Priest (n) 1. Heavy Metal!
Judas Priest is one of the most influential heavy metal bands to ever exist. They spearheaded the NWOBHM movement of the early 80's, influenced the thrash movements of the late 80's and early 90's, were heros to the numerous death bands of the mid 90's, and are still quite influential today as is evident by the number of Judas Priest covers that have been coming out over the last few years. Priest, however, were influenced at first by the heavy metal of bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. By 1975 their twin guitar attack became the standard for heavy metal up and through most of the 80's. In the late 80's they unfortunately became followers of the pop metal trends rather than being the leaders and releasing album like "Turbo" and "Ram It Down." By 1990, however, the band recorded one of their most vicious assaults ever in "Painkiller" a cd that has spawned a new wave of speed and power metal bands, especially in Germany. Bands like Primal Fear and Enola Gay sound much like this era of Priest. After the release of "Painkiller" and a successful stadium tour, Rob Halford began his own thrash band, Fight, and soon left Judas Priest. In 1996, following a solo album by Glenn Tipton, the band rebounded with a new young singer, Tim "Ripper" Owens, (formerly a member of a Priest tribute band and of Winter's Bane). They spent the next year recording Jugulator amongst much self-perpetuated hype concerning Priest's return to their roots. The album debuted at number 82 on the Billboard album charts upon its release in late 1997 and the band was once again off and running touring the world. Halford had by then disbanded Fight, signed with Trent Reznor's Nothing label with a new project, Two, and soon after that formed his most recent band Halford. Priest has since released a live album and another studio album with Ripper Owens on lead vocals.
Judas Priest - Rocka Rolla (Gull/Reptertoire) 1974
Originally released in 1974. (Man, I can't believe that Priest has been around that long.) A bit different from the rest of Priest's catalogue but still a very good early metal album. What this album did was announce the beginning of an era, the Heavy Metal Era! Vocalist "Bob" Halford, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill and soon to be sacked drummer John Hinch released an album that draws comparisons to Black Sabbath's debut or Uriah Heep's "The Magician's Birthday" with a slight nod to Zeppelin. "Cheater" is the only cut that hints at what is to come. "Run Of The Mill" is an epic classic from the Priest catalog. Unforutunately the band never wrote a song as progressive as this one ever again. "Never Satisfied" is probably my favorite song of the album. It's a brilliant rocker with a great chorus. In my opinion, "Rocka Rolla" is Priest's most underrated album and is overshadowed by the band's more popular material. "True metal" fans may be turned off by the classic rock and blues influences, but to those who appreciate good heavy metal and especially the history of the genre, "Rocka Rolla" is an important release.
At one time I owned three CD copies of this album, each with a different cover. I finally sold off two copies, including the hideous RCA cover and held onto the remastered version with the original bottle cap cover (pictured above). This version contains all the original artwork and photos, plus the bonus track, an early recording of "Diamonds and Rust." (The acoustic version on "98 Live Meltdown" is downright fantastic.)
Armored Saint cover "Never Satisfied" on their "Nod to the Old School" CD.
Judas Priest - Sad Wings of Destiny (Gull/Reptertoire) 1976
of Changes" (7:54)
My, my, this disc is so far superior to "Rocka Rolla" that it is almost hard to believe it's the same band. "Island of Domination" is really the only song that hints at the "Rocka Rolla" style. Judas Priest's legendary sound really started with this early masterwork. "Victim of Changes" is a classic that is still played in concert in the 1990's. "The Ripper" and "Tyrant" are both classic Judas Priest songs. "Sad Wings" is mesmerizing and helped to change the world of heavy metal. Six Feet Under, Iced Earth, Agent Steel and King Diamond have all covered "The Ripper." "Victim of Changes" has been recorded by Gamma Ray (on the Priest tribute), Fireball Ministry and Forbidden. I have also heard Destiny's End perform this song live.
