Judas Priest – Epitaph DVD (Sony/Legacy)Sunday, 9th June 2013
The first official release of any kind with Richie Faulkner in place of KK Downing, Epitaph in its present context, is a misleading title. You see, Priest was supposed to call it a day after this tour, but reneged, which is one of the reasons why Downing decided to leave the band. (Big ‘ole minus points for Priest if they drag this thing out ala Kiss.) As it stands, Epitaph serves not only to introduce Faulkner, but to give Priest the chance to dust out some songs from each of their studio albums…minus the Ripper years, even though it would be interesting to see Halford give ’em a go.
Shot and recorded on the last date of the band’s tour in May of 2012 in London, the traditional setlist choices like “Rapid Fire,” “Metal Gods,” “Heading Out to the Highway,” and the big hits (if you don’t know ’em, then stop reading) are complemented by rarely-played cuts like “Never Satisfied” and “Blood Red Skies.” Priest has never leveraged their back catalog the way Maiden does, so getting these tracks out of them should be considered a novelty, and a good one at that, especially “Never Satisfied.” Heck, even the more recent “Prophecy” from 2008’s Nostradamus fits comfortably in the 22-song running order.
As for Faulkner, he definitely plays in a much looser fashion than the taut Downing. Prone to guitar squeals, artificial harmonics, and faint improvisation, Faulkner has proven his mettle (excuse the pun) in the two years since he joined the band. High-five to Glenn Tipton for still wearing red leather pants, while Halford is fantastic on certain numbers (“Diamonds and Rust” and “Night Crawler”), while noticeably strained on “Painkiller,” which in spite of its legendary song status, should be dropped from the set.
A new studio platter is due from Priest later this year, and many will be skeptical given the rather goofy way Nostradamus went down. The Epitaph DVD (no extras in case you were wondering) is another excuse for Priest to add to their voluminous body of work…and for ardent fans to see a band still pumping in the twilight years.