Review Summary: A bag of potato chips that is 80% air, trying to pass itself off as a full meal.
Uh-oh, we should have had Nostradamus warn us about this pile of dreck.
I don't think I'll ever get, for the life of me, why Judas Priest were ever given the moniker of the "Metal Gods". Wile it's hard to deny that they've done a great deal of legendary stuff, they've been far too inconsistent to be considered gods of any kind, and I guess while inconsistency is never always a bad thing, it's most baffling in Priest's case. It's understandable that it would be hard to keep the momentum up when you released your first album in 1973, but since the eighties they've made some seriously questionable decisions such as going hair metal for two albums, writing lyrics about how great they are and how you'd be an idiot to disagree, and the nineties didn't see them faring much better. With Halford's departure, two failed attempts at power metal and a questionable vocalist, later it's amazing they're still here today and that Halford's was willing to rejoin.
Ever wondered what it would sound like if Priest took "Loch Ness", the laughably awful track that closes Angel of Retribution
(an album just as half-arsed as its two predecessors) and made an entire album out of it? Enter Nostradamus
, a 100 minute long vapid triumph of style over content, and an unfortunate failed attempt at artistry that only confirms to Priest's detractors that they sadly may have been saying about them all along. Now, I'm assuming a lot of you reading this review are old enough to remember when KISS tried a stab at artistic respectability with Music from The Elder
and failed greatly? Well, you get the idea here. This may even be more cringe-worthy than the KISS example, however. Wile there were still shades of the KISS sound and it was an interesting and sometimes beautifully artistic project that failed this album is 100 minutes of almost pure vapidity and cheesiness with very little redeeming quality.
The biggest problem with Nostradamus
is that it's 100 minutes long (read: two discs) and there's not even enough content for half that. The majority of the tracks on the album (not counting the pointless and awful interludes) run, on average 5-8 minutes long. Not that I mind long songs, except they're padded out, repetitive, lack interesting riffs or lyrics. There are a few moments where you'll hear an interesting riff, but then you'll quickly grow tired of it, and it gets mind-numbingly boring- because it's repeated so many damned times. I liken it to making a project on Windows Movie Maker and realizing you haven't put enough content (be it video or music), you decide to repeat the same audio clip or video clip 20 times to make it reach a certain length. It's to the point where cut all the repetition out and the album would be 25 minutes long. It should be telling when Glen Tipton himself says that he had trouble cutting the album down. A big red flag there and a sign of pompousness.
And then there are the moments where the album tries to be all "big and epic". I was under the impression that Halford had been listening to those bad power metal bands from Europe and decided, "hey, let's haphazardly throw all these orchestrations and choirs on, maybe it'll stop people from falling asleep". Except the orchestrations are cringe-inducingly band and feel tacked on and, as I stated earlier, pointless. I listen to "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg" or "For the Greater Good of God" from Iron Maiden's album A Matter of Life and Death
and I feel like the orchestrations are there for a reason. Here, they're pointless and add absolutely nothing to the music.
It's also worth noting that the album is a concept album based on Nostradamus, and as expected, it's rubbish. Concept albums are a gamble; for every Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
there's an American Idiot
, and for every Frances the Mute
, an Operation Mindcrime II
. The lyrics are just plain bad, and while Rob Halford's vocal performance can be dull at times, it's hard to blame him when you have lyrics like these:
I will take your final breath
And I will be your last regret
Cold blood runs in my blackened heart
Tearing every soul apart
That little stanza there is from "Death", and I promise you I didn't take it from an Iced Earth song. The lyrics do nothing to redeem the album's turgid concept and only seem to throw in more cringe-making curveballs at every turn.
The album does pick up towards the end, however, with the last couple tracks: "Nostradamus", a very catchy song remiscent of old-school Priest, and an excellent closer "Future of Mankind" does feel epic and closes the album on a good note. However, that's all I have to say about the album that's positive. There's no reason for songs like "Death" or "Alone" to be 8 minutes long when they're as stupidly boring as they are. "Lost Love" is a disgustingly corny ballad that makes Maiden's "Wasting Love" seem profound. And then there's "Persecution", a hilarious track that sounds like its trying to emulate the Painkiller
era and ends up sounding like a boss battle in Final Fantasy VII
, although the outro is kind of cool.
So really, there's no reason at all to buy this album unless you have Judas Priest's logo tattooed across your back. It is the musical equivalent of a bag of potato chips with 80% air in the bag, trying to convince you that there's enough to keep you full. It's a failed attempt at progressive rock and whole prog is indeed a hard genre to pull off, there's ways of doing it that aren't cheesy, Spinal Tap of boring. This album is all 3, and aside from two tracks and an outro that is kind of cool, there is nothing redeeming about the album at all.