Recorded in the Who's Ramport Studios, London and produced by Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, 'Sin After Sin' is a magnificent heavy metal masterwork. "Dissident Aggressor" (covered by Slayer & Forbidden) is absolutely mind blowing. "Sinner" and "Starbreaker" are groundbreaking. "Diamonds & Rust", a Joan Baez cover, is killer. It was years before I actually found out that this song was a cover because Priest made the song sound like their own. Nobody was doing stuff like this in the mid 70's, which is probably why nobody yet payed attention, at least in the States. It would be another record before I would discover Judas Priest, and even that was years after it's release. I can't even imagine seeing Priest in 1977 touring with REO Speedwagon. Imagine being a fan of REO and buying a ticket to see them. Imagine your surprise when a band like Judas Priest came out opening for them. I'm sure it was pretty shocking. The 2001 re-issue contains one studio bonus tracks and a live version of "Jawbreaker" recorded live at Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, CA, May 5, 1984. Not exactly sure why they didn't include a live song from this disc, although 'Jawbreaker" is a cool song and very well done here.
Arch Enemy recorded a cover of "Starbreaker" as a bonus track for a Japanese release, but it also appears on the double disc, limited edition version of their 2002 release, "Wages of Sin."
Judas Priest-Stained Class (Columbia) 1978
Another genuine molten metal masterpiece! This was actually the first Priest album that I ever bought and I was hooked. "Exciter" was the coolest song I had ever heard at the time; an early speed metal classic. "Saints in Hell" is an slow doomy metal tune. (Fates Warning does an excellent version of this song on the Priest tribute.) "Beyond the Realms of Death" is one of my all time favorite songs by any band. (Helstar does an exceptional cover of "Beyond the Realms of Death" on "Multiples of Black" as do Agent Steel on the "Hell Bent for Metal" tribute.) Anyhow, this was the album that had Judas Priest in court for four weeks fighting for their reputation. Judas Priest were being sued by the parents of two teenagers that tried to commit suicide, apparently while listening to 'Stained Class." The song that suposedly caused the kids to try and kill themselves was the Spooky Tooth cover "Better By You, Better Than Me." Of course this happened some ten years after the albums release. In anycase, the band won the case. (I wonder why the parents didn't sue themselves as well, being that they are ultimately responsible for their children. Hmmm...) Anyhow, as I stated earlier, this is a heavy metal classic. The 2001 re-masters contains two bonus tracks; a live version of "Better By You, Better Than Me" and a cool metal ballad called "Fire Burns Below" in it's original demo format. The song has a killer acoustic flamenco guitar solo in the middle of it. Listening to this song I can't understand why the band never officially recorded this song for an album. As with the other remasters, the booklet contains lyrics, photos from this era of the band ad liner notes written by Glen Tipton. Also should make mention that the sound quality on these discs are noticeably better than the original cd releases.
Released as an import titled "Killing Machine" and later released in the US with the added cut "Hell Bent for Leather." This album became Priest's trademark. The leather image would stick from here on. The music on this disc is stinking heavy! When I bought this record it dominated my turntable for a LONG time! "Burning Up" and "Delivering the Goods" were two of the heaviest songs I had ever heard at the time. I still get a charge out of both these songs. This disc, along with "Stained Class" has inspired countless metal bands, some even naming themselves after the song titles (ie. Running Wild, Exciter, Savage). "Green Manalishi" is originally by Fleetwood Mac, but I think Priest did it BEST!
The 2001 remastered version of this disc contains two bonus tracks. "Fight For Your Life" is an early version of "Rock Hard, Ride Free" that showed up on the "Defenders of the Faith" album some years later. The verses are almost identical to the "Rock Hard", however, the chorus is completely different. There are no notes as to where the live version of "Riding On The Wind" was recorded, but it's cool to hear a live version of this song as it is one of the more obscure songs from the band's catalogue. As with all the re-mastered Priest discs, there are some nice liner notes, as well as some photos from this era of the band's existence.
Anthrax's Scott Ian & John Bush along with Whitfield Crane and ex-Armored Saint bassist Joey Vera do a great version of "Burnin' Up" on the Priest tributes. Iron Savior recorded a cover of "Delivering the Goods". Brainstorm recorded a cover of "Before the Dawn" on their "All those Words" EP.
