Cast: Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing, Dave Hill, Scott Travis
To me Judas Priest's reunion album "Angel Of Retribution" was the best heavy metal record of the past 10 years, hands down. Not only did the record capture the magic that made Judas Priest one of the greatest acts of the 80s but it also contained fresh ideas and made best use of Rob Halford's matured voice, giving him a bit more breadth and personality than during his 80s shriekfests.
Now, here to celebrate the band's reunion with Rob Halford and the loyalty and support their fans have shown them following the reformation, Priest has prepared a live concert DVD called "Rising In The East."
Recorded at Tokyo's world-famed Budokan Stadium during the "Retribution" tour the release offers a 2-hour escape into some of metal's greatest songs.
The band chose "Hellion/Electric Eye" as the opener for the show once again. It served as the opener for decades almost uninterrupted and again I am sure many fans must have had goose bumps running down their backs when the "Hellion" guitar harmony came out of the speakers, announcing the arrival of the Metal Gods.
Unmoving, Rob Halford delivers almost the entire song, casting his magic over the crowd while Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing deliver their licks to the fans. Following the opener, Judas Priest dives into a series of classic tracks, such as the hymn "Metal Gods," "Riding On The Wind" and "The Ripper." All of them are delivered precisely and to the point with concise playing and driving vocals.
The stadium then stands on its head as the band intonates "Judas Is Rising," the killer track that put them back into the hearts of metal fans the second it opened the "Angel Of Retribution" album. It is a driving track with a continuous triplet double-bass drum that blows your mind – easily of the most taxing piece to play in the entire set and Glenn Tipton appropriately asks the fans to give a nod to drummer Scott Travis for pulling it off with clockwork-like precision.
And the list goes on. Countless Priest classics and a good number of tracks from the new album made it onto the set list. Highlights include early classics such as "Breaking The Law," "Living After Midnight," "Diamonds And Rust," or "Victim Of Changes," tracks from the glory days, including the perennially popular "You've Got Another Thing Coming," as well as "Turbo Lover," "Painkiller," or "Hot Rockin'," and of course the latest smash hits, such as "Revolution," "Worth Fighting For," and "Hellrider" among many others. The set list reads like a "Best of the Best of Judas Priest."
I was missing tracks from the "Defenders of the Faith" album, personally, though. No "Freewheel Burning" or "Love Bites" to be found, but you can't have it all, I suppose. Overall the set list is pretty cool and represents a good mix of tracks that span the band's 30-something-year career.
It was evident from "Angel Of Retribution" already that Rob Halford's voice has matured quite a bit over the years and I was curious to see if he can still deliver the glass-cutting screams. Well, he can, but maybe not as frequent as 20 years ago. Nothing wrong with that, as we're all not getting any younger, and considering that as opposed to many other vocalists of old, he's recognizing his limitations these days and carefully works around them. Even though he may be a bit past his prime, I think it is important to realize that during the 80s Rob Halford was one of the preeminent vocalists of the genre and even with a slightly reduced vocal capacity he puts to shame most other metal singers dead or alive.
Rhino Entertainment is delivering this concert on a sparkling DVD. The image is razor sharp and well defined even under the most challenging lighting conditions. Colors are brutally vibrant to perfectly reproduce the dynamic large-scale light show the band puts on for the gig. Black levels are good and makes for a great viewing that leaves nothing to be desired.
The 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track is voluminous and dynamic. With a wide frequency response it manages to perfectly capture the live feel of the show with a great bass extension and clean high ends. Surrounds are used to beef up the sound field and give it more muscle as it envelops the viewer.
No extras are included on the release at all. This is a pure concert DVD, but a fine one at that.
As a "Judas Priest" fan of old, it was great for me to see how the band has been embraced by their fan base once again and how they deliver the goods. We may all be a little older but when Rob Halford gives you his commanding stare, when Glenn Tipton's fingers jump across the fretboard while he's putting on a nonchalant smile, and when K.K.'s going crazy with his whammy bar in his solo sections you know you're never getting to old for good old metal. You just gotta love the Metal Gods!