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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Judas Priest

A Touch of Evil – Live

Review by Gary Hill

I make no bones about it; I’m a big Judas Priest fan. And the band are really at a new peak these days. They just plain kill, both on album and live. So, I was anxious to hear this release. It has lived up to my expectations. Composed of separate recordings (rather than any one concert) this is (with only one exception that I can think of) all live recordings of songs they’ve never released in live performance on CD before. There are some tracks here that are well worth buying the disc for – even if it was just that one song. All in all, these are scorching performances and I’d recommend this to anyone who has ever enjoyed the music of Judas Priest. The one thing I’d like to complain about, though, is that they don’t tell you what songs came from what performance. I can tell you that, having been at a few shows during these tours, it would be cool to know if any shows I was in attendance at are included here. Still, that’s a minor complaint and this is an exceptional live release.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Judas Rising
The first time I heard this song, I thought that it was the perfect opening number for a concert. Well, they do just that here. It rocks out like crazy, too. This cut has such a classic Priest sound, and this is a smoking hot live rendition of it. You really can't argue with this on any level.
Hellrider
A killer metal grind, I don’t remember the original being quite this heavy either. Mind you, it was heavy, but this thing just plain pounds. It’s another live killer on a disc that’s full of them.
Between The Hammer & The Anvil
I really don’t remember the studio version of this as quite as fiery. Again, I’d have to say that the band go out of their way to up the ante here and this is a serious screamer. The guitar solo section is purely incredible.
Riding On The Wind
I think this is actually pretty close to the presentation of the original rendition. It’s great to have a live rendition of this and the audience adds to it at times. The band put in a killer performance on this.
Death
Coming from their latest Nostradamus release, the cover lists this as just “Death,” but the title is actually “Messenger of Death,” as Rob Halford announces it. It starts subdued, mysterious and dramatic, but then pounds out of the gate as a fiery, plodding cut. It works through a number of changes and alterations. The studio album really comes close to being progressive rock. This track as presented here is definitely heavy metal, but still has a lot of prog in the midst.
Beyond The Realms Of Death
I believe this is the only track here with a previous live version out there. The thing is, one the Angel of Retribution tour they were doing this as an acoustic number – or perhaps it was the tour before. It would have been interesting to have this in that format – but alas we’re given the more traditional rendition. Don’t get me wrong, this has always been one of my favorite Priest songs – it’s just that it’s the only redundancy here. An anthemic ballad, this is a great rendition, but we’ve had it in live performance before. 
Dissident Aggressor
For my money, this is the real highlight of the set. A screaming hot metal number I’ve always loved this track and the live version is even more potent than the studio take. I’d chalk this up as a reason (by itself) for buying this CD.
A Touch Of Evil
I’m not overly crazy about this song, but this version is strong. It’s one of the weaker points on the set. The fact that this is still quite good proves just how potent this album really is. And all that said, Halford’s performance on this is commendable. 
Eat Me Alive
After Rob Halford admitted that he had tried to “out himself” with some of Judas Priest’s lyrics, I can’t listen to this one the same way again. Frankly, I thought it was a bit generic and silly before then. I’ve never been crazy about this one, so it’s no wonder I consider it to be the weak link here. This is OK, but just doesn’t do much for me.
Prophecy
Another track from Nostradamus, having a live version of this is another reason to buy the disc. I love the studio version of this track, but I have to say this is another point on the album where they exceed the original with their live take. Even if you didn’t like Nostradamus you’ll like this – assuming you are a Priest fan.
Painkiller
As fast and mean as the original of this was, they blow that away. I would have to chalk this up as another incentive to buy the set. It’s a great way to end things on a high note. Halford is simply incredible, but the whole band just plain screams on this.
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