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Judas Priest: Firepower

Since Judas Priest's reunion with Rob Halford back in 2003, the band have released a quartet of notable albums that have garnered plenty of interest from their still rabid fanbase. While 2008's Nostradamus is by far the weakest of the bunch, 2005's Angel of Retribution and 2014's Redeemer of Souls have stood as very solid releases in their long and illustrious heavy metal repertoire, but it's their latest release Firepower that hints at their classic '80s material, as well as their rampaging 1990 gem Painkiller. Despite the announcement that longtime guitarist Glenn Tipton will retire from live performances due to a ten year battle with Parkinson's disease, he's here alongside recent addition Richie Faulkner, who made his initial statement on the Redeemer of Souls release, replacing the departing founder KK Downing, and the duo are once again in fine form unleashing a torrent of heavy riffing and blistering solos. Vocalist Halford is once again in peak form, and the rhythm team of bassist Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis as always provide expert bottom end.

With production courtesy of Tom Allom & Andy Sneap, Firepower is easily one of the best sounding Judas Priest albums since Painkiller. The inclusion of Sneap here has done wonders for the guitar tones on the album, and Halford hasn't soared this high since that 1990 classic. Of course, it's all about the songs, and Firepower contains a wealth of sensational heavy metal gems. The title track and "Lightning Strikes" kick off the album in fine fashion, Halford shrieking to the heavens over a never ending torrent of metallic, crushing, yet catchy riffs and blazing solos. "Evil Never Dies" rages as well, complete with a snarling Halford vocal, and the more mid-paced "Never the Heroes" is the albums first '80s styled fist pumping anthem. "Necromancer" is just plain nasty, trademark, vintage Judas Priest, fueled by Travis' energetic drumming, kick ass riffs, and a top of his game Halford...easily a tune that would have slotted in just fine on Painkiller, Screaming for Vengeance, or Defenders of the Faith.

"Children of the Sun" is one of a few slower, doom laden tracks here, the riffs spectacular in their heaviness, and a great chorus punctuated by Halford's venom, with the mid section of the song atmospheric and reminding of the days of Sad Wings of Destiny. "Rising From the Ruins", "Spectre", and especially "Lone Wolf" see the band lurch in with some slower, doom styled arrangements, which work well alongside the more uptempo tracks and add some serious variety here. "Traitors Gate" gallops along in classic European power metal fashion, again highlighted by Halford's mercurial vocal skills, and "Sea of Red" closes out the album in somber, moody fashion, perhaps the least successful song on the album (save for the brief instrumental "Guardians") but still a decent enough song with some great vocals and lead guitar solos.

You can easily see Firepower sitting high on top of many 2018 Best Album of the Year lists come the end of the year, much like Redeemer of Souls not that long ago, but Judas Priest deserve all the accolades for delivering an album of this magnitude and high quality so late in their career. Will this be the grand finale, or do the mighty Priest have more in store for us? Only time will tell, but if this happens to be it, what better way to go out than on top!

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing 1. "Firepower" 3:27
2. "Lightning Strike" 3:29
3. "Evil Never Dies" 4:23
4. "Never the Heroes" 4:23
5. "Necromancer" 3:33
6. "Children of the Sun" 4:00
7. "Guardians" (Instrumental) 1:06
8. "Rising from Ruins" 5:23
9. "Flame Thrower" 4:34
10. "Spectre" 4:25
11. "Traitors Gate" 5:43
12. "No Surrender" 2:54
13. "Lone Wolf" 5:09
14. "Sea of Red" 5:51

Added: March 11th 2018
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1873
Language: english

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