Released: 2002, SPV/Steamhammer
This is my second of 2 DVD’s reviewed this month that was filmed at the Brixton Academy in London. With a band as important and as long lasting as Judas Priest, there is always attached baggage that comes with the review. It’s impossible for me to not think of Priest the way they were when viewing what they are today. For the JUGULATOR (1997) album, I was completely satisfied with the direction the band took and with replacement Tim “Ripper” Owens. Then came the dreadful DEMOLITION (2001) album that has none of the spark of the previous albums and did not sound at all like a Judas Priest album to me. With that in mind, I was a bit worried about what the tour for that album would be like.
I find it a bit odd that since getting Ripper in the band they have released 2 studio albums and 2 releases that are live recordings – the LIVE MELTDOWN (1998) and now the live DVD. You could easily argue that it makes sense since DVD’s are really only something that has been catching on in the past 2 years. As far as comparing the 2 live shows, I prefer the ’98 live stuff. Too bad that wasn’t put on DVD…or better yet, too bad there wasn’t some unearthed high quality video recordings from say the PAINKILLER tour released on DVD! So you can see where I headed with this….and that is to the conclusion that this DVD just isn’t what I had hoped it would be. Another factor that perhaps jaded my view of the DVD is that the very night before this DVD arrived I had watched a live pro-shot bootleg from Dortmund Germany on in 1983. Why couldn’t the original tapes of this be dug out and released on DVD? Halford’s voice on this 1983 recording is so powerful and intense that it’s scary! Hearing and seeing how seemingly effortlessly he belts out the high screams in “Victim of Changes” or “The Ripper” blew me away. So now we jump to the DVD in 2002 and it just does not hold a candle to the mighty Priest as they once were. One frustrating thing about this is that I do believe that they still have it in them to be as great as they once were. Glenn, K.K. and Ian Hill are every bit as good, if not better, players today and Scott Travis is clearly a superior drummer. That leaves us with Ripper. Sure he is not Rob Halford, but he’s a bloody awesome vocalist and serves as a decent replacement.
So what is the problem then? Why are tings coming out sounding like this? Well, one big problem I have with this is the fact that all the songs are down-tuned at least a step, perhaps more. That of course means lower vocals as well. Some songs just don’t sound right to me at this lower tuning. It’s very noticeable on all songs such as “The Sentinel” or on “United.” Another problem is the direction shift Priest has went with in the past few years. They have been originators and a band that leads. Now they seem more like a band who are following what others are doing. They are trying to sound modern. They shouldn’t be caught up in this at all. They are the innovators, yet you hear them toying with non-melodic, down-tuned, and un-Priest sounding material. WHY?
Enough of my ranting….let me touch on a few things on the DVD besides the live performance. There is a 20+ minute soundcheck where they play "Desert Plains", "Running Wild", "Turbo Lover", "The Sentinel", "Machine Man", and "Lost and Found." “Desert Plains” for some reason sounds much better on the sound check. Unfortunately, the sound check footage is all in black and white. Some people like this and find it artistic. I find it ugly and boring. There are some backstage and interview segments that are way too short lived and not done very well at all. If the interview segments were a bit longer with some serious questions and Priest history being discussed you could understand having the typical “fooling around” crap. For example, seeing Ripper’s buttcrack on the tour bus, or seeing what he packs away in road box is not good use of quality time when it’s so short.
From the lackluster bonus footage, to the simple and boring DVD cover, this package is just not up to the standards of what I expect from Priest. Drop the modern “act”, write some PRIEST material and not semi-Pantera styled metal, bring back the REAL Priest logo, disown DEMOLITION, etc. If not, is it perhaps time to either look at bringing back Halford or calling it a day? This is just how I feel about the whole situation. Perhaps you’ll love it and the direction Priest has taken things too. I’ve been a fan of Priest for as long as I’ve been into heavy metal and a Priest album was the very first metal album I’ve ever owned…so I do care about what the band does and how they sound today.