All ya gotta do is read the list of song titles! This is as classic as they come. The songs seemed to be a bit simpler than past releases but every song has a bone-crushing riff to enable you to bang your head. Oh, and is there a better album to rock in the car? I doubt it! Almost every song on this one has been covered by one band or another. U.D.O. recorded a killer version of "Metal Gods," Kreator-"Grinder," and Testament- "Rapid Fire." Hammerfall & Disturbed - "Living After Midnight", Six Feet Under-"Grinder," Ultimatum & Winters Bane- "Steeler", Stryper- "Breaking the Law". "British Steel" is the metal album that helped usher in the 1980's heavy metal craze. It was also the first Priest album to feature ex-Trapeze drummer Dave Holland. To many "British Steel" is the quitensential Priest album and an album that helped define heavy metal for the 1980's. "British Steel" also helped to fuel the New Wave of British Heavy movement.
The 2001 remastered version of this disc contains two bonus tracks. The live version of "Grinder" which was recorded in California. According to the liner notes, the song was recorded for the 1980 British Steel tour of the U.S., however, I think I recognize this song as being from the Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, CA, May 5, 1984 show. The other song Red, White & Blue" is an unreleased studio cut that is an anthem-like song that the band apparently thought would be a cool audience participation song. There are some interesting liner notes about the recording of "British Steel" in the re-mastered series booklet. The album was recorded at Tittenhurst Park, which was the former home of John Lennon, and at the time of the recording belonged to Ringo Starr. There are some other interesting thoughts about some of the things that went on during the recording session in the notes as well.
I guess most people considered this a bland album compared to what came before and after it, but I like it. "Desert Plains," "Solar Angels," "Hot Rockin,'" and of course, "Heading Out to the Highway" are all great songs. "You Say Yes" is sort of dumb, but otherwise this is a great heavy metal album. This one is actually available with two different covers. The one I have pictured is the American version. The 2001 remastered version includes two bonus tracks, a studio track called "Thunder Road" that was apparently written in the early years of Priest, but not recorded until the 1987 "Turbo" sessions. While the song is decent, the production has that "Turbo" processed guitar sound which sounds odd against the rest of the tracks on "Point of Entry." Still, it's Priest, so I had to have it. The live track is a nice bonus as well.
I own this on CD, as well as on vinyl with two different covers (Columbia 37052/CBS 84834).
This album defines metal for me. This was the second Priest album I ever bought and I thought it was the stinkin' heaviest thing I had ever heard. "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," despite being overplayed at the time, is an awesome song. There is not a bad song on this one. I still start banging the ol' head when this album comes on. I bought TONS of bootlegs from this tour when I was collecting vinyl. Wish I still had some of them. Priest toured the US with Iron Maiden on for this one. Now that was a tour! Wish I could have seen it but alas I was still under the authority of my parents at that time and I was not allowed to go.
Saxon and Holy Mother both recorded a
cover of "You've Got Another Thing Comin,'" Helloween covered "The Hellion/Electric Eye," and Stratovarious does a cool version of "Bloodstone" that appears on their "Intermission"
CD, as well as on the Century Media/Rock Hard Judas Priest tribute. Iced Earth recorded "Screaming
for Vengeance" on their "Tribute to the Gods" CD. Machine Head covered "The Sentinel" on their "Unto the Locust" CD.
The 2001 remastered version contains two bonus tracks. "Prisoner of Your Eyes" is a lengthy power ballad recorded in August of 1985 and actually sits quite well with the rest of the songs on this disc. The live version of "Devil's Child" was recorded during the 1982 "World Vengeance" tour.
I was there rocking with the Priest on the "Defenders" tour. I followed them to Philadelphia (Spectrum), New Jersey (Meadowlands) and New York (Garden). I even bought one of those cool concert baseball t-shirts with the quarter length sleeve. Anyhow, I was a HUGE Priest fan by this time. "Freewheel Burning" is one of the fastest and best songs Priest had ever done, and contains one of the coolest guitar solos ever. If only Dave Holland had kicked in the double bass for this song. "Defenders of the Faith" is probably one of my favorites from this era of the band and was one of the band's biggest sellers, despite the fact that "Defenders" didn't contain any 'hit' singles. Despite this fact, Defenders contains such classics as "Jawbreaker", "Love Bites", "Rock Hard Ride Free" and "Night comes Down".
