Monday, February 9, 2015

Review - Judas Priest "Defenders of The Faith 30th Anniversary Edition" (Columbia/Legacy)

It's hard to believe that Judas Priest's classic "Defenders of The Faith" is thirty years old. It's amazing, thirty years since the Metallian became a part of the metal landscape. Not only that but a lot of the tracks from that album continue to be favorites of the faithful and fixtures of Priest's live set. With "Screaming for Vengeance" being such an insanely strong album these guys had a huge mountain to climb in regards to the followup for that album and Defenders delivered. To celebrate this thirty year milestone on March 10th Columbia/Legacy will be releasing a three CD expanded version including the original disc completely remastered by Tom Allom.

Although the release isn't out until March 10th Columbia/Legacy kindly allowed Focus on Metal to have a preview of the upcoming release and here's the lowdown. Thankfully Tom didn't do anything in the remaster that bows down at the altar of modern recording. There's no massive increase in Ian's bass and the drums have not been kicked up to Slayer levels. The focus remains exactly where the focus on the original mix was set. Tom was the original producer of Defenders and he clearly knows he got it right the first time. I do hear small tweaks though. Rob's vocals now have a bit more reverb/chorusing on them. I'm not sure the average person would realize it and that's the beauty of what Tom has done here. Of course when you are reviewing a release you tend to really listen to everything so you do pick up the small stuff. There's also a lot more mid presence on the remaster. Priest has always been a metal band that not afraid to embrace the middle of the EQ curve and what Tom has done here in that regard makes it all sound fresh and powerful. As far as the remaster is concerned I'll give it a solid 10 out of 10. Definitely feels like putting on a comfortable guitar and discovering it still has some great riffs in it.

1.   Freewheel Burning
2.   Jawbreaker
3.   Rock Hard Ride Free
4.   The Sentinel
5.   Love Bites
6.   Eat Me Alive
7.   Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
8.   Night Comes Down
9.   Heavy Duty
10. Defenders of the Faith

Discs two and three are a live recording from the Long Beach Arena, May 5th 1984. This date was very far into the tour for Defenders which kicked off in Demnmark on January 20th (following a mini tour of the UK in December). Priest played two nights in Long Beach and this show is from the second night. For metal heads that have come up in the last ten years the most amazing thing tho point out about this live set is that Priest played eight of the ten tracks from the new disc. With the exception of Maiden that's almost unheard of  from a veteran band. In fact the only track they didn't play on the tour at all was Eat Me Alive. These guys could go out and play this set as is today and I'm sure most Priest fans would come away extremely happy. I've long had a bootleg version of this show and i have to say that the quality on this release is far above what I've heard previously. This may become THE Priest live album. I think they could easily just release this on its own andPriest fans would buy it.

CD2 Live at Long Beach Arena, California 5th May 1984 

1.   Love Bites
2.   Jawbreaker
3.   Grinder
4.   Metal Gods
5.   Breaking the Law
6.   Sinner
7.   Desert Plains
8.   Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
9.   The Sentinel 
10. Rock Hard Ride Free

CD3 Live at Long Beach Arena, California 5th May 1984 

1.   Night Comes Down
2.  The Hellion
3.   Electric Eye
4.   Heavy Duty
5.   Defenders of the Faith
6.   Freewheel Burning 
7.   Victim of Changes
8.   The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)
9.   Living After Midnight
10. Hell Bent For Leather
11. You’ve Got Another Thing Coming

So audio wise this thing is a steal for the price they are charging. Having recently spent thirty dollars for a remaster/special edition of an album who's first word is Love and second word is Gun I feel pretty good about saying that this is far and above the real value for your metal dollar. Twenty bucks for three incredible discs of classic Priest audio. I should also mention that I have only been able to listen to the digital version of this so far.I'm quite sure that when my pre-ordered physical copy rolls in I'm going to be an even happier camper.

Since I've only had access to the digital copy I haven't been able to see all the packaging but I will say that the cover treatment looks great as you can see above. I expect the rest of the package will also be damn cool.

So clearly what are you waiting for? Order up your own copy of the deluxe expanded version of Defenders of The Faith and bask in the audio glory that is classic Priest.
Who can forget the immortal words inscribed on the back of the original release, "Rising from darkness where Hell hath no mercy and the screams for vengeance echo on forever. Only those who keep the faith shall escape the wrath of the Metallian... Master of all metal."

This package easily gets two horns up and a total 10 out of 10. Priest remain as always, Master of all metal.

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