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Caught an unlive one here (and I'm on to you!) - 56%

marktheviktor, July 12th, 2010

You can keep telling me something is black when it's really white until you're blue in the face; Unleashed in the East is nothing great. The performance on this album is pure vanilla though it does have some good spots in it. But I wanted a great live experience on the record and henceforth, I will be highly critical of it as just that or not that as it's supposed to be: a live recording. Rumor has it Unleashed in the East is a victim of studio changes i.e. overdubs outside the venue. Rumor? Ha. Yeah and rumor has it that Rob Halford would have a room for Doro before Joey DiMaio. Oh yeah and rumor also has it Tim Owens will forgo a vocal slot in another power metal band so he can work on getting his PGA tour card. No, that this album has been worked over in a studio after the fact is no rumor. It is so. Anybody who doesn't doubt the veracity of the fact has to do me a solid and rest their ear from track 3 on album 4 for a bit and step back for the truth. Do it! And do it now! And while the performance on this live album is better by most than better by me, I need nothing subliminal to convince me of the fact that Priest is sublimely awesome! I wish this really was as good as it's cover art.

Note: This is the band's best album cover! When I think of Judas Priest, the front and back photos always pop delightfully to my mind. Back in the late 70's, Judas Priest was heavy metal back when heavy metal wasn't "cool" and the cover is still today just too damn awesome for those disco duck mainstream motherfuckers anyway. Rob Halford sporting that leather and police paraphernalia was my adolescent dream. Only he could make the glisten of his handcuffs outshine the Village People's Glenn Hughes' pair so that we would only notice that merkin on his face and Rob's crotch would get the deserving attention instead AND Rob was such a badass with singing ability that he could kick the Deep Purple singer Glenn Hughes' ass at the same time!

Now that I showered rightful praise on the beautifully typical heavy metal-ness of Unleashed in the East, I must get back to being skeptical about the sound on here before I break into song and just say "fuck it, this album rocks" like so many others have when it just isn't the case all around. I will start by dropping these titles on you: Live After Death. Alive!. Made in Japan. On Stage. Live Evil. Live Undead. Those are a sampling of great live albums. Albums recorded live and more importantly, feel live. Unleashed in the East doesn't do that live part well as those titles did. That this album is not authentically live is not my complaint one bit. As a matter of fact, one of those examples I gave was recorded completely in a studio setting and passed off as live. Another was studio dubbed as this album was. But at least they sounded live. This record doesn't sound it. It sounds unconvincing. I want it to sell me that it's in concert even if it's knowingly otherwise. Ever heard Rob's 2001 solo release Live Insurrection? That, my friends, was a live album! Intense, dynamic with the crowd sounds in full force and in your face responding to the performance. When I hear a concert album, I want concert atmosphere! I don't care how small or how big the audience, it's got to feel in the flesh.

Exciter is one of the greatest songs to ever open a heavy metal album and being as awesome as it was on Stained Class, I expected it to do the same when kicking off this record but it went limp on the live front at 3:38 with that crowd rave. PUH-LEASE! Where did the engineer swipe that byte from? Cheap Trick? Those cheers were about as convincing as the crowd cheers on Tecmo Bowl for the Atari 7800 after Detroit scores on Dallas on the road. What is really confounding is that Priest was the sexiest sounding metal band of their day and that such audial duplicity was needed in the first place. When the band belts these songs out it should have every bit the authenticity of excitement as Madonna would get strutting down rapist row. Were Japanese metal audiences really that flaccid and nonchalant? No. There's no reason to turn down reception noise. Take some time and work it in properly into the optimal channels. Even if it was going to be manufactured crowd sounds, they could at least do it correctly. I wanted a true depiction of everything there. Stand by for disappointment is more like it.

I wasn't too pleased with the soloing on Exciter either at least in comparison to the studio track. K.K's riffing is great but Tipton's soloing sounds synthetic (more blatantly obvious studio tinkering) and a pull off is missed. Running Wild then breaks on way too suddenly than I thought was needed. Tipton and Downing's chaotic twin attack solo on this song was pry the best emulation of a live arena setting. The song that has the most awkward mix and dub is with The Ripper. Rob's vocals sound lively but the echoing effect is overdone. Throughout the whole album, Ian Hill's bass tracks seemed unaltered as I noticed the output drifted quietly about the same channels the guitars were placed through. Victim of Changes is a song from Sad Wings of Destiny and it's a track played on this live recording which is a natural because that song even in its studio incarnation always sounded lively. Rob's ending wail at the tail end is of course screamed right as always but not as long as I've heard it on other concert performances.

Unleashed in the East has gotten much praise. I like the actual performance by the band on it whether it is live or doctored to be live. I know many admire it just for the playing alone. But I don't think the band played uniquely enough on it to give it a pass as a live recording. I wish I could raise this album up to a higher score for it's cover but the musical content is what matters. 70's Priest is my favorite era of the band so it's disappointing that the live treatment heard on here is not a heavy metal great among the classics. We get the Green Manalishi with the Two Prong Crown, sure. But if you're looking for what I was looking for, you get the big green weenie. What a shame.