Ah, the live album. In the days pre-dating the Internet, the only way to experience your favorite band live was to hope they'd be playing a city near you so you can attend the concert, bootlegs from private recorders and soundboard audio and, yes, an officially released live album!

Capturing the perfect performance is always elusive and partly why so many live albums take recordings from multiple shows. Sometimes it's done to mask flaws in the set and other times to boost the power of a performance to ensure fans receive the full impact of a lights out performance (and their money's worth for purchasing the album). Without any visual accompaniment, it can be hard to place yourself in the show, but rock and metal's best have been able to transcend this barrier with positively devastating live records.

A great live album makes allows you to feel the energy of the crowd, the rumble of the bass, visualize the sweat dripping off of a frontman's face and, most importantly, place you in the front row of the greatest show you never got to see — or were lucky enough to attend! From the hair-raising thrills of Iron Maiden, to the loose yet dominant Deep Purple, to the quirky NOFX and beyond, there's plenty to choose from to get your near-live experience fix.

Click through the gallery above as we count down the Top 25 Hard Rock + Metal Live Albums.

Top 100 Hard Rock + Metal Albums of the 21st Century

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