Here's this whole Judas Priest review, and Judge Paul Corupe goes without a "Breakin' the Law" pun. I tell ya, DVD Verdict standards are slipping.
Few rock 'n' roll bands can manage 30 years without totally self-destructing. When one of heavy metal's most notorious groups can weather line-up changes, fickle popular music tastes, and the trials and tribulations of fame without sacrificing their rock overlord status, you know there's something special about them. After Rob Halford rejoined Judas Priest in 2003 after almost a decade pursuing various solo projects, fans knew that the old guard was once again poised to rise from the ashes and regain their place as one of the most influential metal bands of all time.
This 2005 concert at Tokyo's Budokan, shot just two years after Halford's return to the fold, was in support of their album from earlier that year, Angel of Retribution. Released shortly thereafter by Rhino, Judas Priest: Rising in the East is the band's third live DVD, and it offers a sweltering two-hour show with Rob Halford backed by guitarists Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing, bassist Ian Hill, and drummer Scott Travis in front of an adoring crowd of thousands. Here's the track listing:
1. The Hellion
For this live concert DVD, Halford and Co. returned to Japan, the site of their much admired 1979 live album, Unleashed in the East, as a symbolic homecoming of the classic Priest live sound. Though it can't be said that this is a full return to form—after all, Unleashed in the East was released more than 25 years ago—the slightly more grizzled and possibly even wiser Judas Priest still put on an incredible show. This release touches all the cornerstones of their back catalogue while introducing a few new ones from Angel of Retribution.
Starting with their sweeping "The Helliion/ElectricEye" the band launches into a pummeling 23 song set. Musically, they're as tight as ever, just bringing down the house on powerful tracks like "Judas Rising" and "Deal with the Devil." As usual, Tipton and Downing's dual guitar shredding is the core of the group's sound, a two-pronged attack that is just as sharp as it was in Priest's heyday. Though Halford's voice has noticeably aged, especially when he tries to hit the falsetto high notes, it's hard to fault him too much as he's clearly giving it his all here. Though the production of the show is extremely stripped down for an arena rock concert (mostly light effects and a giant laser-shooting eyeball at the back of the stage to kick off the show), the simplistic approach works well. It focuses all attention directly on Halford's measured power stances and his increasingly outlandish leather and fringe outfits.
Filmed in fullframe high definition, Judas Priest: Rising in the East is another outstandingly presented concert DVD that looks and sounds as excellent as you might expect. The image is remarkably clear, with no artifacts or grain to speak of. Priest rocks out in crisp clarity and big, booming, Dolby 5.1 and DTS options that are both incredibly loud and full-sounding, perhaps the next best thing to being there. There are no extras on the disc, unfortunately.
While there are five songs performed here from their new album (the only real fault of the show), all the classic Judas Priest tracks are here and performed superlatively, making this a definitive live document of modern Judas Priest. And why shouldn't it be? After all, they've been doing this for three decades, and the way they look in this concert, they may be around for several more.
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