Review Summary: Complete with awful lyrics, bad studio effects and bland guitar playing Judas Priest release their worst album. This is the album even hardcore fans should stay clear away from.
Judas Priest - Jugulator (1997)
Tim 'Ripper' Owens - Vocals
Glenn Tipton - Lead Guitars
K.K Downing - Lead Guitars
Ian Hill - Bass
Scott Travis - Drums
It's 1997. Judas Priest has had their fair run of classic, average and downright disappointing albums. Fans would rock out to the 80's classics of 'Screaming for Vengeance' as well as older material such as "Stained Class'. It wasn't until the tail end of the 1980's that long-time fans would question the mighty metal machine and with questionable albums like 'Turbo' and 'Ram it down' rightfully so. All was forgiven however come 1990 when the band unleashed arguably their best album 'Painkiller'. New drummer Scott Travis added his frantic and intense drumming ability to the mix and breathed new life into the (at the time) aging away band. The album was a take no prisoners attempt at metal and the band pulled it off 100% pleasing long time fans and bringing many new fans along for the ride too. To cut a long story short, lead singer Rob Halford left the band to follow other projects and the mighty priest machine was put on hold for a good 6 or so years.
7 years from the release of 'Painkiller' and this different kind of beast is unleashed on the music community. The remaining member’s weren’t going to just sit and grow old! Complete with new vocalist Tim Owens they were going to produce a metal monster of an album greater than the mighty Painkiller! It was going to be the heaviest release from the band complete with soaring vocals, extreme solos, in-your-face drumming and a wall of sound to bang you head to. Judas Priest were not dead, hell, they were going to show all these up and coming metal bands how it's really done!
Or so they thought...
What we ended up with is one of the lousiest and embarrassing attempts at 'Hardcore' metal ever released to the public. The album opens up with some industrial like sound effects while a clean if not cliché' guitar riff plays. As we are introduced to Tim's effects drenched vocals the song slowly builds along until the 1:30 mark or so when the song attempts to explode. The thing is, it's just not exciting! Before you know it, the song is over and nothing jumps out at the listener or stands out, except perhaps Tim's vocals which are undoubtedly impressive.
Whoever is responsible for the lyrics on this album should hang their head in shame. Priest have never been known for their thought provoking lyrics but on previous outings we're given the impression at least some thought has gone into the lyrical ideas. All we are given here is the sad and blatant attempt at appealing to the younger generation of the metal community. tracks like 'Decapitate' contain the lyric "Your head, you will lose it", not to mention the laughably bad line found on 'abductors' "They come at night and they infiltrate you, they paralyse and they mentally rape you!" sadly the whole album is riddled with amateur lyrics and it's almost worth listening to the album to go hunting for the worst line you can find. Bad lyrics aside, I can't complain about the way they are delivered. Sure, Tim has an aggressive voice and a killer scream but this wasn't supposed to be an easy listening rock album and so his voice suits the music perfectly. In fact it's quite sad that the music is so bland because he is the only member that seems to be on top of his game.
The most unfortunate aspect of the album is the music. It's sad to see such a fun and original band sink this low. The whole album gives the impression of alienating all it's fans in attempt to cash in on the music movement of the time. Guitar effects run rampant but this isn't a Rage against the Machine album, K.K and Glenn haven't really mastered the technique of using these guitar effects and so nearly every guitar solo on this album merely comes across the listener as white noise. Perhaps if the effects were pulled out and the band just let rip, we might of had a stronger album sadly we have no memorable solo's whatsoever or any great riffs at all during the entire duration of the album. Sad, considering these are the same masterminds who gave us rifftastic tunes such as 'Electric Eye' and 'Victims of Changes'.
I would be lying if I didn't say the album had a few glimmers of life shining through it. The song 'Burn in Hell' is actually a very decent tune and besides another forgettable solo and some minor unnecessary noises the track stands strong against other Judas Priest songs and is easily the best song on the album, achieving the aggressive metal sound the band was initially going for. The song shows why Tim is the perfect replacement for Halford and to the uninitiated it would be hard to tell the two apart listening to the one song. The final Song does its job well enough bringing the album to a close, its chorus is pure power metal and the quiet introduction has some great singing and sets the mood for the song to explode. Unfortunately the guys felt it needed another signature white noise guitar solo before it smoothly moves back to another chorus or two.
At the end of the day, we get a near unlistenable album. The guitar tones sound everything has been turned up to 11 (In a bad way!), the drums are far too low in the mix and the band felt necessary to add a million and one samples, effects, beeps and sounds for no reason whatsoever. Tim seems to be the only member bringing anything to the table and he is definitely a talented singer in general if it wasn't for the teenage lyrics he would probably be taken much more seriously as a singer. If you’re new to Judas Priest this is definitely not where you should start and if you’re a hardcore fan just download 'Burn in Hell' and stay away from this abomination. This wouldn't be the last album with Ripper on board but thankfully the follow up 'Demolition' was a much more enjoyable experience than JUG-U-LA-TOR!!!