Redeemer of Souls
Think about this: how many bands have embarked on farewell tours and actually meant it? There aren't too many. In some cases, bands might call off the break up as they feel they have some unfinished business. When it comes to Judas Priest, this is certainly the case. The proof can be found on their new studio album, Redeemer of Souls. Despite having their Epitaph World Tour in 2011, the pioneering English heavy metal band is still going strong. Redeemer of Souls is the band's first studio album since 2008's conceptual album Nostradamus, an album that puzzled many Priest fans. This is also the band's first album without original member and guitarist KK Downing, who surprisingly left in 2011 before the Epitaph World Tour. His replacement, Richie Faulkner, has given the band a much needed kick-in-the-pants: Redeemer of Souls is one hell of an album.
The band gets down to business with "Dragonaut," a rip roaring opener with a great chugging guitar riff. The song is, in short, Priest doing classic Priest. Singer Rob Halford sounds great, and that's saying a lot considering the metal god is 62 years old. While one might notice his voice has certainly seen better days, I'd say Halford sounds better than most of his peers throughout the album. The title track, the lead single off the album, is another hard rocker. Although it does sound an awful lot like "Hell Patrol" from Painkiller, it's still an impressive track. Priest certainly knows how to pack their songs with a punch. "Halls of Valhalla" is an example of this, featuring thunderous drumming from Scott Travis and an impressive twin guitar solo from guitarists Richie Faulkner and Glenn Tippton. Halford even throws in a few screams, along with some growling vocals. Priest continues to deliver the goods on the guitar heavy "Down in Flames," the galloping "Battle Cry," and the sludge metal sounds of "Hell & Back," which features an impressive bass line from bassist (as well as sole original member) Ian Hill.
While Redeemer of Souls is a solid album throughout, the album has its drawbacks. First of all, the production isn't the best but this is expected as many modern day CDs suffer from what is called the "loudness war." The album is also an hour long, which means there is some filler. Still, some good can be found in the weaker songs. "Sword of Damocles" has too much going on musically but the song is great lyrically. "March of the Damned" suffers from the opposite problem, but it can be enjoyed for the guitar work alone. The rest of the album is pretty strong, which make up for the weaker tracks. The hard-hitting "Metalizer" certainly lives up to its name while the Hendrix-esque "Crossfire" is good fun. The album surprisingly ends with the slow ballad "Beginning of the End." The song is so impressive, it almost harkens back to the band's early material, ala Sad Wings of Destiny era.
Redeemer of Souls is an impressive album from a legendary band. I have to have that I didn't really expect this from the band. Fans will want to pick this one up. Personally, this might be their most consistent since Painkiller. I think it's safe to say that Judas Priest are back. For those who think otherwise: you've got another thing coming.