Judas Priest
'98 Live Meltdown
[CMC International]

My wife once made the assertion (in reference to former KISS drummer Eric Singer) that "you can't grow up listening to KISS and then BE KISS". Apparently that doesn't hold true for JUDAS PRIEST and their latest double-CD live set, '98 Live Meltdown, is the release that proves it. There's a good reason it's two discs - out of the twenty-four songs, only four are from Jugulator, their first outing with new singer Tom "Ripper" Owens (who lives up to his name, BTW). They jam-packed the rest with tons of tunes from the golden days and before - who can even remember last time they played "Victim of Changes" or "Rapid Fire" or "Grinder" or "The Ripper" or "The Green Manalishi" live with Rob Halford? And the classics are performed with every bit of energy and passion that you would expect from guys half their age, and Ripper sounds very much like a younger Halford while retaining his own identity. Glen and KK's guitars are thick and full, you can hear the bass for a change, and Scott Travis's drums really liven up some of the older stuff and thrash through the newer stuff - "Painkiller" kills I dare say even more than DEATH's recent cover (but that's another review. . .). And the set list is perfect - starting right off with "The Hellion/Electric Eye" (one of the best tunes on the album), leaving the moodier pieces like "Beyond the Realms of Death" and "Diamonds and Rust" for the middle, and slamming through the end with the big anthems "You've Got Another Thing Coming", "Hell Bent for Leather", and "Living after Midnight". Killer. There's nothing else to say, really. It's refreshing to see such a classic band still rocking harder than bands that have been around half as long (we won't name names - METALLICA wouldn't like it. . .). If you call yourself a Priest fan, get this, even if you hate the 'thrash' turn they took with Painkiller; there's too much classic stuff on here to be missed.

1999 lord vic
[originally appeared in Eternal Frost Webzine issue #5]