The tone of this latest Judas Priest album is in keeping with recent trends, taking in all decades of their past, but squaring in on the ‘Painkiller’ era.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Judas Priest
LABEL: Columbia, Sony Music, Epic
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Rob Halford – vocals * Glenn Tipton – guitar * Richie Faulkner – guitar * Ian Hill – bass * Scott Travis – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Firepower * 02 Lightning Strike * 03 Evil Never Dies * 04 Never The Heroes * 05 Necromancer * 06 Children Of The Sun * 07 Guardians * 08 Rising From Ruins * 09 Flame Thrower * 10 Spectre * 11 Traitors Gate * 12 No Surrender * 13 Lone Wolf * 14 Sea Of Red
WEBLINKS: Site Link
The recent news that Glenn Tipton is suffering from Parkinson’s disease and would be forced off the road, put a slight dampener on the release of ‘Firepower’, Judas Priest’s first effort in four years. With Tipton at the age of 70, this type of thing is inevitable unfortunately and it’s almost a miracle Priest are still creating new music this late in the game.
This time around the band bought back noted producer Tom Allom to assist Andy Sneap in recapturing the aura of the bands vintage years, with the album’s production infinitely more satisfying than ‘Redeemer of Souls’. It’s also a step up from the last two disappointing efforts, while never really blowing the lid off proceedings at the same time.
The tone of the album is in keeping with recent trends, taking in all decades of their past, but squaring in on the ‘Painkiller’ era.
For better or worse, that album seems to have defined Judas Priest for the last 28 years and the title track is definitely cut from the same cloth. Explosive speed fueled power metal, exactly what you want to hear from Priest. It shows the band can still cut it in the heaviness stakes, but there just isn’t enough of it throughout the album.
‘Lightning Strike’ and ‘Evil Never Dies’ are both pure heavy metal classics, surging along with galloping riffs and Halford’s seemingly timeless screams. ‘Never The Heroes’ is on the cusp of heavy AOR, this one nestled firmly in the 80’s and another anthem which eased its way into my consciousness after repeated listening. ‘Necromancer’ is another potent cut, with a nice mid-paced assault and hook, good enough to stand with any Priest classic.
‘Children Of The Sun’ takes things down a notch, a slower but equally melodic cut with some acoustic shadings recalling the gothic 70’s period of the band. ‘Guardians’ is a brief one minute piano based instrumental, which leads into ‘Rising To Ruins’ where the band maintains the slower, but still heavy direction of the previous song.
‘Flame Thrower’ picks up the pace somewhat, the riffs chugging along nicely, a real strong point of the album. This is so metal you can’t help but shake your head. The fact I want to listen to this song over and over tells the story, something I can’t say of the last two albums.
‘Spectre’ is slightly more repetitive, again plundering the mid-paced range, but being saved by more outstanding guitar work. ‘Traitors Gate’ has an epic power metal glow to it, another solid offering, which pairs well with the furious ‘No Surrender’. The latter is crunching, again with a smidgen of heavy AOR in the chorus, showing just how well rounded this band always has been.
During ‘Lone Wolf’ I swore this was something off ‘Sin After Sin’. It has a 70’s bent to the riffs and vocals, almost in a heavy blues manner. This is exceptional material and a real eye opener, proving the band still isn’t afraid to experiment.
‘Sea Of Red’ closes the album on a sedate note, a dreamy acoustic track for the first half, which again recalls the 70’s period. It does pick up the pace, with some choral work which adds an extra edge.
For me this is the best Judas Priest album since Halford returned to the fold in 2005. It’s a superb balance of the new and old, but still sounds contemporary and decisively makes a mockery of other veteran acts continuing to release stale and bland retreads (Accept, Saxon etc.).
It didn’t convince me on the first few listens, but five or six more and it clicked. Could it be heavier? Sure, but it’s a minor complaint. Patience was certainly the key with ‘Firepower’. As classic as modern day metal gets, this should be received eagerly by any Judas Priest or metal fan.