Delivering the Goods
A Tribute to Judas Priest Vol. II (Century Media)
by Scott “Hellion” Hefflon
While I’m all for this tribute (and the first one from a few years back), I gotta say I wish it’d gone further. But I still recommend this to anyone into Priest (and what self-respecting metalhead isn’t?) and those looking for some new hotshot to get behind and argue about with other metal geeks around the D&D table. It’s also kinda cool to see some bands are still, ya know, hanging in there after over a decade of my ignoring the shit outta them. Says something about the bands’ tenacity and how much I know about peoples’ low expectations. Pronunciation causes a cheap giggle here and there. Angra‘s “faster than a boullett” opening in the ferocious “Painkiller” being the best example, but cheap laughs’ll be stifled when ya realize how many kinda silly things Rob Halford uttered with such conviction in the originals, yet we all felt our knees buckle with the majesty of it all. Oops. Metal’s goofy, and if we didn’t realize it then, well, it’s kinda obvious now, right? There’s always that fine line between reverence, cuz the shit mattered, and kinda chuckling, cuz it was kinda silly. Ya gotta respect it or yer an idiot, but you have to acknowledge its high cheese content or, um, yer an idiot.
Song picks are, as ya might expect, mostly the classics, and while that might be good for aging metal bands and fans, it won’t inspire kids to dig deep into the JP catalogue, especially if they realize that the cardboard production used here is an accurate re-creation of how thin and flaccid most of Priest’s production is/was, by the standards of the last decade or so. At least I hope that was intentional. And while different fans’ll have a soft-spot for some handful of classics or the bands covering them, no one really does much of anything special with anything, cuz they’re fuckin’ classics and ya can’t really mess with them too much (if ya know what’s good for ya). Then again, aren’t we getting sick of hearing the same damn songs worshiped yet again? I know I am.
My faves are the latter period classics from Defenders of the Faith and Painkiller, two records I know from beginning to end, not a real clunker in the bunch (that I can think of), and I wish more here was from those days. Rage brings the greatly-underrated “Jawbreaker” to light, highlighting its moving build-ups, tight harmonies, and twin scorching solos criss-crossing like bottlerockets in the sky. And Radakka, sounding like Nevermore Jr., add some dark guitar melodies to “Night Crawler,” and while no one in their right mind’d attempt the piercing falsetto at the apex, their stacked harmonies and heave-ho!-style chants divert attention from the loss. And ya gotta love the ominously-spoken Vincent Price-ish “Shout at the Devil” spookiness. Scary, scary… Bands no one is surprised are here: Gamma Ray (featuring Ralf Scheepers in one of the two songs), Blind Guardian, Devin Townsend, Stratovarious, U.D.O., Forbidden, Iron Savior, Virgin Steele, Saxon.
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