Judas Priest: A Touch of Evil Live

If you needed further proof that Judas Priest is still a great live band, here it is.

Judas Priest

A Touch of Evil Live

Label: Epic
US Release Date: 2009-07-14
UK Release Date: 2009-07-13
Artist Website

There's nothing quite like the devotion of metal fans. When they latch on to a band, it's for life, and it couldn't be more evident these days as album sales continue their sharp decline. Still stubbornly an album-oriented genre, metal has been charting very strongly over the past year, largely due to the fact that when a new album comes out, those fans go out en masse during that first week and buy, buy, buy, to the point now where even the most marginally popular band can sell 10,000 copies in the first week and be assured of a strong chart position. Such loyalty is not lost on these bands, either, especially the veteran acts who have been around for decades, as they continually reward their legions of fans with live albums and DVDs from their most recent tours. Judas Priest is one such band, who ever since reuniting with singer extraordinaire Rob Halford in 2003, has treated audiences to two spirited studio albums, a retrospective box set, a pair of live DVDs, and now a new live album, the British band's fifth such document overall.

Unlike such tepid affairs as 1988's Priest…Live!, '98 Live Meltdown, and 2003's Demolition Live, A Touch of Evil Live avoids the sprawling double live route, sparing us redundant renditions of live staples like "Breaking the Law", "Electric Eye", and "Living After Midnight" and focusing specifically on the deeper tracks in Judas Priest's massive back catalog. It's an interesting decision, one that might stick in the craw of those fusspots who would rather hear a complete show uninterrupted, but for all its various locales and fade-outs after tracks, this album turns out to be quite the revelation. In a way, one can look at the new record as a sequel of sorts to the similarly-sequenced fan fave Unleashed in the East from 30 years ago, an immensely rewarding snapshot of a band that continues to defy age, sounding as gargantuan and inspired as ever.

Comprised of 11 tracks, A Touch of Evil Live is an eclectic selection of songs that span the band's entire career, with four songs coming from their last two albums. Recorded during the band's triumphant tour in support of 2005's Angel of Retribution, "Judas Rising" and "Hellrider" are faithful, energetic renditions that mine the classic Priest sound of 1982-1984, while the two cuts from last year's Nostradamus double album are much more revelatory, "Prophecy" deliciously theatrical and "Death" transformed into a powerful doom metal dirge, Halford a commanding vocal presence on both tracks.

The real treat, though, is the older material, on which the entire band sounds rejuvenated. Slayer might have famously covered 1977's "Dissident Aggressor" on their 1988 classic South of Heaven, but Priest absolutely dwarfs their American disciples here with their pummeling rendition of the Sin After Sin track, the rhythm section of drummer Scott Travis and bassist Ian Hill anchoring the track with a formidable bottom end. Originally appearing on 1978's influential Stained Class and on Unleashed in the East, the new version of the epic "Beyond the Realm of Death" is reinvented, Halford smartly avoiding trying to replicate the multi-octave screeches of the original, playing to his current strengths, his more mid-range delivery lending the song a more somber, less bombastic air. The more straightforward "Riding on the Wind", from '82's Screaming For Vengeance, is great fun, Halford's high-pitched snarl belying his age, Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing trading leads as slickly as they've ever done. The lascivious "Eat Me Alive", from 1984's Defenders of the Faith, is dusted off and given a good spit and polish here, as is Painkiller's "Between the Hammer and the Anvil".

Interestingly, A Touch of Evil Live is limited to just an hour-long running time, and while it makes for a good, concise listen that's never for a moment dull, fans will be wondering why such recently performed rarities as "Devil's Child", "Hell Patrol", and "Rock Hard, Ride Free" were not included, but when we hear the band roar through the classic "Painkiller", Halford turning in one of his most ferocious, maniacal vocal performances on record, it's hard to complain. Judas Priest continues to prove that metal is not just a young person's game anymore, and with this album they've done so with astounding authority.


In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.