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Rioting in the streets of Japan. - 86%

hells_unicorn, June 1st, 2008

The acclaimed line-up that brought you such classics as “Thundersteel” and “The Privilege of Power” saw fit to put out a live album as well before Tony Moore bowed out and the band almost completely relied on Japan to deflect the blow of the rise of grunge in the states. When hearing the amazing vocal and instrumental acrobatics on both of those albums, there is naturally a question of whether or not the band can recreate live what they had done beforehand, and as per usual with this longstanding New York speed metal outfit, the answer is a resounding yes.

Tony Moore’s vocal performance is spot on throughout, sparing us not a single one of those amazing banshee wails that he pulled off effortlessly on “Thundersteel”. Likewise, on ballads such as “Runaway” and songs that are fast but require actual singing, he is no worse for all of the high notes and nails everything on the set list. Although I prefer the Mike Dimeo rendition of the original pioneer speed metal classic “Warrior” on the 1998 live album, this one is superb and rivals the original Guy Speranza rendition both live and in the studio.

For the most part this album just cooks and continues to cook, with maybe the occasional slow stop towards the center of the album. For a band that emerged from New York in the mid 1970s, you can’t help but wonder if someone was channeling a yet unborn spirit alive in Birmingham England in the time of their formation. The remake of “Smoke on the Water” underscores how well the band plays fast, turning an otherwise slow rock song into a galloping good time; almost sort of a middle ground between the original and the over-the-top remake Metalium made in terms of energy. The only real complaint that I have about this live album is that the sound levels from song to song are highly inconsistent, most likely due to this being a compilation of several concerts in at least 3 different cities.

If you liked the two albums from the Tony Moore era, this is essential live material for your collection. I give a slight preference to the Mike Dimeo era live album because it maintains a consistent volume and sound quality from start to finish. As far as I can tell, there are a couple different versions of this album because the one I have doesn’t have the drum and guitar solo tracks, nor any of the in between spoken stuff. But with or without all of those extras, this is a great live release, and this is coming from someone who is lukewarm to the concept of live recordings as opposed to studio recordings.