With song recordings scattered across the Angel of Vengeance 2005 and Nostradamus 2008 tours this is not such much a complete live show rather a greatest live moments of those tours, a collection of live souvenirs if you will. Indeed the songs have not been connected to run as one show and all of these recordings are stellar as is the band performance in delivering them. The band has also recognised there is a fair bit of live Priest in the back catalogue and have chosen to represent more obscure songs on this release which directs it to the hardcore fan.
Things kick off with the awesome “Judas Rising” and the band hits you in the face like a brick wall of sonic metal glory. Underpinned by some fantastic bombast from drummer Scott Travis’s foot work are the classic flurries of KK Downing and Glen Tipton’s awesome monolithic riffs and of course Mr Halford’s Metal God vocals. Surely this track is what heavy metal really is all about. Close behind is “Hellrider” and it is equally metallic titanic. Great start.
“Between the Hammer And The Anvil” lumbers out of the crypt gates before bursting into life and is a spirited rendition of the “Painkiller” classic, complete with intro chants of “Priest, Priest, Priest” from a rabid crowd. The burst of fret work still sends tingles down the spine. Possibly veering into a more commercial vein is “Riding on the Wind” and Rob provides us with his customary screams. Workman like but fun all the same.
Not to be cowed by critics comments made around 2008’s concept Nostradamus release we receive the first of two songs on offer from that CD. I wasn’t a fan of the studio version but “Death” works well in a live setting with Rob sitting upon a throne telling us the tale of man’s fate. Supported in the live arena by synths and ominous chiming church bell, it has more edge here. The vocal just works better when not as contained and when bouncing off an arena’s walls. Glad they included it, will probably make many go back and give the Nostradamus CD a re-play.
“Beyond the Realms of Death” is sublime as always, mind you I don’t think I have ever heard a poor version from the band. Perhaps one of the most influential of true metal bands you know when you are listening to Realms just how many bands and songs they have templated and influenced. Rob sings this again with passion and conviction. A highlight in the band’s songwriting career and certainly one of my early favourites on this release. It proves you can be sensitive in delivery in metal and still hold your audience by the throat. Great stuff.
“Dissident Aggressor” is always welcome and this is a punchy and up beat version, though I miss that signatory siren wail note from Halford at the opening. It is followed by the shrill winds that howl outside announcing “A Touch Of Evil” has arrived. Easily a crowd favourite with the fists raised and the chants of “hey” against the mighty riff this is a great song. Again a great version on offer here, even though it doesn’t stray too far from the studio version with the exception of a few vocal affects added for good measure. Nice guitar solo too.
“Eat Me Alive” sounds like it was lifted from the “Defenders” tour, but its “Prophecy” which was the opening number on the Nostra-Tour that is a late highlight. Again in the live setting this stuff just works better, Rob’s vocals have more grit and edge and although there is synth work and backing tapes at play the whole song is much more stripped so you can hear the guitar riffs. In this way it is far more palatable to the metal fans ear and sounds less removed from what you expect from this band.
“Painkiller” has become the Priest song that modern day fans crave to hear at Priest shows and this version features a vocal that sounds like Halford is spitting razor blades. Over all it is THE ultimate speed metal song, what with pounding bass and drums, blazing guitar tradeoffs, banshee vocals its the best way to finish this CD.
Overall no weak moments, those hoping for a full live show may be disappointed, but I for one think this is a great bookend to two great tours and recommend it fully to any lover of legendary British metal glory. PRIEST, PRIEST, PRIEST, PRIEST!!!!