Thursday, July 17, 2014

Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls (2014)

It has been 40 years since a bunch of British lads laid the foundation of heavy metal with their debut album "Rocka Rolla" and it has all led towards this moment. After 16 albums, tons of laps around the globe and several good and bad times, Judas Priest has created what seems to become their very last album.

"Redeemer of Souls" is the follow up album to the 6 year old predecessor "Nostradamus", and if that album was a wild experimentation, this album is the complete opposite. "Redeemer of Souls" is more or less a beginners guide to Judas Priest. It is pure heavy metal that takes you back to several of the band's master pieces, especially the amazing "Painkiller" is represented a lot in this album. It actually would have been a perfect follow up album to the excellent "comeback" record "Angel of Retribution" if "Nostradamus" was not squeezed in between.

Lot of the talk around this album has been about K. K. Downing's departure, and even if his replacement Richie Faulkner does a good job, he just does not have the same connection to Tipton that Downing had. But still, the guitarists does a swell job in this album despite a very poor production where the guitars sounds flat and dull. Then there is also the fact that The Metal God's voice is not what it used to be, which is clearly evident on the higher notes, but remember that Rob Halford is 63 years old, and to still pack quite a punch in the voice at that age is surely impressive.

Most of the songs on "Redeemer of Souls" are pretty decent, but they can easily be compared to several classic Judas tunes, like the opener "Dragonaut" sounds like "Leather Rebel" and the title track is a lot like "Judas Rising". So there is no song in this album that can really match the band's best work, but that does not bother me since it is still a good quality of music in here. My current favourite is "Halls of Valhalla" that slams down with a grand sound, a catchy chorus and a Rob Halford that gives his all in the song. Probably the best song they have made since Rob's return to the band.

But if this song does not get you going, there are plenty of other songs to chose from. "Redeemer of Souls" contain 13 songs, and another 5 if you have the deluxe edition at your disposal, which makes this a very meaty Priest album (not as meaty as "Nostradamus" though, thank god). Some other highlights in this album is the passionate "Sword of Damocles", the epic and strong "Battle Cry" and the beautiful rock ballad "Beginning of The End". However, since there are so many songs in this record there are bound to be some fillers in there, like the boring "March of The Damned", the sluggish "Crossfire" and all of the bonus songs. Fortunately, there is enough quality in this album to get past these fillers.

I am glad that Judas Priest's discography did not end with "Nostradamus" since it didn't feel like it had the soul of the band. "Redeemer of Souls" has this soul, although it is slightly damaged thanks to a bad production and aging members. But no matter what, this is pure heavy metal, and if this happen to be the last we will ever hear from the band, then I think this is a worthy ending for one of the most inspirational heavy metal bands of all time. Thank you Judas Priest for giving us over 4 decades of great metal music.

Songs worthy of recognition: Halls of Valhalla, Redeemer of Souls, Sword of Damocles, Battle Cry

Rating: 7,5/10 Metalizers

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