Heavy metal legends Judas Priest redeem themselves with their new metal album!
Judas Priest released their 17th album, “Redeemer of Souls” in July of this year (2014) and they seem to be showing no signs of slowing down or getting soft. Their previous album, “Nostradamus” was released in 2008 and while the band have been touring, they released no new material until now, but it may seem that the wait for all their fans was well worth it!
“Redeemer of Souls” is the first Priest album they have recorded since long-time band member and guitarist, K. K. Downing left the band in 2011, but the “new guy” Richie Faulkner is more than up to the challenge and keeps the riffs and solos of the double-team guitar attack that the Priest is so well known for, going hard and strong. The band had announced back in January of 2011 that they were writing new material for an album and three years later they have presented us with what I can confidently call a “metal masterpiece” that reaches back to the mystical metal soul of earlier Judas Priest recordings.
The 13 tracks take you on a pretty wild ride, starting off with a classic Priest guitar riff on the opener “Dragonaut”. One thinks of “Turbo Lover” on overdrive as the guitars (Glenn Tipton and Faulkner) and drums (Scott Travis) kick in. Rob Halford’s gritty and immediately recognisable vocals as he sings “Fire in the sky paralyzed with fear…” is as powerful as ever.
Having said this, I can’t help but notice (and point out) that the typical Halford scream (that gave me goosebumps on 1988’s “Blood Red Skies”) isn’t quite as menacing as it once was. On “Halls of Valhalla” he tries to hit those high notes, but undoubtedly falls a bit short. This does not, however, diminish the overall power of the 63-year old’s vocals because he can still belt out a range of emotions through his singing. Halford’s singing is not the only thing that makes these tracks quintessentially “classic Judas Priest”. The band is as tight as ever with Faulkner seemingly with ease stepping into Downing’s metal boots and “sparring” with Tipton on their dual guitar attack. Almost every track has a solo or a riff that will please even the most die-hard of Judas Priest and/or heavy metal fans.
“March of the Damned” is a track that stands out musically and it showcases the dual guitar attack that the Priest are known for, while Travis on the drums and Priest veteran on the bass Ian Hill give the song that fundamental rhythm and foundation that lets the guitars go wild. “Down in Flames” keeps the fast tempo going strong with Halford’s vocals dominating as the guitar riffs spice things up from start to finish. “Cold Blooded” is a mellow and wild combo of a track that has slow, melodic elements with Halford’s singing exploring a range of emotions and the guitars coming in now and again to keep you on your toes. The aptly named “Metalizer” is a true metal gem with loud and fuzzy distorted guitars, sporadic and assertive drumming and a speed/thrash metal solo that epitomises the sound of real, unadulterated heavy metal music.
“We were ready to get the metal roaring again.” – Rob Halford
“Crossfire” is a metal track with a subtle hint of blues coming through in it’s main riff, complete with classic rock elements in it’s solos and bluesy, mystical outro. “Battle Cry” may seem like the track that most resembles what Judas Priest and heavy metal really is. It flows like a dramatic opera, starting off with a slow, ascending guitar sound that gives way to sudden and hard hitting drumming and a bass line that won’t budge for anyone before Halford kicks in with the vocals. The album closer, “Beginning of the End” is the only song on the record that doesn’t hark back to the glory days of fast and energetic metal. It is, in fact, a ballad…yes, a Judas Priest ballad. The guitars are slow, with lots of finger picking instead of crunchy power chords and with tender and melodic drumming. The track does a number of things to perfection, the main element being Rob Halford’s singing. His voice is simultaneously soulful, mournful, sad, angry and emotional and this song is the perfect platform for him to showcase just how good a vocalist he really is (for those who didn’t know so already). At times it sounds as if there is a chorus of Rob Halfords singing at the same time (without actually being over-dubbed) while the guitars cry along to his emotive lyrics. If I can say one “upsetting” thing about this song is that it’s missing at least one heartfelt and emotional guitar solo, somewhere near the end, during the bridge of the song. There is a small riff that is played, but a soulful song such as this needs to have that one solo that will bring it all to a great and satisfying climax, which this song just doesn’t have.
The Birmingham band, that formed waaaay back in 1969, have proved once again that age is nothing but a number when it comes to making some really sick and head-banging music! “Redeemer of Souls” is a truly good (I won’t say great) metal album that showcases the power of Judas Priest and is proof that this fine metal band still has what it takes to start multiple mosh pits during a live show! Whether this is the last Judas Priest album no one is sure quite yet, with Glenn Tipton relaying his uncertainty about the band’s future when he said “In a way, I suppose, it’s also our farewell album, although it might not be our last one.”
Whether it’s their final album or not, one thing is for sure… Judas Priest are still big in the metal world, with “Redeemer of Souls” being the band’s first Top 10 debut in the US charts and reaching #1 in the UK Rock & Metal Albums chart, #1 the US Top Hard Rock Albums and US Top Rock Albums charts and #1 on the Finnish charts. Halford said it best in an interview about the writing of the record, when he said “We were ready to get the metal roaring again. The Priest is back in that world of classic metal which we wanted to reinforce again.”
And reinforce is exactly what they have done. “Redeemer of Souls” is a classic Judas Priest album with the hard riffs, dynamic solos and emotive vocals that have been exciting metal heads (not to mention rock music lovers in general as well) over the years and if it does happen to be their last album, it’s undoubtedly going to be a great one.
Note for Note Blog Album Rating: 4/5 RockStars