Priest Feast in Dublin, Ireland

By A Headbanger, Do You Bang Head?
Thursday, February 12, 2009 @ 8:02 AM

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Reviewed By Dessie Fish

Any lifelong heavy metal fan worth his salt will tell you of the common disillusionment felt by so many metal heads for what seemed like a hundred years starting from around 1995.A new mindless form of music known as Nu-metal was being promoted as the newest form of heavy metal and those carpetbaggers backing it attempted to sell it to metal fans as the newest form of heavy metal.They were told it would take up from thrash metal as those bands had taken up from the original Big Four of Black Sabbath,Iron Maiden,Judas Priest and Motorhead. Where a progression had previously taken place with the original torch being grappled from the inventors of heavy metal to the new Big Four of thrash metal (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax) the idea of Nu metal being the newest form of metal was,to those who knew better,an unfunny joke.This quick-buck bastardized incarnation of a way of life was given a foothold on our screens and airwaves and its popularity at the time was both inexplicable and bewildering. Who could forget such pitiful images of the likes of Fred Durst screaming George Michael's, "Faith" into a microphone with cookie monster vocals? Clearly, heavy metal had been hijacked by morons. However,given Nu metal's apparent popularity,it was extremely difficult for heavy metal veterans to imagine that the glory days of heavy metal or thrash metal would ever return. Remember, only Slayer of the new Big Four were still producing truly devastatingly heavy records. Megadeth and Metallica had both changed their original sounds hugely. Other bands like England's Paradise Lost who promised so much with brilliant albums such as, Icon and Draconian Times had also changed to the extent of being unrecognizable to their fan base. Other bands like Machine Head were also guilty (remember Rob Flynn's red tracksuit on, "The Burning Red" anyone?). Old reliables like Pantera weren't functioning. How the glory days of heavy metal in its purest form were sorely missed.

Remarkably, after the recent many years in the wilderness,heavy/thrash metal in its original form has re-emerged. Through new metal bands with old school/classic sounding material like Mastodon, Trivium and Evile crediting their sound to heavy metal of the 1980's, those powerful in the record industry have finally gotten into their big dumb heads that there still are legions of heavy metal fans out there who want records of classic sounding material from both these new bands and the original giants. The last couple of years has seen a resurgence of old school material and once again live shows of an evenings worth of undiluted material is being served up exactly as sought by those in the audience. Tonights Priest Feast In Dublin's brand new 02 Arena (formerly The Point) was case and point.

Considering the three bands on the bill,there were few complaints beforehand about the ticket prices for tonights event. 45 euro (about $55) is what would be normally paid to see one of these bands in Dublin so to get to see three heavy weight acts for the same amount was almost a reward for the fans who had to endure Nu metal in all its moronity. Testament were first up and took stage at 7pm local time. There were big problems with stage equipment before hand resulting in 6,000 fans being left outside the venue in the freezing cold for an hour after advertised doors opening time. Why couldn't the fans wait inside the venue while the problems were ironed out? This delay also lead to Testament having to shorten their set by two to three songs. The minute after the crowd were let into the venue, Chuck Billy and band appeared on stage to a deafening ovation. "We haven't played for you Dublin since 1987,but we never forgot about you" was how Billy addressed their unbelievably long absence from this city. They certainly went along way to make up for it tonight. Forty minutes of brilliance reminding all present of the true greatness of this band. Opening with, "For The Glory Of..." off their stunning, Formation Of Damnation album, this set was a forty minute guide to how utterly powerful and awe inspiring this band and this form of music can be. It's not often this reporter gets goose bumps for the entire duration of a bands set but that's exactly what happened here tonight. Songs such as, "First Strike Is Deadly", "Persecuted Wont Forget", "More Than Meets The Eye", "New Order" and "Formation Of Damnation" left the crowd awestruck. As is often the case with festivals, time called a halt to the Testament juggernaut in Dublin for now. Testament's slot may have only been 40 minutes but what a 40 minutes. Thrash metal brilliance alive and well. A stunning performance.

The metal baton was then passed to one of the forefathers of the thrash metal scene, Dave Mustaine and his band Megadeth. Having originally released two monumental thrash metal albums in Peace Sells (1984) and Rust In Peace (1990), Mustaine then chose to release four rock albums between 1992 and 1999. The latter two (Cryptic Writings and Risk) were savaged by critics who were mystified at how far removed the new sound was from the aforementioned thrash masterpieces. Having experienced some fleeting mainstream success with his rock records, Mustaine then delighted his original audience with the decision to revert back to more of his original/classic sounding material. Just prior to this decision, Mustaine was involved in a well publicized meeting with former band colleague, Lars Ulrich (Metallica). This buried once and for all any ideas either had of Mustaine ever rejoining his former band. In hindsight, Mustaine was the only person to both benefit from and come out of the cringe worthy, documentary, "SKOM" with any sort of face intact as viewers were baffled as to why he was invited to participate in a, "therapy" session with someone who seemed completely disinterested with the past. Mustaine may have been unable to see the positive side of that experience at the time but ultimately, it has seemed to free him from his Metallica demons that have followed him around for 20 years. Mustaine it would seem is now enjoying a new lease of life in the recently gained knowledge that he need not waste any more time wondering if he will be involved again with Metallica in the future.Two worthwhile old school albums (United Abominations being a brilliant return to form) later and delivering blistering live shows, Mustaine has become completely refocused. Tonight was Mustaine's first visit back to Dublins O2 Arena since the Countdown To Extinction European Tour of 1992 (The SFX Center and The Ambassador having been played since). On that famous night in Dublin, Megadeth and Pantera both put in performances that have lived long in the memory. Taking stage at 8pm, Megadeth delivered an hours set of mostly classic material. Of the eleven songs performed, two were from United Abominations: "Sleepwalker" and "Washington Is Next". The other nine were old reliables such as, "Holy Wars", "Peace Sells", "Darkest Hour" and "Tornado Of Souls" which Mustaine jokingly introduced as a song about the weather! A special treat was,"Skin O' My Teeth" which hasn't been played in Dublin live in quite some time. A sixty minute set would never do this band justice but the no nonsense, mach speed delivery of classic material old and new proving that at their fastest, uncompromising best, this band is still a massive force to be reckoned with. Has Mustaine decided that his future lies in the release of quality old school material such as found on his last two records and blistering live shows? On the evidence of the show he delivered on his last visit to Dublin in June 2006 and tonight,it would certainly appear so.

And so to the headliners, Judas Priest. What can be said only that an incredible live show was delivered here tonight that would rival any of the great live heavy metal performances seen in Dublin in the last twenty years. An amazing stage set, the incomparable Rob Halford, stunning guitar work from KK Downing and Glenn Tipton.This was an example of how it should be done.Anyone who has not seen this show must to do so. "Breaking The Law", "Another Thing Coming", "Sinner", "Hell Bent For Leather", "Metal Gods", "Devils Child", "Angel" were just some of the tunes performed impeccably in a set of an hour and forty minutes. It's hard to comprehend that a band whose first release was in 1974 can still put in such a jaw dropping performance such as the one seen here tonight. No adjectives could do the heavy metal master class that was delivered here justice. When this show comes to your city, buy a ticket and go and see it. It's as simple as that.In a word, awesome.

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