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Sunday, May 03, 2009

CD Review: Halford - Live Resurrection Remastered

Halford - Live Resurrection Remastered
2009 Metal God Entertainment
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



There was a point in the late nineties to early 2000s where Korn was the heaviest music people at-large paid attention to in the United States. I was fogging around in a post-alternative love affair and rap and hip hop were already showing signs of its corporate-cashed sway, thus I began to care less about the latter two genres. I took this opportunity of my music appreciation history to brush up on classic rock, jazz, classical, the sixties, seventies pop and soul, world music and electronica as the American scene floundered in the rut grunge kicked it into and did nothing to raise it out of.

I distinctly recall a late Friday evening in our old townhouse which saw its share of both joy and suffering and I let the tube dwell on VH-1 for whatever reason, perhaps half-watching a Behind the Music special or something. Could've been Ratt for all I remember, but what stuck out that evening was a short-lived attempt at a metal show on VH-1 hosted by Scott Ian and I recall turning my head sharply in its direction as videos from Megadeth and Anthrax spun by but I also caught Rob Halford's solo band and their video for "Cyber World." Now of course I'd followed Fight for the first two albums while I dove headfirst into that long period of varied exploration, but this time we got to see a then-post-Priest Rob Halford belting out trad power metal as if something of the old days was itching in his metal loins and gaddamn was I impressed...

You might say the Halford band reignited my passion for heavy metal even as I was getting turned on to what is now dismissed as the "nu-metal phase" consisting of groups I still like today such Static-X, Primer 55, Powerman 5000, Mudvayne and of course, Korn. "Cyber World" had that old-time kick about it, the steel-shanked boot right up the ass delivered with the working-class fragrance of sweat and leather and thank God it came from heavy metal's greatest singer. Anyone else but Rob Halford or Bruce Dickinson (who re-emerged to prominence with Iron Maiden shortly thereafter) and I'm not convinced I would've stuck with that VH-1 show, even though Scott Ian made a homey kinda host you felt comfortable with.

At this point in time, the Halford band has to be considered Rob's catalyst to his reunion with Judas Priest. His appropriately-titled Resurrection album (which has also lately been given the remaster treatment) may not have lit the American sales charts on fire, but Rob Halford's worldwide fame is so regal he was able to headline massive festivals overseas on the album's merits and it just happened to scorch, for good measure.

Names such as Patrick Lachman, "Metal" Mike Chlasciak, Ray Riendeau and Bobby Jarzombek weren't exactly considered household names of metal back then, but in the company of The Metal God Rob Halford, they were an pack of envious lions backing up a sovereign voice, well capable of delivering the Priest and Fight goods along with their own skullcrushing tunes, which were lent writing and production assistance by guitar ace Roy Z.

Live Insurrection, originally released in 2001, is a slight enigma in the fact the Halford band had no clue it would be on short-lived terms considering its leader found it within himself to return home not long after they'd toured the world together. This double live album collects recordings of that intercontinental tour, which explains why some segments have more thunderous crowd din than others, yet there's absolutely nothing lax or wanting in the execution by this band.

Think of 1987's so-so Priest...Live! which was better than it should've been, considering it was captured during the release (and a short-lived reign of popularity, actually) Judas Priest's controversial Turbo album. Got that essence of glossed-over late eighties arena rawk in your head? Now slide over to Live Insurrection and feel the difference.

Sure, you'd rather have the comfort of knowing it's KK and Glenn peeling the licks of "Jawbreaker," "Hellion/Electric Eye," "Stained Class," "Tyrant," "Metal Gods," "Beyond the Realms of Death" and of course, "Breaking the Law." Nonetheless, the Halford band poignantly aces them all as if the mere presence of Rob Halford ushered them the mojo to accurately recreate these Priest classics.

A much heavier band than the Fight crew, Chlasciak and company shred the tar out the Fight tunes creeping into Live Insurrection's exhaustive 28-song playlist such as "Nailed to the Gun," "Into the Pit" and "Life in Black" while projecting furious boom behind their own material such as "Resurrection," "Made in Hell," "Cyber World," "Savior," "Silent Screams" and "Slow Down."

Live Insurrection is long as hell but if you're a Rob Halford fan, how can you get enough? This album is one of the few in the modern age where a live album lives up to the event it depicts, so much you can feel (especially through the audile enhancements of this remastered version) the chants of "Halford! Halford! Halford!" as you can distinctly pretend you're right in the maw of a Rio audience bellowing their oratorial responses to Rob's cues; the effect is like being caught in the midst of a bloodthirsty army about to release their hounds.

You can enjoy the moments of Bruce Dickinson joining his renowned NWOBHM counterpart for the Halford band's "The One You Love to Hate" as you can savor Rudy Schenker's appearance with Rob and his posse on a stout cover of the Scorpions' "Blackout." Live Insurrection also includes a handful of bonus studio tracks, the most ripping of them being "Screaming in the Dark," by far one of the finest the Halford band recorded.

Looking at this album in the context of its original release and what has occurred since, you have to feel a little heavy-hearted for this exceptional band because they undeniably brought their A-game to Rob Halford's cause and they managed to set foot on some world-class stages by his association. For the Metal God's purposes, Live Insurrection has to stand out amongst his vast catalog of recordings as a celebration of more than thirty years in the game. Moreover, it's the sound of a Rob Halford with everything to regain, which he ultimately did.

Rating: ****

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