British heavy metal legends JUDAS PRIEST celebrate their 40th anniversary as recording artists this year with the release of the live concert "Epitaph". A unique live career retrospective, "Epitaph" will be made available on Blu-ray and separate DVD on May 28 through Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. This release precedes a new studio album by JUDAS PRIEST which the band are working on now.
JUDAS PRIEST's current lineup comprises lead singer Rob Halford, lead guitarists Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner, bassist Ian Hill, and drummer Scott Travis.
Heavy metal historians will regard "Epitaph" as the most far-reaching live concert recording in the band's career. The set revisits the climactic closing date of the 50-week "Epitaph" world tour, captured live at London's HMV Hammersmith Apollo on May 26, 2012. Adding to the drama is the fact that this was JUDAS PRIEST's final large-scale world tour ever.
"Epitaph"'s 23 tracks represent at least one song from every one of the band's 14 studio albums, from 1974's "Rocka Rolla" ("Never Satisfied") to 2008's "Nostradamus" ("Prophecy"). In the special case of "British Steel", four songs are featured: "Rapid Fire", "Metal Gods", "Breaking The Law" and perennial set closer "Living After Midnight". Others exempted from the one-song-quota are the LPs which appeared before and after "British Steel". The first of these is 1979's "Hell Bent For Leather" (U.K. title: "Killing Machine") which lends the title song as well as "The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)". The other LP is 1982's "Screaming For Vengeance", source of "The Hellion", "Electric Eye" and "You've Got Another Thing Coming".
"They have epitomized the genre with their Harley riding frontman, rapid-fire guitar assaults, and spectacular stage shows," wrote journalist Bryan Reesman in his liner notes for 2004's leather-bound, metal-spiked "Metalogy" box set. "Influential, innovative, and exuberant in expression," he wrote, "they are the true Metal Gods who have been as unwavering in their desire to expand the boundaries of their music as they have been in crossing international borders to deliver it to their disciples.
"Unabashedly committed to their cause, and unrepentant in proclaiming themselves a true heavy metal band even when others have shied away from the term, Judas Priest have forever been defenders of the faith."
"Epitaph" track listing
01. Battle Hymn (L)
02. Rapid Fire (F)
03. Metal Gods (F)
04. Heading Out To The Highway (G)
05. Judas Rising (M)
06. Starbreaker (C)
07. Victim Of Changes (B)
08. Never Satisfied (A)
09. Diamonds And Rust (C)
10. Prophecy (N)
11. Night Crawler (L)
12. Turbo Lover (J)
13. Beyond The Realms Of Death (D)
14. The Sentinel (I)
15. Blood Red Skies (K)
16. The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown) (E)
17. Breaking The Law (F)
18. Painkiller (L)
19. The Hellion (H)
20. Electric Eye (H)
21. Hell Bent For Leather (E)
22. You've Got Another Thing Coming (H)
23. Living After Midnight (F)
A - from "Rocka Rolla (originally issued 1974, on Gull Records)
B - from "Sad Wings Of Destiny (originally issued 1976, on Gull Records)
C - from "Sin After Sin (originally issued 1977, on Columbia Records)
D - from "Stained Class (originally issued 1978, on Columbia)
E - from "Hell Bent For Leather (originally issued 1979, on Columbia; aka Killing Machine in UK)
F - from "British Steel (originally issued 1980, on Columbia)
G - from "Point Of Entry (originally issued 1981, on Columbia)
H - from "Screaming For Vengeance (originally issued 1982, on Columbia)
I - from "Defenders Of the Faith (originally issued 1984, on Columbia)
J - from "Turbo (originally issued 1986, on Columbia)
K - from "Ram It Down (originally issued 1988, on Columbia)
L - from "Painkiller (originally issued 1990, on Columbia)
M - from "Angel Of Retribution (originally issued 2005, on Epic Records)
N - from "Nostradamus (originally issued 2008, on Epic)
PRIEST's forthcoming album will mark the recording and songwriting debut of the band's new guitarist, Richie Faulkner, who replaced co-founder K.K. Downing in 2011.
Asked what fans can fans expect from the group's next CD, JUDAS PRIEST lead singer Rob Halford said in an August 2012 interview, "We've already got a strong cross-section of ideas, some of them complete, some of them in bits and pieces. It's shaping up to be quite intense, in terms of the riffage and the strength of certain tracks. Much like every time you try and talk about music, it's practically impossible to capture it. You can only point it in the direction of where things are shaping up, and it's just glorious. If I try to pinpoint it, there are elements of 'British Steel' and there elements of 'Painkiller' in terms of the vibe. We've got a really solid record coming together slowly in a strong metal way that will make all of our PRIEST fans around the world very happy and content. At least I hope it does."
Regarding a possible release date for the new PRIEST album, Halford said, "I'm not really sure. It'll be ready when it's ready. We're not under the same clock as we used to be. I remember in the '80s we were banging out a record almost every year, and that was on top of putting in a world tour. We have the luxury now, if you want to call it that, of taking our time. And that's just because that's the way it is. We're just as eager to get this done as ever, but we do it at a slower pace. It's that British thing, you know? [laughs] It's that monarchy thing. Let's look forward to that moment for another PRIEST record for everyone to bang their heads to."
In a November 2011 interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Halford stated about PRIEST's plans for the upcoming CD, "Glenn and I started to write in the early part of January [of 2011]. We just went to it from the heart really, there was no specific agenda or idea, as opposed to what we had to do with 'Nostradamus', which was very focused and a real anchor of a project. This one has just been some straight-forward, classic British heavy metal. Some of it feels a bit like 'Painkiller', some of it feels like 'Sad Wings Of Destiny', some like 'British Steel'. We didn't do much research, we didn't bother checking some of our previous releases, we didn't do any homework, we just sat down and played, you know? Glenn came up with riffs and I came up with vocal melodies. There was no outside influence or interference in the writing sessions. We just started the day, plugged in some amps, got the mic up and made the metal that way. It's a very pure record, in that respect."