As they slowly approach their 50th anniversary, Judas Priest have released a brand new studio album. The album, Firepower, is the band’s first album since 2014’s Redeemer of Souls and their eighteenth studio album overall. On the production side, the band worked with producer Andy Sneap and even Tom Allom, who produced Priest’s studio work in the 1980s. From top to bottom, Firepower is a strong album and a worthy follow up to Redeemer of Souls.
The album opens fittingly firing on all cylinders with the title track. Right from the start, it’s a brutal throwdown of heavy metal- complete with gallops, chugs and twin guitar harmonies from guitarists Ritchie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton. Singer Rob Halford shrieks his way through the song, as well as the entire album. Even at 66 years old, Halford’s voice still sounds solid. Some listeners might be impressed by Halford’s ability to hit those high notes, especially on songs such as the hard-hitting “Lightning Strikes” and the rapid fire “Flame Thrower.” The former is the lead single for the album while the latter has some top notch drumming from Scott Travis. With a title like Firepower, you would expect the songs from such an album to live up to that title. The album certainly does live up to its title with massive onslaughts of heavy metal delivered through songs such as the menacing “Evil Never Dies” and the guitar-driven “Traitors Gate.” While a heavy album throughout its near one hour runtime, the band are able to present different variations to the Judas Priest sound. Songs such as the militant “Rising from Ruins” and the hypnotic “Spectre” demonstrate the band’s ability in composing slower tunes while maintaining a heavy sound. Other songs on here sound as if the band are taking inspiration from their peers. The psychedelic “Children of the Sun” and the doom-ridden “Lone Wolf” both sound like songs Black Sabbath could’ve churned out back in the day. Like Redeemer of Souls, Firepower ends with a ballad- “Sea of Red.” While I prefer “Beginning of the End,” “Sea of Red” ends the album on a good note.
Simply put, Firepower is another great album from Judas Priest. After four listens, I’m now finding myself preferring this over Redeemer of Souls. I still like Redeemer of Souls but I feel that Firepower is a more consistent album. With a new album out, the band will be touring in support of it. Prior to the album’s release, it was sadly announced that longtime guitarist Glenn Tipton would be retiring from live performing given his diagnosis with Parkinson ’s disease ten years prior. While Andy Sneap will be filling in for him, Tipton will remain a member of Judas Priest. For the first time since their early years, Judas Priest will be touring without the twin guitar duo of KK Downing and Glenn Tipton- which is a massive loss. With an album as strong as Firepower, this would be a good album to go out with. Some fans are even asking for the band to hang it up. For the time being, I think we should just sit back and enjoy this new album.