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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Judas Priest

98 Live Meltdown

Review by Gary Hill

Containing live versions of Priest songs both classic and some more obscure, this disc is a very good representation of a live Priest show. Some of the cuts seem to suffer a little from the absence of Rob Halford. It is not that "Ripper" Owens misses any of the notes, or has a bad voice. It is just that as close as he sounds to Halford, there is a certain style and charm that is missing at times. Still, this is a fine collection of live material from one of heavy metal's premiere bands.

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Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Hellion
The classic Priest opener, this short instrumental always conveys its dramatic tension well to prepare the audience for the onslaught to follow.
Electric Eye
Fast and frantic, this tale of a world of surveillance kicks in strong. Ripper Owens handles the vocals on this cut in fine style.
Metal Gods
A slower moving JP standard, this one is delivered with a lot of crowd chanting. The vocals here, although technically solid, seem to lack a bit of Halford's style.
Grinder
From the British Steel era, this is another Priest classic. The song here is done quite faithfully with Owens doing a very competent job. The crowd does some strong vocal work here, too.
Rapid Fire
Another in the fast and furious vein, this bit of metal mayhem is delivered in fine fashion. At times Owen gets a bit too modern death metallish on this one. However, the mid high-end section is delivered flawlessly. This cut has always been a favorite of this reviewer, mainly due to this mid segment and its vocal line/guitar riff double-edged attack.
Bloodstained
One of the cuts originally recorded by Ripper on Jugulator, this one starts dark and heavy in a classic Priest sound. The cut quickly shifts gear to a faster segment that really moves. This is a great Priest foot stomper.
The Sentinel
"The Sentinel" is a standard Priest cut delivered fairly faithfully.
Touch of Evil
Another in the slow groove sort of mode, this is a strong song and one that Ripper really shines on. The crowd does some singing on this one also. It is really a great rendition.
Born in Hell
Starting slow, dark and mysterious, this is another Jugulator cut and it screams metal fury. It seems to be just a bit Rob Zombieish at times.
The Ripper
This off kilter and scary cut is delivered in fine style, but Halford's flavor is missed in a couple of places.
Bullet Train
Another Jugulator number, this is a fast track with a modern metal texture to it.
Beyond the Realms of Death
A mellow Priest gem, this one takes on some interesting new tones in this rendition. It is nice that this one made the disc, as it is a great song, and a bit obscure.
Death Row
This is another fast and hard new Priest composition.
Disc 2
Metal Meltdown
Fast and furious metal, this one scorches.
Night Crawler
Another hard and fast Priest cut, this one is delivered with integrity.
Abductors
This one is from the slower, heavier Priest mode. A tale of UFO abductions, this is quite a strong cut.
Victim of Changes
Introduced as a song that "needs no introduction", this JP classic comes off very strong here, although Halford is missed just in his stylings.
Diamonds and Rust
The old Joan Baez song, here Priest does a considerable different take on the track from the Unleashed in the East version. It is slowed down and done more folky. It makes for a nice twist and is closer to both the Baez version and the studio version from Sin After Sin.
Breaking the Law
This is a perennial favorite and one of Priest's best known numbers. The version presented here is a straightforward take on a potent metal tune. The guitar solo here has quite a different flavor from the studio rendition.
The Green Manalishi (with the two-pronged crown)
Feeling just a little slicker than earlier versions, the audience adds its style to this one. This JP take on an early Fleetwood Mac number is a trademark of the band.
Pain Killer
Beginning with a drum solo, this frantic cut captures a much newer Priest sound quite well. Again, the audience helps out here.
You've Got Another Thing Coming
Another Priest radio fave, this one rocks out quite well here, but again Halford's presence is missed just a bit. This one includes an audience sing along section.
Hell Bent For Leather
This anthem is delivered in fine fashion here. However, this is another cut where Owens is a very good, but not perfect, fit.
Living After Midnight
Probably THE Priest radio number, this one starts here with just drums and the audience's chanting. Once the guitars enter, the chanting continues for a time. Impressively, the audience's vocals actually carry large chunks of this one. It is a great way to and the album on a high note.
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