The 2001 remastered version contains two bonus tracks, a live version of "Heavy Duty/Defenders of the Faith" and the unreleased demo track "Turn On Your Light." This demo track is mostly just Glen with a guitar and Rob on vocals, that builds from an emotional acoustic ballad to a heavy power ballad and really could have been worked into a killer song. Even Glen admits in the liner notes, "(it is) a mystery why we chose not to release a song such a this at the time..." As with the other remastered editions, the booklet contains liner notes by the band, lyrics and photos from this era of the band.
Judas Priest - Priest...Live! (Columbia) 1987
This live disc was recorded during the "Turbo" tour and is not nearly as important an album as "Unleashed in the East." Still there are some great Priest classics contained herein. Even the "Turbo" material is more raw and energetic. Terrible album cover art. The remastered version has three essential songs that were recorded during the same tour. Gotta love the Harley rocking your speakers before "Hell Bent For Leather." Also nice to hear "Rock Hard, Ride Free" live.
Judas Priest - Ram it Down (Columbia) 1988
1."Ram it Down"
Judas Priest should never have covered "Johnny B. Goode." Despite this aweful song, the rest of the album is an improvement over "Turbo" and is a step closer to the masterpiece that is to come. Thankfully Priest decided to drop the synthesized guitar sound and the overtly pop metal production. The mighty Priest doing a song called "Heavy Metal" has got to be good. Other favorites are "Blood Red Skies" and "Love Zone." "Ram It Down" is actually a decent Priest song as well. This cd would prove to be the end of an era for Priest as "Ram It Down" would be the last album for long time producer Tom Allom and long time drummer Dave Holland. I never have read or heard the real reason he left, or was let go. The 2001 re-issue is probably the least necessary of them all as it includes no new studio tracks, although the two live cuts are still nice to have. No information is given as to where these two tracks were recorded. As with the other 12 remastered albums, this one also contains liner notes about the recording process. It was interesting to find out that "Johnny B. Goode" was recorded solely because they were asked to do a remake of this song for a movie soundtrack.
Judas Priest - Painkiller (Columbia) 1990
In my opinion this album is a masterpiece of pure HEAVY METAL! "Painkiller," the song, is an outstanding speed metal number with Halford singing like his life depended on it. "Leather Rebel" and "Hell Patrol" all have Halford & Co. in full throttle sounding like they were a brand new metal band, hungry and fighting for success. "Touch of Evil", while being more commercial that the rest of the disc, was one of the finest straight forward heavy metal tracks the band had written sing "Screaming for Vengeance" and is every bit the classic as anything from their '70's catalogue. Much of the stylistic change had to do with the band acquiring Racer X drummer Scott Travis, whose double bass assault had not been heard in Priest, ever! No doubt, I thought these guys would rule the world with this one. Unfortunately, this would be the last Priest album for seven years and the last album with Rob Halford as he would soon split to form Fight with Scott Travis. The 2001 remastered version contains a rare live version of "Leather Rebel" as well as an unreleased power balled titled "Living Bad Dreams."
Judas Priest - Metal Works '73-'93 (Columbia/Sony) 1993
"Metal Works" is a good overview of one of the most influencial heavy metal bands ever. I always thought that Priest were deserving of a box set and up until the 2004 "Metalogy" box set, this was the closest they came. For the most part, the band and record label did a good job selecting some of Priest's most timeless classics. Unfortunately the songs are not in chronological order, which I think would have been a bit better. Also there are no inclusions from the band's first two classic albums. They did include the awesome live versions of "Victim Of Changes but where is "Dreamer Deciever", "Tyrant" or "The Ripper"? Also, "Exciter" and "Metal Meltdown" are both edited versions. Despite these minor complaints, this disc would be a great way to introduce someone to the band. There is nothing much in the way to entice collectors who already own all the albums by the band. The insert is quite nice as well with tons of photos of the band. A remastered edition of this album was released in Europe and includes an expanded booklet.
