10 classic metal albums that should be played live in full (but haven’t yet)

Album art by Iron Maiden, Limp Bizkit and Slayer
(Image credit: Press)

Last week, two of the definitive metal bands of the 2000s, Trivium and Bullet For My Valentine, announced that they would be going out on a joint headlining tour early next year. And, even better, they’ll be celebrating the 20th anniversaries of their classics, Ascendancy and The Poison, by playing them in full.

It’s a popular trend in music these days, but even with the likes of Metallica and Slayer playing their definitive albums from front to back over the years, there are still plenty of metal albums that we haven’t heard in their entirety live. Here are 10 legendary records we’d love to see played in full.

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Metallica – …And Justice For All (1988)

Metallica aren’t shy in playing their albums in full. We’ve had Kill ’Em All, Ride The Lightning, Master Of Puppets and The Black Album done front to back (or back to front) over the years. That’s four of their classic first five records. The one they’ve missed out? 1988’s sprawling …And Justice For All. Divisive at the time, thanks to that mixing job, these days the album is a favourite of many, many people. Get it done lads.

Iron Maiden – Powerslave (1984)

Although Iron Maiden are incredibly good at celebrating their legacy, the only time they’ve ever played an entire album in full is 2006’s decent A Matter Of Life And Death, during the tour to promote the album. Fine, but considering it is marking its 40th birthday in 2024, wouldn’t it make sense to play the legitimately genre-defining Powerslave in its entirety? Probably a long shot, but what an evening that would be!

Limp Bizkit – Significant Other (1999)

The nu metal rabble rousers aren’t the sort of band you’d describe as having great albums. Great songs? Sure. Plenty of stuff that kicks off live? Definitely. But variety is the spice of life, and this year is the 25th anniversary of their breakthrough album, Significant Other. So, why not? You’ll still get Nookie and Break Stuff, but the treat would be to hear deep cuts such as Trust?, Don’t Go Off Wandering or 9 Teen 90 Nine.

Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile (1999)

Trent Reznor has spoken very openly about the influence of Pink Floyd’s The Wall (an album played in full upon its release in 1979) on The Fragile. It’s surprising and/or disappointing, then, that Nine Inch Nails haven’t done a start-to-finish performance of their 1999 behemoth. They teased us by playing the opening four songs at Royal Festival Hall in 2018; now we’ve had a taste, we want the whole thing.

Slayer – South Of Heaven (1988)

Slayer have played the entirety of Reign In Blood quite a lot. They’ve done it everywhere from Riot Fest to All Tomorrow Parties over the years. But let’s not pretend it’s the only good Slayer album! For many connoisseurs, South Of Heaven was more than worthy follow-up to 1986’s thrash masterpiece. Slayer are back, so let’s have something a little different: The title track through to Spill The Blood via Mandatory Suicide, Dissident Aggressor and the rest? Who wouldn’t want that?!

Megadeth – Peace Sells... But Who’s Buying? (1986)

Reign In Blood, Master Of Puppets, Among The Living… all of thrash’s Big Four have played their definitive 80s album in full. Well, except one. Megadeth mastermind Dave Mustaine has had a temperamental relationship with some of the songs on his band’s 1986 major-label debut, chiefly the black magic-themed The Conjuring. However, as of 2018, the track’s re-entered the setlist, so surely a playthrough of this opus in full is back on the table?

Judas Priest – Painkiller (1990)

Outside of British Steel in 2009, Judas Priest have never played any of their albums in their entirety live. The fact that the closest we’ve come is when they threatened to play 2008’s patience-testing Nostradamus in the direct aftermath of its release is a shame. They could make it up to all of us by booking a tour for early next year to celebrate the 35th birthday of their beloved Painkiller right now.

Sepultura – Chaos A.D. (1993)

It seems absolutely wild that Sepultura’s 1993 groove metal classic Chaos A.D. hasn’t been played in full! Sepultura themselves rarely look back these days, but the brothers that formed them, guitarist/vocalist Max and drummer Iggor Cavalera, have gone out and played almost every album from their time in the band… except this, arguably the best one! It seems like a serious oversight, and it needs correcting right now if you don’t mind.

Mastodon – Blood Mountain (2006)

Prog metal superstars Mastodon have got experience when it comes to playing albums in full. When their 2009 masterpiece Crack the Skye, was released they toured it in its entirety immediately, and they’ve just announced a tour where they’ll be playing Leviathan front to back as well. Being as they’re both conceptual pieces it makes perfect sense, so when is 2006’s incredible Blood Mountain, telling the story of a treacherous mountain climb, getting the same treatment? Soon please.

Kyuss – Welcome To Sky Valley (1994)

There are plenty of classic albums celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2024, the likes of Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse, Helmet’s Betty and Burn My Eyes by Machine Head have already been played in full already. So, quite a big ask, but how about stoner legends Kyuss reform (with Josh Homme, yes) and whack out their career-best Welcome To Sky Valley album in its entirety to commemorate three decades? We’re dreaming big here.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.