Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls

Judas Priest - Redeemer of SoulsSix years after their last album, and three years after the start of their supposedly last and appropriately titled Epitaph tour, British metal masters Judas Priest return with a new recording line-up and a new album. But can Redeemer of Souls measure up to past material? The answer is two-fold.

First off: Redeemer of Souls is not as bad as some make it out to be. Then again, it’s also not as good as other say it is. The biggest problem here is the production, which sounds a bit too tame, and Rob Halford. The man can still sing, but perhaps it’s time to stop, as he doesn’t pack a vocal punch like he used to, and quite frankly drags down what could otherwise be considered pretty damn good material. Halford’s scream used to be spine-tingling and blood-curdling, but these days are long gone. On Redeemer of Souls, whenever he attempts to scream, he sounds like a demented duck. It doesn’t work, and Halford knows it. This is probably the reason the newest batch of Priest songs are sung, and played, in a depressingly low key.

It’s especially the chorus of most songs that suffer here. They used to be the highlight of the songs back in the day. On Redeemer of Souls, the key drops more often than not, with both the band and Halford working towards a climax that never comes. And it’s a shame, because in a lot of places, Redeemer of Souls is an arguably better record than Nostradamus and Angel of Retribution combined, and there’s something for everyone on it. From speeding metal on Metalizer to epic hymns like Halls of Valhalla or Sword of Damocles to a song like Crossfire, which finally brings a bit of blues back into Priest, this is one varied album.

Especially the guitars sound particularly inspired this time, and it’s probably safe to say that the change in personnel (founding member K.K. Downing retired just before the Epitaph tour, to be replaced by Richie Faulkner) has infused Priest with some much needed fresh energy. It is also clear that playing classic Priest material for close to a year together with the band has really done Faulkner some good, because he sounds as much like Downing as possible, without losing his own identity. This becomes especially clear on the second half of the album, with speedier songs like Metalizer and Battle Cry (on which Halford turns in a steller performance as well, compared to the rather tame vocal work found elsewhere on Redeemer of Souls.

Of course, in the end, Judas Priest’s seventeenth album is no Ram it Down, Screaming for Vengeance or Painkiller, but it’s a giant leap forward from the experiment that was Nostradamus, and sounds fresher and more inspired than Angel of Retribution. It’s a shame that the album sort of dies out like a candle with the ballad Beginning of the End. This is not the way a potential last Judas Priest should simmer out on. The less than stellar production and Halford’s rather tame vocal work aside, Redeemer of Souls is an album which should please most Priest fans out there.

Release date: out now
Label: Epic Records

Track listing:

  1. Dragonaut (4:26)
  2. Redeemer of Souls (3:58)
  3. Halls of Valhalla (6:04)
  4. Sword of Damocles (4:54)
  5. March of the Damned (3:55)
  6. Down in Flames (3:56)
  7. Hell & Back (4:46)
  8. Cold Blooded (5:25)
  9. Metalizer (4:37)
  10. Crossfire (3:51)
  11. Secrets of the Dead (5:41)
  12. Battle Cry (5:18)
  13. Beginning of the End (5:07)

Line-up:

  • Rob Halford – vocals
  • Glenn Tipton – guitar
  • Richie Faulkner – guitar
  • Ian Hill – bass
  • Scott Travis – drums

Further surfing:

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s