Judas Priest - Jugulator (CMC International) 1997
I was like everybody else who thought that Judas Priest couldn't possibly go on without the mighty lungs of Rob Halford. I was certain that Judas Priest was destined to follow in the footsteps of Iron Maiden, who became a shadow of their former selves. I am not ashamed to admit I was WRONG! I'm glad I was wrong.
Fortunately CMC International made a wise decision and gave away free pre-release cassettes of "Bullet Train." That one song had me hooked. I played that song over and over again until the album was finally made avialable. I purchased a copy of "Jugulator" the day it was released. Initially I loved this disc and gave it repeated listens. It seemed that Priest were building on "Painkiller". "Bullet Train" seems to be the natural progression from "Painkiller", fast, heavy, aggressive and memorable. Other favorites are "Burn in Hell" and "Cathedral Spires", which is one of Priest's finest to date! Scoff if you must but I think "Jugulator" is essential Priest.
What can you say? As Ripper said, "The Priest is back!" This two-disc set is a killer repertoire of a band who's career has spaned three decades. This disc has everything a true fan would want, songs from almost every cd except the insipid "Turbo," lots of pics, lots of energy and tons of Priest attitude. I actually saw them on the "Jugulator" tour and they put on a killer show. It was quite nice being able to see them in a smaller venue after seeing them in the giant stadiums for years. The one thing that was/is missing is Rob Halford, but Ripper Owens does a more than adequate job of filling those hard to fill shoes. He especially sang well on the "acoustic" version of "Diamonds & Rust" proving what a phenomenal vocalist he is.
Judas Priest - Demolition (Atlantic) 2001
1. "Machine Man"
There seems to be unanimous decision on this disc. Every review I have read so far claims that this disc is a strong album but that the music is so far removed from traditional Judas Priest that it should have been released under a different name or something. As I sit listening to this disc for the second time since I purchased it, I can understand why they might think this, but I really don't think this disc is that different from the last 'Ripper' Owens led Priest offering. Granted there are a few more modern moments (see "In Between" & "Subterfuge") on the disc and the production screams of modern technology, but overall the playing style and songwriting is a natural progression from "Jugulator." With the news of Priest signing to Atlantic, I sort of figured that they would not be releasing "British Steel" Part 2. As I have said numerous times in reviews, nothing can destroy a good metal band like a big label. Atlantic have especially been known to do this. So, I suppose if you were looking for the old "Breaking the Law" Judas Priest then this disc would be a big disappointment as it's much heavier and darker than those early 80's offerings. I, however, don't see this as the big sellout to nu-metal that most seem to think it is. Am I just a Priest die-hard who thinks they can do no wrong? Not at all, but I also don't think there is anything wrong with the band pushing themselves a bit musically. After all with song titles like "Metal Messiah" how far removed could they be? Actually, songs like "One on One" and "Machine Man" are some of the best stuff Priest have written since "Painkiller" and in my opinion, better than much of the material on "Jugulator." A special two disc version of this was released in Australia. see collector's disc for more.
Judas Priest - Live in London (SPV) 2002
Well what do you know, several months after purchasing the DVD "Live in London" and I walk into Hasting's and see this CD sitting on the new releases shelf. Excellent! Another Priest album. "Live in London" the 2-CD set contains more tracks, at least of the concert portion, and comes wrapped in a silver foil box. As with the DVD, the material chose is quite good. I am surprised, however, that Priest chose to release yet another live offering when they have only released one studio album since their last "Live Meltdown" disc. Regardless, I am always eager t o hear more Priest. As with their last live disc, "Ripper" Owens does an amazing job singing both old and new songs. KK and Glen sound as good as ever, and Scott Travis is just a monster of a drummer. It was cool to see the inclusion of such obscure sons as "Desert Plains" and "United". I was surprised to see "Turbo Lover" included in this set. The song really sticks out like a sore thumb inbetween all the classic material and the heavier new material. Still, I must admit that this live version is much better than the overprocessed studio version. Overall, yet another CD that Priest fans will undoubtedly have to add to their collections. I know I did. The disc also includes some MPG files from the DVD, as well as a hefty booklet with plenty of pics and liner notes.
