“Epitaph” [DVD] by Judas Priest

Artist: Judas Priest
Title: “Epitaph”
Label: 5/28/2013
Release Date: 5/28/2013
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4.25/5

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of watching Judas Priest’s “Epitaph” DVD on the big screen down at the Clearview Chelsea Cinema in NYC and at that event, the one and only Rob Halford popped in for a few minutes with the bands new guitarist Richie Faulkner and of course Eddie Trunk of “That Metal Show”. I had to admit that it was great to watch the then at the time upcoming release on such a screen as it made me feel as though I was front row center for the “Epitaph” tour and this was important to me as I had sadly missed their show when they came rumbling through my town. It happens, but I digress. Most Metal fans already know that “Epitaph” was to be the bands final run of worldwide touring and likely recording but since the tour things have changed and the band seems eager to press on with new Heavy Metal music and shows for their fans. Believe me I am okay with this. Now let’s help out those who also missed the show and let’s talk about what can be found on this concert video.

The “Epitaph” show was filmed at London’s Hammersmith Apollo and this famous venue has found a lot of live Metal and Hard Rock concert recordings or videos being done here when it was named the Hammersmith Odeon. Among them were Motorhead, In Flames and Rush to name a few. It’s nice to have the mighty Judas Priest among these fine bands and with a concert film at such a place. Now the show itself was a special one and features at least one song from every one of the bands recordings. Well, one song from every album that the classic and most revered lineup appeared on together in all honesty as there is nothing from when the band had Tim “Ripper” Owens in the lineup. Since I don’t recall the band even playing any of that material after Owens was gone I guess it makes some sense but to me it is still a part of Judas Priest history. That being said the band begins the show with a song from “British Steel” in a rousing get on your feet performance of “Rapid Fire” and follows it with “Metal Gods” from that same release. While they touched upon every album they did not do the show sequentially and instead positioned a choice tune here and another there. A wise move because the set seems to flow seamlessly as a result of the way that it has been fashioned. The audience does get a lot of the expected tunes from the band and that is very simply because there are numerous songs that are just too hard to leave out of a Judas Priest show. We get a few surprises such as “Never Satisfied” from the bands “Rocka Rolla” debut but I thought it would have been fun for them to give us the title track instead since it has a nice groove. “Turbo Lover” was an obvious inclusion and I don’t recall the last time that I saw the band doing this one. I had to smile at the fact that no matter how maligned this particular album was, it did not stop the crowd from singing the chorus at top volume. When I saw the DVD on the big screen my friend mentioned how much he liked that the crowd was not always being shown and instead it was primarily the band. While meaning no offense to my fellow Metalheads I have to agree because outside of the occasional pan we don’t need to see you. Of course my one main issue with the show was that instead of the mighty Halford singing “Breaking The Law” we get the audience of the Apollo doing so. Perhaps this was awesome if you were there but for me it loses just a little something when watching it on the television. The stage setting is dramatic and the backdrop changes regularly as the band moves back and forth throughout their musical career.

Halford appears in top form during the show and regularly engages the audience with banter about how important they are to the very existence of Judas Priest and I enjoyed seeing that. You are never too big to appreciate your audience after all and these guys still thank the fans even after forty years at the craft. The band is tight and new guitarist Richie Faulkner seems to fit right in with Tipton and Hill and one of the things I enjoyed most about watching him was seeing just how excited he was during the show. He is constantly offering up some serious playing and the smile rarely leaves his face. The bottom line is that they all appear to still love what they are doing and at the end of the day this is a very good thing for the Metal fans of the world. Personally I enjoyed all of the selections but felt that maybe they should have braved numbers like “Heads Are Gonna Roll” or “Love Bites” again or maybe even “Out In The Cold” from “Turbo” since that worked so well live. They did get my “Green Manalishi” and “The Sentinel” so I was satisfied. I honestly have far too many Judas Priest songs that I consider “favorites” and I am sure that you are with me on that one. The audience also receives a quick drum solo from Scott Travis and I’ve never seen him do one of those before so that was cool. The whole thing wraps up with a super loud audience and band combination punch on “Living After Midnight”. Clearly this show found you leaving the arena or theater or whatever you saw it in as a fan on a Metal charged energy high. That tends to happen after experiencing the craft as done by its masters. For those fans who needed a counter, it should be noted that “British Steel” gets the most tracks at four while “Screaming For Vengeance” gets three. The show caps off at twenty three numbers and that is totally worth the money laid out.

Packaged in a jewel case as opposed to one of the conventional DVD holders we usually get, the release also features a twelve page booklet that is loaded with photos and some production liners notes. There are NO bonus features to enjoy and that surprised me just a little bit but not as much as the fact that there was not a companion audio version of this film to enjoy. There are going to be fans who will want to blast this concert at maximum volume as they are heading out to the highway (yeah I went there) and we sure don’t want them disappointed. Perhaps this is a future plan for the show that we have enjoyed on the film. While I have not yet examined the Blu-ray edition of this concert I will have to anticipate that it is exactly the same but in a higher definition so depending on how you enjoy your videos these days, let that be your purchase guide. Otherwise this was a damned fun film to watch and one that only made me just a tad angry at having missed it in person. Here’s too many more years of Judas Priest music.

Track Listing:
1. Battle Hymn
2. Rapid Fire
3. Metal Gods
4. Heading Out To The Highway
5. Judas Rising
6. Starbreaker
7. Victim Of Changes
8. Never Satisfied
9. Diamonds And Rust
10. Prophecy
11. Night Crawler
12. Turbo Lover
13. Beyond The Realms Of Death
14. The Sentinel
15. Blood Red Skies
16. The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)
17. Breaking The Law
18. Painkiller
19. The Hellion
20. Electric Eye
21. Hell Bent For Leather
22. You’ve Got Another Thing Coming
23. Living After Midnight

Official Website: http://www.judaspriest.com

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