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Judas Priest | A Touch of Evil Live | review | metal | Lollipop

Judas Priest

A Touch of Evil – Live (Sony)
by Martin Popoff

Here's what the tired and trodden of Judas Priest's army, the beat up by Nostradamus, those who have heard and had to agree that at some shows Rob wasn't singing so well... here's what they didn't need, another live album, and a single disc'er with a stupid title at that. But the tables have been turned – A Touch of Evil – Live is Priest's best live album since Unleashed in the East, a corker molten of metal mix, slammed up and serving 11 hot rockin' tracks gorgeously non-obvious and rendered with a classic metal kill factor that is inspiring (and by the way – I saw the band live just last night and it was the most powerful and assured and triumphant Halford performance I've seen among the last five shows – he's killin' it!). Yeah, turns out this is a strange bit of brilliance, keeping it to a single disc and exactly an hour long. I mean, I'd go so far as to say herein lies the definitive version of "Beyond The Realms of Death" (punchy, trenchant, thespian), the only semi-ballad song on a record of grinders and none of the band's poppy stuff. "Riding on The Wind" has to be singled out as well (wait, can you single two things out?), with Rob finding new carnal, Killing Machine-pirate-proud ways to sing these things in his early '60s, without ducking notes, but craftily playing with registers and phrasings and never tentatively. And you know what else continues? The band's – and the world's – gradually, inexorably building celebration of the Painkiller record, which provides three songs of the 11. The Nostradamus tracks, no, they don't sit right here, unfortunately, standing out by trudging with spooky keyboards, among too many obscure Priest classics like "Dissident Aggressor" and "Eat Me Alive" and the suddenly mosh-inducing and anthemic "Hellrider" from Angel of Retribution (although I'm still not diggin' "Judas Rising" here as opener). I don't want to give too much credit to Tom Allom, because I still can't forgive him for his mechanical and dated sounds of the low (brow) '80s, but man, if he's been part of the performance-picking and the hard-charging electric unleashing of the band here, then some of his sounds and simplifying of Priest is forgiven. Fact is, A Touch Of Evil – Live, against all odds, brims with a cool factor that cannot be denied (you know, in the way calling Black Sabbath Heaven And Hell just sorta tingles), whether you're a newbie or a demanding watcher of the band for decades.


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