Judas Priest - Angel Of Retribution (Epic Records) 2005
Dickinson back in Maiden, Belladonna touring with Anthrax and Halford is back in Priest. The clouds have lifted and all is well in the land of heavy metal again. Before releasing this new CD, however, the band launch a full tour on Ozzfest and reaquant themselves with each other. Not a bad idea actually. Reunion discs can sometimes be a big letdown. However, I can honestly say that this CD is no where near a let down. The album starts off strong with what will probably be a longtime concert favorite,"Judas Rising," the anthem declaring that Judas Priest have returned. This track would have fit nicely on "Painkiller" or "Jugulator". Full-throttle Priest at their finest. I have heard complaint after complaint about the first single from the album "Revolution". Apparently people feel it isn't a strong track. Perhaps I am a Priest die-hard, but I disagree. This song is far stronger than radio staples like "Breaking the Law", which to me is not Priest's finest moment. Blasphemy? Perhaps, but I think tracks like "Metal Gods", "Rapid Fire" and "Grinder" were far superior "British Steel" tracks to "Breaking the Law" or even "Living After Midnight". That is not to say I don't like those tracks however. The same holds true of "Revolution". This song was obviously written for the radio and as such, it works well. However, I will confess that "Revolution" doesn't represent the rest of the album and therefore could come off as misplaced by some. Another complaint I have heard from some is that there are several ballads on this CD. How is this a surprise? Priest have always done power ballads, and both "Worth Fighting For" and "Angel" are fine examples. "Angel" in particular sounded really good to me from the very first listen. There are some some songs that give off a more modern vibe, like the brutal "Demonizer" which sounds a bit like the Ripper-era material. Hearing this song makes me wonder how cool songs like "Cathedral Spires" and "Bullet Train" might sound with Halford behind the mic. "Hellrider" returns with yet another song sounding like something Priest might have recorded as a follow-up to "Painkiller" had Halford not left the fold. This is double-bass driven heavy metal, al la Judas Priest, the band who defines the style. Then there's the last song of the album "Lochness" which is a 13+ minute epic, the longest song Judas Priest has ever recorded. This song has a slow, doomy, Black Sabbath feel to it. Resident guitar heros KK Downing and Glen Tipton let lose on some nice extended guitar jams on this song. All in all, while "Angel of Retribution" may not compete with "Stained Class" or "Screaming For Vengeance" as a fan favorite, it is still a very good album and a welcome return of the godfathers of heavy metal.
Three editions of this CD were released. Besides the regular CD, there is also a special limited edition which came as two discs (the CD and the DVD) in a digi-book casing, and the other is the Dual-Disc version (DCD), with the CD on one side and the DVD on the other. The Dualdisc version only contains a 40 minute documentary, while the DVD in the digipak also contains the documentary and full, live versions of the songs listed above.
DISC ONE (Act 1)
Judas Priest are legends of heavy metal and one of my all time favorite bands. Have been a fan since I was a teenager in the early 1980's. I own all of their albums, most of them on vinyl and CD. I even enjoy some of the albums most fans don't care for such as "Demolition". When I read that Priest were doing a "concept" album, I was a bit skeptical. Being a longtime fan, I guess I just always knew what to expect from Priest. So, it is with this history that I reviewed this album.
"Nostradamus" is Priest's latest offering; their first concept album, based on the life and works of the famous French, Doctor Michel de Nostredame, better known as the "seer" named Nostradamus. While Priest has given us hints of this epic, grandiose sound in the past with songs like "Sad Wings of Destiny", "Cathedral Spires" and more recently the epic length "Loch Ness", Priest are relatively known and loved for being a straight forward, traditional heavy metal band. "Nostradamus", however. is not straight forward heavy metal in the least. Rather, the focus shifts to the story line and orchestration, keyboards, choirs and lots of musical interludes between each actual song. Oddly enough, the orchestrations and musical orations actually seem to work well on this album and are overall quite enjoyable.
