December 10, 2008

CD/DVD Review: Halford - Resurrection World Tour: Live at Rock in Rio III

I had my first official introduction to Halford last year when I got my hands on Metal God Essentials Vol. 1. That album was not a pure Halford release as it did have a few Fight and Two cuts. Still, that release showed that even though Rob Halford was not with the legendary Judas Priest, his talent shown bigger and brighter than ever. There is no doubt that he is an absolute metal legend. This two disk set further cements that legendary status (as if there was ever really any doubt).

Now, while Rob has rejoined Judas Priest, he is not allowing his output in the intervening years lay stagnant on the sidelines. He has released the Metal God Essentials CD, the War of Words documentary chronicling the rise of Fight following his departure from Judas Priest in the early 1990's, and then the excellent Into the Pit Fight collection that compiles remastered versions of all three of those releases along with a DVD of an early concert. If nothing else, Rob Halford is making sure you have access to the best versions of his music.

The latest Halford release, again through his own Metal God Entertainment imprint, is two disks of pure metal. What more can you ask for? If you are a Halford fan, you will want to get your hands on this, even if you just like metal, you need to get a hold of this.

The first disk is Halford's Rock in Rio III concert performance. This took place on in January of 2001 in the Brazilian city of Rio over the course of one week, featuring artists such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Mathews Band, Beck, and Guns n' Roses. Iron Maiden headlined one of the nights, a performance that was also recorded and released back in 2002.

This was not long after Rob Halford re-emerged on the metal scene with the first Halford release, Resurrection. They took the stage in front of an absolutely ravenous crowd and proceeded to tear up the stage for an hour.

The set was comprised of tracks from the debut Halford release mixed with a couple of fan-favorite Fight songs, as well as some classic Priest tunes. Regardless of what song they played, it was absolutely electric.

I saw Judas Priest live a few years back and that was an unforgettable experience, a great night of metal. Although, I do have to say that Rob is not all that great of a performer, but it does not really matter as he has that incredible voice, the leather and spikes image, and a face that is filled with intensity as he sings. This stage presence is much the same here. He primarily stands at center stage, microphone gripped tightly as he rocks back and forth singing his heart out. There is no one who can sing quite like he can, and watching him stand there is a magnetic experience.

His band is also first rate, featuring Metal Mike Chlasiak (recently heard on Sebastian Bach's Angel Down album) and Pat Lachman on guitar, Ray Riendieau on bass, and Bobby Jarzombek on drums. They form a solid metallic unit, ripping through each song with pure passion.

The set includes "Made in Hell," "Into the Pit," "Silent Screams," and "Electric Eye" before closing with the metal classic "Breaking the Law."

The DVD includes a Resurrection World Tour documentary, which runs north of 90-minutes. This features many song performances, including footage from a date at Madison Square Garden opening for Iron Maiden. The documentary also has interviews with the band members covering the writing process and how they came to be in the band.

The second disk is a remastered and expanded version of Resurrection album. This album truly brings him back to the metal fold, proving that the longtime front man was, and is, still relevant to the scene and can lead a metallic charge as heavy as the next guy. This comes after his industrial turn with Two, an album I still do not particularly care for.

Resurrection rocks from start to finish. Whether you want melodic playing, purely heavy riffs, face-melting solos, ear pounding drums, or that trademark Halford wail, it is all here. The moment the title track opens the CD, there is no denying that this truly was the resurrection of the Metal God.

The music here is something of a cross between the raw heaviness of Fight and the more traditional metal of Priest. However, despite the obvious similarities, this music is not a retread of anything he had done previously, this was the emergence of the latest iteration of a legendary voice of metal.

One song that stood out to me, one I had never heard before much less even knew existed, is "The One You Love to Hate." Why does this stand out? If you know the album, you already know. If you don't know, allow me to enlighten you. This song is a duet between two of the greatest metal voices of all time, joining Rob Halford is none other than Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson. It may not be the best song on the album, but the fact that both of these men are together is more than enough to grab my attention and show the potential of a two-singer band led by legends.

This CD, which was released last year as an iTunes exclusive, features a pair of songs that previously only been available on the Japanese version of the album. The two songs are "Hell's Last Survivor" and "Sad Wings." If that isn't enough, there are two newly recorded songs in "God Bringer of Death" and "Fetish." Both of these songs are quite good and sound right in step with the classic Halford sound, although their production values make them stand out as not originally being from this album. Still, more Halford is good Halford, right?

Bottomline. Any self-respecting fan will want to get this. The live performance is magnificent, put it together Iron Maiden's release and create your own Rock in Rio! The documentary may be padded out with full performances, but it is nevertheless an interesting look into the band and its formation. Then there is the remastered CD that contains just out and out pure metal. Halford definitely wants his fans to have the best.



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