Judas Priest have released their first album in four years and it’s appropriately titled Firepower. I’m going to call it right here. This is their best album since Painkiller, it’s that rip roaring, British Steel great.
Why is that great? Production duties are shared by Tom Allom, who produced most of Priest’s classic albums and Andy Sneap; a guy whose back catalogue reads like a who’s who of Metal including Machine Head, Killswitch Engage, Arch Enemy, Soulfly and Bullet For My Valentine. Combine that classic Priest influence with a modern metal producing genius and you get Firepower. We also have the small matter of Judas Priest themselves.
The opening title track itself starts with the driving riffs of Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner backed by incessant pounding of drums of Scott Travis. Vocalist Rob Halford hasn’t sounded this good in quite some time and what’s a Priest song without some dualling guitars?
On Evil Never Dies the music takes on a more sinister feel, much like the classic The Ripper song. The space between the guitars is wonderfully recorded. Allowing each to be part of the battering ram that is the song, while being free to stand out, especially the decidedly wicked solo.
Never The Heroes slows the pace of the album down for a breather while still brutally heavy leading into Necromancer, where the bass work of Ian Hill really comes to fore. Is it to soon to call this song an head banging Judas Priest anthem?
Richie Faulkner’s songwriting influence is all over this album, it finally feels like he is a complete member of the band. That’s not to say that it doesn’t sound like Priest, a listen to Children Of The Sun will dispel that notion straight away. Faulkner has taken charge of song-writing and his lead guitar work reflects this perfectly.
A complete change of pace appears for Guardians, a epic piano interlude, to give the listener a breather before Rising From The Ruins appears, blowing the hair of your head.
The second half of the album doesn’t let up, with the groovy Spectre, the vocally superb Traitors Gate and the throwback feel of No Surrender all leading us to an epic climax.
Just when you didn’t think an album could get better, Priest unleashes Lone Wolf, a groove driven, bass heavy masterpiece reminiscent of Metallica’s Sad But True.
The final fling is the ballad Sea Of Red, with acoustic beginnings that give way to the whole range of Rob Halford’s vocals; reminding us why he is truly The Metal God. It’s a delight to hear a band flex their muscles once again.
So in short, as I mentioned it’s their best album since Painkiller, from start to finish. Its a sonic orgasm of metal, a emotional and triumphant return in difficult circumstances for one of our metals founding fathers. It’s truly an arsenal of Firepower ready and loaded for your listening pleasure.
Review by Iain McCallum