(2 out of 5)
Sometimes, it truly seems as if the major-label machinery has simply run out of ideas. Take, for instance, this 30th anniversary edition of one of the most essential heavy metal albums ever recorded. BRITISH STEEL was already treated to a beautiful remastering and reissue back in 2001, as part of a much-needed sonic upgrade to the entire Priest catalog. So what to do to honor a remarkable milestone for this historic album? Take that 2001 remaster (complete with its inappropriate bonus tracks: a demo from the execrable 1985 TURBO sessions and a 1984 concert version of “Grinder”) and tack on an even less essential batch of bonus tracks: an entire concert from 2009 – 2009!!! – on both CD and DVD. Granted, the first part of the setlist is the BRITISH STEEL album in its entirety, but it goes without saying that Priest ca. 2009 is a far different animal than Priest ca. 1980. Really, Sony? This is the best you could do? There are circulating audio and video bootlegs from the era that exist in decent enough quality, so why give Priest’s fans a reminder of how this once-great band has turned into a sludgy mockery of itself? The eight-year-old remastering of the original album still shines brightly, and studio classics like “Breaking the Law,” “Living After Midnight,” and “Rapid Fire” are unlikely to lose their brisk, assaultive power any time soon. In fact, there’s not much that could be done to dislodge BRITISH STEEL from its perch as one of heavy metal’s defining statements; but to ask fans to shell out nearly twice the price of the original, classic album for this decidedly inglorious cash-in is patently ridiculous.
First appeared May 11, 2010 at Shockhound.com.