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Judas Priest - "\'98 Live Meltdown"
SPV 1998

This is a live album that we all were dying for. After 12 years of long waiting since "Priest...Live!" (1987) has been released here comes finally his 90ies successor. What clearly separates this double live album from both Halford era officially released live albums is fact these recordings weren't extra polished in studio and live atmosphere created by band remains unharmed. The other important difference is that this time new live album has enough material and this fact doesn't allow me to call it "to short", which was the case in both aforementioned live albums.

Judas Priest are announcing very straight that they are back, with unquenchable lust for metal massacre that they deliver to the masses via their unique established heavy metal rock standards. Therefore album opens with classic track Hellion/Electric Eye which is followed by a bunch of "British Steel" (1980) classics including Rapid Fire, Grinder and Metal Gods where Tim "Ripper" Owens proves why he was chosen to take Halford's position in band. In pre-chorus of Electric Eye, he sounds like Rob Halford. But Priest with Tim are new story. This guy brought to live atmosphere some special charge of vocal brutality of his own which was never present during Halford's era. Technically he is far better than Halford and he can provide some huge high screams that are lasting for about few seconds. Check this out in Victim Of Changes and very expressive version of Diamond And Rust, which is driven in balladic tempo beat, where also Joan Baez would easily follow the guys on stage with her acoustic guitar and angelic voice. Tim does some more devastating high screams of shivering powers in Metal Gods, A Touch Of Evil, The Sentinel and of course Painkiller. However, Ripper does not follow Halford's footsteps by all means. His position in band suits him very well. Obviously his band mates gave him enough freedom to freely chose and explore the entire legacy of Judas Priest with his own vocal abilities he masters so well. Ripper likes to mix "conventional" lower sequences with high powerful screaming jump offs (like in case of his predecessor), which helps to create along with aggressive sharp instrumental face of the band real huge atmosphere. Here we got effect of "amplification". Ripper with all his excitement and enthusiasm truly screams like a banshee, and contrasts provided by fantastic Scott's drumming and always fresh sounding untamed wild guitar double twin drive between K.K. and Glenn are all connected in building this bombastic new fashioned alive sound.

Band delivered some material that we all missed a lot. This concerns especially for stuff taken from "Painkiller" (1990): the title song, Night Crawler, Metal Meltdown and A Touch Of Evil that all belong to the highlights of this double live album.

"'98 Live Meltdown" contains also five songs from "Jugulator" (1997), which band promoted on their '97/'98 world tour. Overall studio climax that is captured in these songs offers apocalyptical visions and songs are truly faded to black. But here, live on stage, songs Burn In Hell, Blood Stained, Bullet Train, Death Row and Abductors kicks in pure sharp metal vein, a magic that only Priest can create alive. All aforementioned tracks are highlights driven in brutal zone and are making fantastic stylistic and moody contrast to the rest of material.

Objectively speaking "'98 Live Meltdown" is better than any live Priest album so far. Well, for all who can't except Halford's absence it won't be never good enough, but who cares, that's their problem. Reborn beast is hungry for blood and spits out the fire angrier than ever! Bite and consume the real metal bullet!

Author:   Aleš

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