sat 21/09/2019

CD: Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls

CD: Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls

Are the veteran Brum-rockers ripe for re-appraisal?

Priest: well-honed tandem guitars plus screams

Maybe they really just don’t make ‘em like they used to. The latest in 2014’s prestigious roll-call of bus-pass rockers is Judas Priest - back minus one original guitarist (relative youngster Richie Faulkner replaces K.K. Dowling). Redeemer of Souls may have been recorded by a bunch of guys mainly in their sixties but the LP feels almost as preposterous, exhilarating and entertaining as anything they’ve ever done. It’s also a real contender for metal album of the year.

Comparisons will inevitably be made with Sabbath’s recent 13. Both are comebacks of sorts and both bands are synonymous with the blackest of Black Country music. But whereas Sabbath chose to look straight to their classic period, Priest have opted for a kind of reverse sweep of their various phases. Their 1974 debut, Rocka Rolla is represented by “Hell and Back” and “Crossfire” which both have a chugging Seventies blues feel. Then, right on the last track, “Beginning of the End”, Tipton and Faulkner bring us a series of acoustic arpeggios cut reminiscent of Dreamer Deceiver” and the progressive days of ‘76’s Sad Wings of Destiny.

Other than a few, inevitable, fillers the rest of album comprises a selection of memories from Priest’s fertile Eighties and early Nineties - a time when Rob Halford’s leather outfits were the envy of Freddie Mercury and their music was a well-honed tandem-guitar-plus-scream. The best two tracks are “Halls of Valhalla” and “Sword of Damocles” whose cod-Tolkein lyrics, epic vocals and neo-classical guitars are more than self-referential – they echo the entire spirit of the heyday of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (let's face it, metal's finest hour). It makes you wonder why, in a decade when Motorhead, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath have all found much wider audiences, Judas Priest are still stuck in a metal niche?

Overleaf: watch a preview of Judas Priest's "March of the Damned"

The LP feels almost as preposterous, exhilarating and entertaining as anything they’ve ever done

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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