Of course there is still a lot of quality heavy metal here as well. After a short intro, album opener "Prophecy" kicks things off quite nicely. This song will most likely become a concert staple in the future. "Death" is one of the heavier numbers and the most Priest-like of any track, despite the epic nature of some of the vocals and orchestration. The guitar solo in this song is outstanding and reminded me of what I love so much about Priest in the past. "Persection" rips as well. On the other hand, "War" sounds like it could be the score to The Pirates of the Caribbean movie. "Exile" sounds like it should have been Manowar's last overblown, pompous, opera album. Most of the actual songs are mid-paced and are spaced out by a lot of interludes. Frankly, I think the band could have cut out a few of these interludes and made this album fit onto one CD. As it stands, "Nostradamus" is just over 90 minutes in length and is tough to sit through in one setting. The thing is, being that this album is more like watching a movie, than headbanging to usual Priest songs, it demands that you listen to the entire album.
I didn't honestly pay real close attention to the lyrics or story line here. I've never been one to over concern myself with the story lines of concept records. If the music is good, it really doesn't matter. However, Priest have also never been a band to write overly deep lyrics, and that seems to be the case here as well. The chorus to "Prophecy" simply states, "I am Nostradamus, do you believe, I am Nostradamus, that I conceive". This sort of simplicity in the lyrics echoes back to songs like "Hot Rockin'" and "Breaking the Law". The entire story line is spelled out in the massive book included in the brilliantly packaged digi-book.
While "Nostradamus" is certainly not going to top Priest's classic catalog, it is an adventurous and experimental offering from one of the world's greatest metal bands. I just hope this gets the "orchestration" and "concept album" bug out of their system and they return to playing straight-forward, balls-to-the-wall heavy metal with their next album. Even though it's a decent to very good album, it's just not what I want to hear from the mighty Priest. Leave the pomp to bands like Kamelot and Blind Guardian.
Priest have been touring relentlessly since they reunited with Halford in ‘04. I’ve seen them several times since then, including on the tours for Ozzfest, “Angel of Retribution” and “Nostradamus”. “A Touch of Evil: Live” is a compilation of songs from those tours and features songs that haven’t been released on previous live albums with Rob Halford on vocals. I’m quite happy with the song selection here, which seems focused on fan favorites, rather than hits. Frankly, who needs yet another version of “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” or “Breaking the Law”. The performances are tight. Scott Travis's furious drumming is matched by the KK Downing and Glen Tipton's awesome, monstrous guitar playing. Rob Halford sounds good, although he’s not quite hitting the highs like he use to and almost seems to be going through the motions with little enthusiasm. I’m sure his age and the relentless touring wreaks havoc on his vocal chords. At the same time, I can appreciate an honest performance and found “A Touch of Evil: Live” to be refreshingly so. This is raw, live Judas Priest and is some of the band’s heaviest material. The single disc collection also comes with a 12 page booklet with plenty of photos for our viewing pleasure. My only other complaint is that I think the band could have included a few more songs. In fact, the Japanese version of this release including “Worth Fighting For” and “Deal With The Devil”. (I really hate that!)
1. Dragonaut (4:24)
2. Redeemer Of Souls (3:58)
3. Halls Of Valhalla (6:01)
4. Sword Of Damocles (4:54)
5. March Of The Damned (3:54)
6. Down In Flames (3:52)
7. Hell & Back (4:44)
8. Cold Blooded (5:25)
9. Metalizer (4:34)
10. Crossfire (3:49)
11. Secrets Of The Dead (5:38)
12. Battle Cry (5:15)
13. Beginning Of The End (5:04)
15. Tears Of Blood
17. Bring It On
18. Never Forget
"Redeemer of Souls" is the seventeenth studio album from metal icons Judas Priest. It is their first without guitarist K.K. Downing, replaced by new guitarist Richie Faulkner (ex-Dirty Deeds).
