JUDAS PRIEST
"Rising In the East"

(Rhino)

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RATING: 6.5/10

No intro, no extra features, no nothin' — just the opening strains of "The Hellion", and there you are, live at Budokan, for this concert film from JUDAS PRIEST's 2005 Japanese tour. Why Japan? Listen to the crowd singing along to the goddamn guitar solo in "Electric Eye", and you won't need to ask again.

While "Angel of Retribution" was a strong comeback album for these long-in-the-tooth metal gods, it can't denied that they're starting to show their age a bit on stage. Rob Halford is singing some of the classics in a lower register, robbing them of their original power, and guitarist K.K. Downing looks winded from the first song. The mix does the band no favors, either, giving us too much splayed-out guitar and burying the vocals.

That said, these guys still put on a helluva show — and, as the world made abundantly clear during the Ripper Owens era, it'll indulge a little creakiness in the classic lineup a lot more than it'll put up with perfection from some new kid in short pants. The 23-song set list will (mostly) please everyone but the un-please-able, with gems old and new, and the predictable ending salvo of mainstream hits "Living After Midnight" and "You've Got Another Thing Coming".

Camera-wise, we get enough good shots to make the occasional goofy split-screen effect tolerable. The picture quality is never stellar – the washed-out lighting adds to the impression that this is a pretty cheap throwaway release, overall. But as a relatively inexpensive, no-frills document of a pretty triumphant show, "Rising In the East" fills the bill adequately. It's one for the diehards, pretty much, but you knew that going in.

P.S. I'm lopping off half a point because "Hot Rockin'" and "I'm a Rocker" are included, but "Bloodstone", "Solar Winds" and "Dissident Aggressor" aren't. For Christ's sake, why don't you just throw "Johnny B. Goode" and "Parental Guidance" in there, too? Seriously, what the hell?

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