Yes sir, Redeemer Of Souls comes as a wish to recreate the widely applauded Screaming for Vengeance from 1982, which was the 8th album for those guys from Birmingham after six years of vanishing after Nostradamus in 2008. Also, it’s the first album after K. K. Downing‘s departure from the band after loads of managerial and personal feuds with elements from them, to be replaced by Richie Faulknr.
Fun fact: The first word in the album is “Welcome” which is a hint that clearly emphasizes their will to get back on the top as they aimed since launching in 1969, Judas Priest was consumed with the aim of getting a unique sound for each track, in each album… which drove them to try NOT to have a musical fingerprint to help listeners know that the track you play is theirs unless you are familiar with the badass, Rob Halford.
To my surprise the album was too – how can I say it – mature? Looks like that the 45 years run has taken its toll over Halford‘s voice as rarely to find the siren scream of his popping out in the tracks, it even goes to the extent of being between normal and bass tone of voice in tracks like ‘March of the damned’. Truth be told I’m trying not to go full reviewer-Nazi here, so here goes.
Spooky start lining up with the artwork, which is different of the Redeemer of souls single artwork, they released earlier this year, check it out. It is awesome:
‘Dragonaut’ is the first track of the album that welcomes your surprised ears to the old sound of heavy metal, with the drums just there in the background and the guitars sounding like 1970 and the same tapping solos that gets the wind into your soul as you imagine flying with your motorbike over the road. Such a good start with a shot of adrenaline getting you ready for a heart pumping old heavy metal riff in ‘Redeemer of Souls’ that was released on 28 April 2014, get a taste of the rush here:
Another fading-in intro, mighty and old fashioned –in a good way- ‘Halls of Valhalla’ followed –FINALLY! – At minute 4:30 with a scream riding the riff cross the track taking you in journey of a warrior awaiting his heavenly end at Valhalla.
Things start to get catchy with ‘Sword of Damocles’ alongside ‘March of the Damned’, two tracks got the hardcore fans we surveyed to admit that the band, especially that Rob Halford sounded “younger” than previous records in 2005 and 2008. ‘Down in flames’ is the Easter egg inside the album that proves again band’s obsession with using other musical styles when it comes to composing music, as hard rock-y as it sounds you’re gonna enjoy the fast paced core-rock solos and vocal lines.
Come to think of it, being able to maintain this level of quality in a world infested with too much fusion and (something-Core) and Nu-metal bands is really a point of admiration for the game’s old soldiers. Back to the smooth rock atmosphere in ‘Hell and Back’ to hear about the band’s struggles….
“Out of the fire and into the black
We’ve been through it all
We’ve been to hell and back
Taking it up higher when you’re under attack
We’ve been through it all
We’ve been to hell and back”
Caught my ear how different “cold blooded” sounded as it has the heavy metal theme with some elements from more advanced metal genres like melodic death and power metal… just WOW! Then again the same flaw in every track: Rob Halford sounding tired, worn out to a surprising point that popped also in ‘Metalizer’ aside of an automated scream in the opening.
The black horse inside the album will be the idea of giving heavy metal some other elements like previous melodic death then the metal-core down tempos, to hit the groovy country tunes by ‘Crossfire’ sounding finally like almost a heavy metal track all the way.
At some point in ‘Secrets of the Dead’ you ask yourself: “Is that a gothic rock album?” They sound too much like the masters Type O Negative, the gloomy-sleepy moods all across the track. So my personal favorite turns out to be ‘Battle Cry’ as it tickled the Judas Priest fan boy in me with the most kickass intro for the record! To crash so hard to the ground because of the tired vocal lines. Why Rob, why ?
They end the road with ‘Beginning of the end’, a sad closure to a troublesome album built by one of the most controversial bands ever….
” And I see my life pass quickly by
I am watching
All these years we thought we were so wise
They mean nothing
Walk alone into the dying mist come alive forever
See the things we’ve never seen before
Hand in hand together
They galling rays are lighting up the open door
We’ve all been waiting for
All the voices are calling me
Showing the path that is clear
So lay me down
Lay me to rest
It’s over now ’cause I know
It’s the beginning of the end”
The whole track is a last gasp of air after a long, bumpy, tearful ride started back in the 60’s and laying anchor in 2014, many assumptions say that this will be the last encounter for the band. It all ended once and for all. I know many of you assume it’s just for the press but no, this will be the dawn of the Painkiller era.
It was a fun ride with this band, so until we meet again.