I don't know about redeeming souls, but "Redeemer of Souls" definitely sees Judas Priest redeeming themselves from "Nostradamus". This is Judas Priest. This is heavy metal. On the first spin, "Redeemer of Souls" came off a little flat, which I blame on an odd mix/recording. The guitars are a bit boomy, rather than razor sharp and biting. I kept turning it up so that I could hear what was going on. Even after multiple listens, the production is still the one downfall on this otherwise solid platter. With repeated spins the album became more and more addictive, from the aggressive and up-tempo "Painkiller"-like songs ("Dragonaut", "Halls of Valhalla", "Metalizer") to the more melodic numbers like "Hell & Back". A few songs even reminded me of the golden 1970's years. "March of the Damned" in particular would have sat well on "Hell Bent for Leather" or "British Steel". The song has that same, mid-paced, heavy feel as songs like "Delivering the Goods" and "Grinder". "Sword of Damocles" has a bit of a Thin Lizzy vibe to it, while "Crossfire" sounds a bit closer to Halford's Fight. Rob's sings, screams and bellows like he always has. While his age may show at times, I'd be hard pressed to find fault in his vocal performance here.
Of course the big question is, how is guitarist Richie Faulkner? Well, many have said that the absence of KK is very obvious and noticeable. However, the screaming leads, the dual harmonies, and all the guitar prowess you expect from Judas Priest is still very much present. Can KK be replaced? No. However, Faulkner is no slacker and does a fine job standing next to Glenn Tipton.
For a band that is well into it's fifth decade of being masters of heavy metal, they remain relative and one of the driving forces in the genre they helped create. Over the decades they veered and explored, both successfully and sometimes at great cost, in different sounds and styles within the metal genre. However, what Priest does best is straight-forward, head-banging heavy metal and that is exactly what they deliver here.
The 2-CD Deluxe version of "Redeemer of Souls" has five additional studio tracks that were recorded during the "Redeemer of Souls" sessions. I've read comments from people who think that some of these songs are more albums worthy than some of the songs included. I'm not sure that I agree with those sentiments, but there are some good songs on the second disc. A song like "Tears of Blood" sounds like it could have been a left-over track from the "Screaming for Vengeance" album. The bonus disc ends with a emotionally charged ballad.
Judas Priest - Firepower (Columbia) 2018
Judas Priest are a band who always manage to stay relevant, decade after decade. However, no one can accuse them of putting the same album out over and over again. 2005's Nostradamus seemed to indicate that the band was headed for a downward slope. However, "Redeemer of Souls" proved that to be wrong, and 2018's "Firepower" takes it even one step higher. This album is a solid listen from the beginning to the end.
The album opens with a 1-2-3 knockout punches. The title track, "Lightning Strikes" and "Evil Never Dies" are all fast-paced heavy metal romps that will have any self- respecting rivet head banging his or her head. Scott Travis drives each song with his precision drumming which includes plenty of steady double bass, yet not to the point of overkill. Metal riffing and Rob's stealthy voice are exactly what anyone would expect from Priest. These songs, despite having a more modern production, have a vibe not unlike their classic 70's catalog. ("Rapid Fire", "Delivering the Goods", etc.) I've always felt that Priest had to dumb-down their songwriting in the 80's with albums like "British Steel" and "Screaming for Vengeance". That's not to say those albums aren't great, because they are. However, there was just something slightly more progressive and technical about their classic 70's material that is carried into the songwriting here.
"Never the Heroes" takes the speed down a few notches, but not the intensity. Though the song is just over four minutes long but the only word I can think to describe the sound here is "epic". The song is melodic, but still heavy, and has enough hook to catch an orca. Another song that really stands out to me is "Flame Thrower". The song is another straight-forward metal track but there is something compelling and different about the chorus than I've heard from Priest before. The nearly six-minute "Traitors Gate" is another standout track. This song has one of those infectious riffs driven by a steady rhythm section that Priest do so well.
There are a few slower moments such as "Sea Of Red" and the brief instrumental "Guardians", but slower moments are no stranger to Priest either. They've always incorporated balladry and melancholy moments in their songwriting.
I'm not going to say that "Firepower" is the best album since "fill in the blank". I'm just going to say that it is a darn fine Priest album. After putting the CD into my car, it remained for several months after purchasing it.