Part 2 of a miniseries on Rob Halford’s solo career! If you missed Part 1, War of Words, then click here.
FIGHT – Mutations (1994 Epic collector’s edition, 2008 Metal God Entertainment reissue)
Released in late 1994, Mutations (subtitled “collector’s edition“, which really means nothing) was a live/remix CD to follow War of Words. I seem to remember this being marketed as some sort of “extended EP” or some kind of not-album, which again is kind of meaningless. The original release was 45 minutes, a full length album by most measures.
Live Fight! Shame it was only four songs, as they absolutely kick ass. Rob Halford was still in peak voice in 1994, and every high scream is present on opener “Into the Pit”. Fight as a live band were less stiff than on the first album. They were no less precise, and each song is just as ferocious as its album counterpart. On “Nailed to the Gun”, bassist Jay Jay does the low death metal growls while Rob howls like a mad dog.
I was surprised that Rob put “Freewheel Burning” on the album, as he seemed to be trying to distance himself from his past at this time. Its the only Priest song and I don’t think they played many Priest songs on the tour at all (but I know they did cover Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf”). Surprisingly it’s here that Rob’s voice falters, struggling with the demanding song. He redeems himself on the bluesy single “Little Crazy”.
I enjoy hearing live recordings from bands with two distinct lead guitar players trading off. Russ Parrish and Brian Tilse were both very different stylistically, and the contrast is awesome. The pace is aggressive, and these guys keep chugging on. (Note: Russ Parrish is not credited on this album. He had left the band by the time of release, but there is no question that he did play on all these tracks. Why he was not credited is a mystery, but he does appear on the remastered version cover art.)
I believe I am well on record as not being a fan of remixes in general. There are exceptions but so many remixes add techno-crapola that often serves to reduce the songs to repetitive mockeries of themselves. On a track like “War of Words” , they remove Scott Travis’ drums from sections, and replace him electronic beats. At the time I thought, “Why would you want to replace Scott Travis with a drum machine?” Today, it still bugs me. But hey, those who doubted the sincerity of Rob’s industrial work with Trent Reznor in Two should remember these remixes!
I’ll be honest, I struggle getting through the remix side in one sitting. There are some cool moments, such as the chance to hear isolated instruments and solos. “Vicious” is an example of a remix that works for me. It’s weird, it has an opera singer and dance beats added, but it’s pretty heavy and cool. But in general, the Fight songs were simple and repetitive to begin with. Making them simpler and more repetitive didn’t work for me. Sure, I own some Nine Inch Nails albums, but this sound isn’t where my heart lies.
Goodie-goodie-gosh, Mutations was reissued as part of the Into the Pit box set, with two bonus tracks. And these bonus tracks are (you guessed it) remixes. More versions of “Kill It” and “War of Words”. At least the “Culture of Corruption Mix” of “War of Words” is about half as long as the regular “Bloody Tongue Mix”.
Incidentally, why do remixes always have cliche sounding names? “Bloody Tongue Mix”! Raahhrr! Why not…”Toothpaste Mix”. Something original. I think remixers should strive to be more original in the naming of their work. Something nobody’s used yet. “I’m Rob Halford and I Endorsed This Mix Mix”.