Review Summary: Take it with a grain of salt, but Priest’s eighteenth record is the best thing the band have done in years.
For metal, there’s few names that when mentioned need no other explanation. The likes of Iron Maiden and Metallica may have made timeless classics, defining both cult and mainstream followings rivalled by few others within the industry but there are those who lacked the notoriety, or the sheer grand scale of success. Instead being a slow-burning flame giving us the hope that there’s more “classics” waiting for a chance to be heard. Judas Priest became a staple of the broader “metal” sound, revelling in their underdog status in the shadows of these “more popular” acts while also defining themselves as a quiet achiever in a field of giants. That’s not to say that the likes of Judas Priest aren’t worthy of a mention in the same sentence as the mighty Maiden, rather this powerhouse of polished steel and timely hooks simply brings back the band’s relevance found in their 70’s and 80’s (arguably, Priest’s hey-day) and melds a 2018 cover onto their aging greatness. Firepower
is the most Judas Priest album the band has released in years, if only deepened by its members’ thinning hair (obvious bald references aside) and fading leather jackets.
is a polished and punchy recording, showcasing the likes of Andy Sneap on the album’s production helping this tried and true recipe sound modern, despite the fact that these guys have been doing this well for years. Considering the timelessness of Rob Halford’s now ageing vocal chords and the expected tear and wear that come from endless live shows and recording sessions (not to mention the documented substance/alcohol abuse that plagued some of our greats in their hey-day) his vocals have stood up year after year. Judas Priest’s front man still maintains an unrivalled vocal dexterity for a man simply ‘doing the rounds’ since forming this pioneering act forty-nine years ago.
Noticeably, is Halford’s (slightly) lower register, saving his signature high’s for fleeting moments throughout the album, creating nostalgic impressions of the band’s golden years without straining his 67 year old vocal chords to a point of cringe worthy, half-baked falsetto. It matters little that Judas Priest lose a small element of their signature sound, focusing on sheer quality of sound than holding onto lost dreams, but Halford’s soaring vocals are only one part of the Priest soundscape. Dual screaming guitars punch riffs through the speakers, ready to smack their listener in the ear. Licks and riffs aplenty bounce off emotive war cries and easily audible bass grooves. Judas is both new and old, revelling in a bombastic display of all the typical traits that helped define Judas Priest as exactly that: Judas [fuc
At times it’s easy to forget that Priest’s members are heading towards (or are in) their smooth 70’s. Their music is well practised, fresh and has enough punch to rival any upcoming band with their faux leather jackets and pimple sores. Firepower
has enough gusto to blow most modern bands’ releases out of the water, before immolating them with their flamethrowers. Sure, there are some flaws to the band’s eighteenth studio effort, but it’s hardly worth bringing up the change in the vocal range and the fact that Judas Priest simply going through the motions, is exactly that. Overall, Firepower
is best thing Judas Priest has slapped their name on in fifteen years, and as unlikely as it may be we all pray to Judas that there’ll be at least five more before Halford and co. retire to their rocking chairs and “old man” stories.