Saturday, 13 September 2014

Album Review; Judas Priest - Redeemer Of Souls

Track Listing:

1. Dragonaut
2. Redeemer Of Souls
3. Halls Of Valhalla
4. Sword Of Damocles
5. March Of The Damned.
6. Down In Flames
7. Hell & Back
8. Cold Blooded
9. Metalizer
10. Crossfire
11. Secrets Of The Dead
12. Battle Cry
13. Beginning Of The End

Judas Priest have a new album out. That sentence alone should fill you with anticipation, but there may be people out there who approach this album cautiously due to the divisive nature of the 2008 concept album 'Nostradamus'. We should all be glad to discover that 'Redeemer Of Souls' sees Priest return to the sound of such albums as 'Screaming For Vengeance', 'Killing Machine' and 'Sad Wings Of Destiny'.

'Dragonaut' opens this thirteen song record with panache and the sheer balls to begin with the lyric "Welcome to my world of steel". Instantly, with the combination of Rob Halford's inimitable voice and iron-clad riffs, the Metal Gods are back in style. Mike Exeter's production job on this album is instantly powerful and everything that a band as legendary as this deserves. The title track of the album carries things forward in an equally satisfying manner, but it's 'Halls Of Valhalla' that takes things to the high points and gets heads banging, not least due to it being the first song to feature the frontman's now-iconic and still impressive screams.

Ritchie Faulkner, new guitarist replacing K.K. Downing fits into the band well, trading great solos with Glenn Tipton and keeping the sound of the band authentic. The album is not full of instant-hits though; 'March Of The Damned' is a Sabbath-like slow burner, but when it grows on you, you're hooked for life. 'Down In Flames' features some great guitar work, with dual harmonies galore, reminiscent of 'Screaming For Vengeance' era material. 'Hell & Back' is a soulful yet rocking ballad that seems to tell of the ups-and-downs of the band's career, and do so with a fantastic riff that could be a classic in the Priest canon.

'Cold Blooded' is another slow number that is rather introspective, much like 'Prisoner Of Your Eyes' from the aforementioned 'Screaming For Vengeance'. 'Metalizer' on the other hand, harks back to the time of 'Painkiller' with a constant stampede of palm-muted guitars and thunderous percussion.

Another curveball is 'Crossfire', which has a swinging rhythm to it and some vocal dynamics as the song progresses, steadily speeding up. Perhaps the most gripping and euphoric song on this record is 'Battle Cry', which is every bit a Judas Priest classic from its heroic lyrical content, to it's staccato-edged riff and soaring chorus, bringing back memories of the song 'One Shot Of Glory' from 'Painkiller', with its epic feel.

'Beginning Of The End' has a finality to it, with Rob Halford singing a heartfelt eulogy that could bring a tear to any dedicated Metalhead. If this should turn out to be Judas Priest's final curtain call before they ascend further into Metal legend, then this song is a fitting close to a triumphant and long career for the first bona-fide Metal band. However, if recent interviews and the sheer exuberance of this record are anything to go by, then I reckon there's a lot of life in the Metal Gods yet. Is 'Redeemer Of Souls' their best work ever? No, of course not. It can stand shoulder to shoulder with any of their great albums though, and for a band seventeen albums into their career, that's more than most could expect.

Rating: 8/10

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