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Satan > Trail of Fire: Live in North America > Reviews
Satan - Trail of Fire: Live in North America

Old and new, beats you black and blue - 78%

autothrall, March 7th, 2024
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Listenable Records

There's an earlier, rare Satan live album that I've never heard that was put out a decade earlier than Trail of Fire, but for me this was the first time experiencing how their material translated onto the stage. I had an opportunity to see them in Boston some years ago, but was sick and had to give up my tickets. So this is a little bittersweet, though I have high hopes they'll make it through the area again and I can cross it off my bucket list of favorite bands that I've yet to catch. Ironically, I'm pretty sure I got to see Blitzkrieg at one of the March Metal Meltdowns in Jersey, must have been 20+ years ago. At any rate, Trail of Fire dropped right in the midst of one of the better ongoing reunion phases in all of heavy metal's considerable timeline, so I had very high expectations, that were met to an extent with this 15 track, 75 minute beast.

They cover a lot of ground here, leaning pretty heavily on the debut album with "Trial by Fire", "Blades of Steel", "Break Free", "Alone in the Dock", etc but avoid the rest of their 80s material in favor of much of Life Sentence...which, to be fair, is the superior stuff, but I would not have minded at all a few of the better Suspended Sentence/Into the Future tunes appearing for a better balance. I get that some of this was from their first US gig (even though the track list is taking from multiple shows on that tour), and people were highly anticipating the 1983 material they'd been listening to forever, so it does make sense, but certainly those other albums were good enough to merit some inclusion. There's also a very DIY/underground vibe to this recording, it's mixed well enough, where you can hear all the guitars, bass, and drums equally, with Brian soaring over the top, but it's also kind of washed out and distant feeling to some other comparable albums where they put the instruments straight to your face. At the same time, for that very reason, this also does really succeed in feeling more genuinely 'live'.

There's some crowd banter, a fun intro to the band, but they really get down to business, and it's here that it really strikes home to me just how amazing this reunion has proven. That they've managed to keep this same lineup, that most of the band members were in their 50s when they were playing this tour, it's both inspiring and intimidating. Let's be real, most of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden would simply stare in confusion at playing some of these songs, and this quintet is so professional and talented that they make it all seem effortless. Every lead and lick is flawlessly performed, at least within the margins of normal live error, and the intensity is maintained throughout the early and later material. I'm not sure how long all of the gigs were, this might have benefited from being clipped together from a few of them, but on the other end, we are getting our asses kicked for well over an hour by some of the best heavy metal to never break the ca$h barrier. Why isn't Metallica or Maiden taking this band out on tour? We all know why, they don't want to get sent home in an ambulance every night.