Judas Priest – Unleashed In the East (1979)
From the Japanese audience’s eager singalong on the very first song on this album (“Fall to your knees and repent if you please!”), it’s clear that this early incarnation of legendary metal group Judas Priest knew how to work a crowd. The band appears onstage at Kaseinenkin Hall on the cover in full black leather and studs regalia, surrounded by bright lights and billowing smoke. Upon release, the album established Priest as one of the metal’s live heavyweights and also comes in handy as an unofficial “best of” 1970s Judas Priest–containing most of their early hit songs.
2. Running Wild
4. The Ripper
5. The Green Manalishi
6. Diamonds and Rust
7. Victim of Changes
10. Rock Forever
11. Delivering the Goods
12. Hell Bent For Leather
A lot of these songs aren’t played live anymore, which is a shame because Priest’s early work was much more fiery and raw than their 80s output. The live versions crackle with gentle reverb, and the guitar solos especially are given new life in this sweaty, packed early live setting.
“Stand up for Exciter!” vocalist Rob halford orders the Japanese in the namesake opener. The echo from the guitar intro to “Diamonds and Rust” fills the theater. “Sinner,” “Delivering the Goods,” and “The Green Manalishi” carry the night with simple but authoritative riffing.
But the most well-known highlight here is Halford’s stunning vocal prowess on “Victim of Changes,” turning an already excellent song into a true epic. About halfway through the track, the band settles into a subtle breakdown, with only drummer Les Binks hammering away at a midtempo–the calm before the storm, as it were.
Halford leads the finale starting in a low baritone before building all the way up to an inhuman shriek several octaves up: “Victim of Changes!!!” The audience at the time can be pictured looking at one another in astonishment and asking, “Did he really just do that?” I know I did! The inclusion of “Hell Bent For Leather” is a fitting encore, a terrific wail of a song that stands as one of the band’s most classic moments, live or otherwise.
“Unleashed In the East” hearkens back to an earlier time, when Judas Priest was poised for true liftoff into “legend” status…back before they were filling arenas and stadiums, Priest was a hungry, passionate band playing to small crowds of only a few hundred to a thousand. This album takes you back to those early days.
It could be the best live metal album ever released.
5 / 5
Written by Matt P