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Judas Priest preserves landmark concert for new film, DVD

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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Judas Priest's 2011-12 Epitaph World Tour was purported to be the heavy metal veterans' last -- but was quickly amended to "our last big, worldwide tour, not the end of Priest" according to frontman Rob Halford.

As such, the quintet prepared a special set list for the shows, 23 songs with at least one from each of its 14 studio albums, and saw fit to duly document it with an "Epitaph" DVD that's coming on May 28 as well as theatrical screenings this week.

"We wanted to give something we'd not done before, and we hit on this idea of playing a track from every one of our releases, from (1974's) 'Rocka Rolla' up through to (2008's 'Nostradamus')," explains Halford, 61. The group, making its first tour with new guitarist Richie Faulkner, spent 50 weeks on the road, and by the time it reached the final show on May 26, 2012 at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo in London it was more than ready to capture the show on film.

"It just seemed to be kind of a metal milestone in Priest's career," Halford notes. "The final piece is just sensational to look at and to listen to, so as far as achieving what we set out to achieve, I think we did that."

Halford says the exercise of dipping deep into Priest's vaults also gave him a renewed appreciation for his band, which will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its fourth album next year.

"Before rehearsals started I listened to every single record we made, and I rarely do that," he recalls. "And it felt good. It felt good to listen to all of those writing achievements through the decades. It was an eye-opener, really, just a tremendous feeling of satisfaction over what we've been able to achieve in metal."

Priest plans to achieve more, according to Halford. The group is in the midst of making a new album, with "a lot" of songs under consideration and a hoped-for release in 2014. But Halford -- who guests on the new Five Finger Death Punch single "Lift Me Up" -- says the band won't rush to release something it doesn't feel is ready.

"We're just taking our time, if you call that a luxury," he explains. "There is no real rush. I think what we're doing now is carrying on the legacy that we tried to do over the decades and keep making great metal music. The passion is still there, the drive and the energy. We just want to make sure it's the best it can be before we put it out there."

Judas Priest's "Epitaph" screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, at the Main Art Threatre, 118 N. Main St., Royal Oak. Call 248-542-5198 or visit www.judaspriest.com/Epitaph-Cinema/.

Web Site: www.judaspriest.com

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