Judas Priest's new album Redeemer Of Souls hits the stores this week... but have the band returned with a bang or a whimper? Malcolm Dome reveals what the new album taught him.
Judas Priest: Redeemer of Souls
The mighty Kings of British Steel are back with a new album, their first since 2008's Nostradamus.
You won't miss K.K. Downing
It's the first time Priest have recorded without the man who founded the band more than 40 years ago. But Downing has been seamlessly replaced by Richie Faulkner. The new chap not only fits right into the unmistakable Priest dual guitar groove, but has given the band a fresh impetus. There's a sharpness about the performances that can sometimes happen when somebody comes into a major band.
It's old school Priest
Those who were disappointed by 2008's conceptual Nostradamus – and this writer still has a strong affection for it! - or loathed the epic Lochness from 05's Angel Of Retribution – Classic Rock's Geoff Barton wasn't a fan - will be relieved that Redeemer Of Souls is a return to the tighter format earlier Priest albums. In fact, the style brings to mind Sin After Sin and Stained Class. No complaints here.
Halford's vocvals have changed
Inevitably, the Metal God can't scream the way he once did. And there are those who have been critical of his more pragmatic approach. But he still sounds like nobody else, he still has a menacing, melodramatic edge and he doesn't sound at all as if he's struggling. This is one deity who ain't about to abdicate.
The lyrics are still suitably silly
You'd expect nothing else from songs with titles like Dragonaut, Metalizer and Sword Of Damocles. The cod C_onan The Barbarian_ storylines make Manowar sound like a tea break at the church bazaar...OK, not really, but they are pure Halford.
So, it is this a classic?
Well, it isn't Painkiller, or British Steel, or Sad Wings Of Destiny. But it's a lot better than some feared. It shows there's considerable life in the Priest limbs, and these metal legends are not living off past glories. Live, a lot of these songs will sit comfortably alongside the usual suspects as well. In short, it'll more than do.