As sales of this eighteenth studio album show Judas Priest has lost none of its popularity making top five in both the USA and the UK. However, while it’s a new recording the band have made it public that some of the tunes have been waiting in the wings for a while. Certainly the album has pretty much all the attributes of classic Judas Priest and the band is back with a vengeance.
Opener ‘Firepower’ will hit you like a mallet. Driving rhythm that demands a hammerfist pump coupled with that unmistakeable Halford ‘Bond villain’ diction and tone which has lost none of its spitting venomous power. While there’s a trace of influence from symphonic metal in the next track ‘Lightning to Strike’ this recording shows a band who have not forgotten their roots. Glen Tipton’s illness may explain a little less of the famous twin guitars, but you can still hear it and bearing the band’s challenges in this respect you would never know there was a problem from the recording itself and there’s no shortage of vital guitar shredding on tracks like ‘Flamethrower’.
Prepared to get on those leathers and studs and get all of that aggression garnered from the morning commute out in the healthiest of ways to ‘Traitor’s Gate’. Priest the ultimate in Stress Relief! There’s a little of the fantasy in ‘Spectre’ and ‘Necromancer’ all the better once all that pent up energy is spent to going back to your cup of tea and tv. Judas Priest fans in general being some of the most well adjusted nicest people you could meet having no need for actual aggression in the real world after a couple of hours in the pit with ‘Halford & Co.’ ‘Never the Heroes’ can’t be listened to without thinking of the way the media wrongly painted the band after the completely unfair ‘do it’ reverse message trial in which with all divine justice the band were vindicated. When I hear ‘Evil Never Dies’ as a track on this new album I have no doubt that the band’s stance is a force for good.
Whilst Shakespeare it is not, thank god the band avoided any real temptation to ‘reinvent themselves’ taking the best modern production can offer but having helped to define heavy metal decades ago will never be afraid of who they are or try to rewrite their history as a British institution. Not updated, not improved, just more of what you have come to expect and love. Loud and Proud! Some things are not meant to be messed with. Judas Priest is one.