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Judas Priest: Redeemer of Souls

The Metal Gods have returned!

Yes, believe it folks. After the bloated disappointment that was Nostradamus, the mighty Judas Priest have returned with their best album in many years, the triumphant return to form titled Redeemer of Souls. Since the last time we've seen the band, founding guitarist K.K. Downing retired and has since been replaced by the very capable Richie Faulkner, who has seemingly injected a jolt of energy into the veteran act and steered them into making their strongest platter of classic heavy metal since Painkiller.

While Nostradamus saw the Priest taking a stab at a monolithic, prog-inflected concept album, here on Redeemer of Souls they basically have created a very 'Judas Priest' sounding record that pulls together all the styles from throughout their long career. Some of the elements that have always made up their best material include memorable, heavy riffs, blazing lead guitar solos, anthem soaked choruses, and of course the soaring vocals of Rob Halford driving it all, and all these and more are included throughout this album. Kick off track "Dragonaught" is a thumping power metal tune chock full of some tasty riffing from Faulkner & Glenn Tipton, while the title track contains a killer chorus to go along with more sizzling riffs. Two ultra memorable heavy metal songs to start off the album sets the stage, and it gets even better from there.

"Halls of Valhalla" is a sure fire bet to become a classic song in the Priest cannon, and should easily slide right into the live setlist. With a shrieking Halford delivering some of his trademark screams, piledriving rhythms courtesty of Ian Hill & Scott Travis, and some perfectly delicious, headbanging riffs, this is a dark, powerful number that will take fans back to the bands classic late '70s material. Halford even throws in a brief death metal styled growl, and follows it up with a spine chilling scream ala "Victim of Changes", surrounded by plenty of wailing guitar solos. The excellent "Sword of Damocles" follows, another killer tune with one hell of a riff and a super catchy, modern power metal styled chorus. Just four songs in, and this new album is already leagues more rewarding to the listener than two full discs of Nostradamus. "March of the Damned" takes you back to the early '80s, a song that could have easily come off of Screaming for Vengeance or Defenders of the Faith, and I dare you to stop your fist from thrusting into the air with the British Steel era sounding "Down in Flames". The band slows things down a bit with the moody, somewhat doomy "Hell & Back", before settling into some fine twin guitar harmonies on the mid paced heavy rocker "Cold Blooded", another tune with some killer riffs delivered by Tipton & Faulkner. "Metalizer" delivers raging power metal that we haven't seen since the Painkiller album, as furious riffs & rhythms fire away with Halford screaming his venom over the top.

You'll go all the way back to the bluesy metal days of Rocka-Rolla with the twisting, turning "Crossfire", one of the sleeper tracks on Redeemer of Souls, as Tipton & Faulkner unleash some tasty, distorted blues riffs, scorching Hendrix/Trower/Marino inspired solos, and allow plenty of room for Halford to wail. A chilling song to say the least.The majestic "Secrets of the Dead" follows, a darker piece that sort of pays homage to the classic "Beyond the Realms of Death", and the band then launch into the power metal cruncher "Battle Cry", a song that seems to be saying 'how do you like this, Primal Fear?' to the German power metal act who have been perfecting Priest styled power metal for years. The album ends with the melancholy "Beginning of the End", easily the mellowest track on Redeemer of Souls, again reminding of the very early days of the band, with a haunting Halford vocal and alluring guitar textures from Tipton & Faulkner.

For a few extra bucks, pick up the Deluxe Edition, which contains a second disc with 5 bonus songs. "Snakebite" is a raunchy '80s styled Priest number with a catchy chorus, and "Tears of Blood" could have easily been a leftover from the Screaming for Vengeance album, complete with powerful vocals and loads of killer riffs. You'll love the snaking, creeping riff of the undulating "Creatures", Halford sounding all menacing as he delivers the lyrics of the creatures of the night, while "Bring It On" is a more straightforward, Point of Entry styled hard rocker with a catchy chorus.The final tune "Never Forget" is probably the least successful, and most puzzling tune in the entire set, a poppy rock ballad that might have sounded cool on a Queen album, but almost sounds out of place here, despite a ripping Faulkner guitar solo and strong vocal from Halford. Lyrically, it seems to be telling the story of the bands relationship with their fans, and where that's at at this point in their career. "We'll play on till the end, It's not over, not over my friends, We are together tonight, Reunited for all our lives, And we thank you for it all, We will never forget." A good enough song, again, very different from the rest of the album, but perhaps a fitting last tune on this very excellent deluxe edition.

With incredible artwork courtesy of Mark Wilkinson (I mean, it's really eye popping, but then again, he's always delivered some great stuff), Redeemer of Souls looks like a killer heavy metal album, and the music more than delivers. This is easily the comeback of the year, and shows that Judas Priest might have taken a few steps back in recent years, but here in 2014 they are super charged up and delivering some of their best material in many years. Along with the recent Uriah Heep, here's another absolute winner from one of the legends of heavy music.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1) Dragonaught
2) Redeemer of Souls
3) Halls of Valhalla
4) Sword of Damocles
5) March of the Damned
6) Down in Flames
7) Hell & Back
8) Cold Blooded
9) Metalizer
10) Crossfire
11) Secrets of the Dead
12) Battle Cry
13) Beginning of the End
Deluxe Edition Bonus Disc
1) Snakebite
2) Tears of Blood
3) Creatures
4) Bring It On
5) Never Forget

Added: July 12th 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2371
Language: english

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