Sunday, September 21, 2014

Welcome To My World Of Steel

Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls

Epic Records – 2014

Muthas, the Priest is back! It’s been six long years since the disappointing, turgid mess that was Nostradamus.  In the interim founding member K.K. Downing retired and was replaced by Richie Faulkner. With the loss of one third of the Halford/Tipton/Downing triumvirate would it be possible for Redeemer of Souls to live up to the rest of the Judas Priest catalog?  Believe it or not, it actually does.  This is a damn fine return to form for the band that personifies Heavy Metal. 

Sadly, it takes several listens to get into Redeemer of Souls because of a couple of a few odd choices that the band has made.  Firstly, the mix on this album is garbage.  The guitars are buried in the mix and Halford’s vocals are pushed way up front.  This robs many of the cuts of power and makes them a bit inaccessible upon the first few listens.  Secondly, the sequencing of the album is poor because the first several tracks are nowhere near the best and lack the immediate hooky-ness that can really kick-start an album.  A remix and a re-sequencing would do wonders for Redeemer of Souls. Finally, this is a very long album with the standard version having 13 tracks and the deluxe edition featuring a bonus disc with an additional five songs.  Eighteen tracks is essentially two albums worth of material and is a huge amount of music to digest in a single sitting.

Those criticisms aside, this is probably the best album Priest has released since Painkiller.  Once you get past the okay “Dragonaught” and the ho-hum title track, the album really kicks into gear with “Halls of Valhalla” which should have been the album opener and first single.  “Sword of Damocles,” ”Battle Cry,” and “Metalizer,” are all excellent, speedy cuts. “March of the Damned” is the second single while having a modern sound is a total earworm.  I defy anyone not to get into the amazing riff that is all over this track. “Hell & Back” sounds like it could have been from 1978 and “Cold Blooded” could have been on Screaming For VengeanceThis album is packed with quality songs throughout. Unfortunately, the album ends with the “Beginning of the End” which is a crap ballad and it should have been left off the album.

The bonus disc features five tracks, four of which are equal to, or better than, the material on the standard album. “Snakebite” is a catchy, sassy, commercial track that recalls the British Steel era.  “Tears of Blood” is a fantastic, emotional song that builds to a great ending, and is the best track of all of the eighteen cuts!  This should have been the centerpiece of the standard album.  “Creatures” is a classic Priest “monster” song like “Nightcrawler” and is damn good.  “Bring It On” is decent and sounds like it was written in the late 70s/early 80s.  Unfortunately, “Never Forget” ends the bonus disc - it’s a horrid, treacly ballad.  Vomitous.

The Bottom Line:

The mighty Judas Priest has cranked out an excellent album that is overstuffed with metallic goodness.  The Deluxe Edition is worth the coin, and will provide you with hours of quality listens.  So get out there and get it if you haven’t already. 
As always, MAKE MINE METAL! 

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