Thursday, March 8, 2018

Judas Priest : "Fire Power"

Ok...the original review got deleted when I was cutting and pasting for a re-write for another blog, so this is make take on it after many morel listens. The first concern going into any Priest album is how is Rob's voice going to hold up, We might be able to live with out KK, but as the Ripper Owens years proved, his voice is one of the defining traits of this band. The first two songs are pretty much dialed in versions of their former arena rock classics.Think closer to "Defenders of the Faith" which was the band trying to replicate the massive success of "Screaming For Vengeance" . It is truer to form for the band than "Redeemer of Souls". It has the up tempo aggression that influenced the thrash bands that would follow. "Lightning Strike" has more of a gallop than the opener. The over dubbed vocal layers that show Halfords upper range, are pretty convincing.

You can hear echoes of "You've Got Another Thing Coming" in "Evil Never Dies", yet it doesn't feel like they are just recycling their past. For a band like these guys there is the juggling act not wavering from decades of fans expect yet keeping it fresh, the chorus to this song does it fairly well and creates a timeless blend of metal. "Never the Heroes" and other points on this album feel like they are blending the song writing of "Turbo" marrying it to the fire of "Pain-Killer". If you never acquired the stomach for their big fist pumping 80s choruses, then there are moments that won't sit with you either. Though if that is the case why are you even reading a review of  Judas Priest album?  They continue to adhere to this formula on "Necormancer" and why not since it seems to work. The first time I really hear them breaking from this is on the powerful drive of "Children of the Sun" that recalls Rob's days in Fight until the chorus.

It's midway into the album that things really begin to feel invigorated. That is not to say the first act is flawed, it's just uncanny how familiar it is. There are some interesting melodic touches to "Rising From Ruins". They take many of the elements I normally don't like about power-metal and make it work. "Flame Thrower" might be an ode to a bouncer at a leather bar. Lyrically the album is devoid of homo-erotic metaphor that in retrospect haunted their earlier work. Not that I ever minded it as it was always a part of the band's identity and thus became ingrained in metal culture. It's hard not to bang your head to "Spectre" as normally the rule around here is "cool riffs alone do not a good song make", but these guys wrote the book on cool riffs so now how to make them work. While I might still be reluctant to catch their live show with neither of the original guitarists currently on board, I think this album even with the luke warm power ballad  that closes the album is still a powerful statement about the band so I'll give it a 9.

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