the songs a fuller sound. Bruce Dickinson's vocals are great as well, although his voice is not quite a powerful as it used to be. If you've heard his singing on the "Beast On the Road" tour, then you'll know exactly what I mean. When he screams "the Mercenaaaaaaaaary" to introduce the song of the same name, it sounds pretty ugly. Thankfully, these "ugly" moments are few number, and I find that Bruce's vocal performance on "Rock In Rio" is much better and infinitely more inspired than on Maiden's live releases in the '90's. Bruce sings with uncharted softness on the opening verses of "Sign of the Cross" and "Brave New World," and even growls certain words and lines throughout the album (eg. "show them no fear").

Overall, an absolute must have for any self-respecting Iron Maiden fan.