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KK’s Priest: Sermons Of The Sinner

Having read an excellent recent interview with KK Downing in Fireworks Rock & Metal magazine, it would appear that his departure from Judas Priest can be attributed to a hasty decision based round management and disagreements over leadership. KK always really intended to return it would seem and tried to mend burnt bridges but to no avail. So too, from just having finished Rob Halford’s autobiography Confess, would it seem that his lengthy time away from the band was down to poor communications and hasty decisions. Guys, it’s good to talk…

Anyway, with discourse definitely not on the agenda, we now don’t just have Judas Priest, we also have KK’s Priest with not just the ex-Judas guitar master himself, but with the man who replaced Mr Halford in those ranks for two albums and seven or so years, Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens. Previous Priest drummer Les Binks was also intended to be a part of this new set-up but with injury at least temporarily sidelining him, Cage drummer Sean Elg now takes on that role, with Voodoo Six bassist (and Iron Maiden live sound master) Tony Newton and guitarist AJ Mills completing the line-up.

Now, I’ve seen a lot of comment lamenting that Sermons Of The Sinner doesn’t hold all that many surprises. However, you have to remember that this isn’t a ‘solo’ album from KK where he’s looking to explore other musical avenues. No, this is the legendary guitarist and song writer’s main musical outlet now and as such should it be any surprise that it sounds like the band that he helped steer for over four decades? Or at least the version that was fronted by Ripper Owens?

And with that in mind, you really have to say that KK’s Priest knew what their mandate was and pretty much hit that particular nail on the head. Thick riffs, powering drums, screaming vocals and lots of talk of ‘metal’, I mean what could be more Priest than that? Ten songs confirm it as such , or at least nine and a pointless introduction, with the guitar pairing shining throughout as they propel the title track with real force and fury. “Hellfire Thunderbolt” also strikes the bull’s eye, Elg and Newton forming a strong backbone from which Downing and Mills take no issue firing off gigantic riffs and scintillating solos. Solid though he is, I could personally do with a little less shrieking from Ripper throughout, with this tendency obviously seen as aping what Halford does for Priest, but for me the latter uses this aspect to add colour and contrast, whereas here, on too many occasions it’s seen as the focal point of the songs. Impressive though they are, these manic outbursts prove more of a distraction than they do the vocal icing on this metallic cake.

Where too things stumble is in the lyric department. In all honesty, this aspect can often be a secondary afterthought to me and Judas Priest can be just as guilty, but the lack of irony in tracks such as “Brothers Of The Road”, “Metal Through And Through” and “Wild And Free” proves something of a distraction when delivered by guys of an age who should know better, or who at least aren’t wearing loincloths. That said, the latter provides one of Ripper’s most authoritative vocals on the whole album and dynamically the track proves a really interesting step away from the singularly paced cuts, even if that pace does vary from track to track.

In the cold light of day, Sermons Of The Sinner is probably better than I feared it might be, but not quite as good as I hoped for. The songwriting is tight, if reasonably safe and the performances from all concerned hit the spot, with a few minor niggles. Supposedly things are already well underway for the second instalment and I for one am looking forward to it. As opening gambits go this is good but hopefully we’ll look back and view it more as a starting point than this band’s final destination.

Track Listing
1. Incarnation
2. Hellfire Thunderbolt
3. Sermons Of The Sinner
4. Sacerdote Y Diablo
5. Raise Your Fists
6. Brothers Of The Road
7. Metal Through And Through
8. Wild And Free
9. Hail For The Priest
10. Return Of The Sentinel

Added: October 24th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: KK's Priest online
Hits: 798
Language: english

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KK’s Priest: Sermons Of The Sinner
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2021-10-24 15:41:13
My Score:

Judas Priest founder K.K. Downing returns from retirement with his new band KK's Priest and their debut album Sermons of the Sinner, a fun heavy metal affair that ticks most of the boxes of what we'd expect from this legendary guitarist. Along for the ride is former Priest vocalist Tim 'Ripper' Owens, who perhaps might have finally found a band to stick around with for more than the 'cup of coffee' he seems to stay for with the endless amount of groups and projects he's hooked up with over the last decade or so. Tony Newton (bass), A.J. Mills (guitar), and Sean Elg (drums) round out the line-up, though classic era Priest drummer Les Binks was in the original incarnation of the band but had to drop out of the record due to illness. His participation going forward is questionable at the moment, but hopefully he is able and willing. As for Sermons of the Sinner, it's a very 'Judas Priest' sounding affair as can be expected, the band going for a 'Screaming for Vengeance-meets-Painkiller-meets-Juggulator' style that's fast, frantic and contains all the heavy metal trappings, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, the lyrics are often pretty juvenile, and Ripper at times dips into a bit too much over the top screaming, but there's no denying that many of these songs are just fun metal 'rippers' just like we knew they would be, such as "Brothers of the Road", "Wild and Free", "Hail for the Priest", and "Return of the Sentinel". Yes, I just named the whole back half of the album, but the truth is, this CD gets better as you make your way through the track list, though "Sermon of the Sinner" and "Hellfire Thunderbolt" are also pretty cracking songs as well. Plenty of blazing solos and riffs to be found from the guitar duo, and overall it's a good sounding metal album here in 2021. While it won't re-invent the heavy metal wheel, Sermons of the Sinner is stronger than I thought it would be, though it falls short of being an all-out classic. I've struggled with giving this a 3.4 or 4 stars...I'm going to stick with 3.5 here, but it's a strong 3.5. My guess is the next one will be even better.

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