Judas Priest - Firepower

(CD, Sony Music, 2018)

Seeing a new album from the mighty JUDAS PRIEST is a huge deal, especially if you add the significant lineup changes that for many are enough to be(come) show-stoppers. Of course, and it is a hard pill to swallow seeing PRIEST without the most characteristic guitar-duo in the entire Metal scene, and then, to hear the news about Tipton’s health... On the other hand, our Metal idols are as human as we are, so such things are (sadly) part of life, and how to musically approach one of your favorite bands should be an entirely different game. A huge plus in the case of PRIEST is the presence of Rob Halford, aka Metal God, whose voice does not give a damn about age and it is one of the most powerful weapons on PRIEST’s “Firepower” (pun intended).

The fat guitar sound of the album’s title track and that scream coming from behind are the only things you need to get the hair at the back of your neck to stand up. Yeah, the Metal God is a constant when it comes to JUDAS PRIEST and is more than enough to get Metal rushing through your veins. The track itself carries all the characteristics of a PRIEST album opener with some similarities to “Painkiller”, especially in the double bass drum. The vocal melodies during the bridge prep the way for the chorus where Rob is hitting the high-octaves with his always-impressive power. Leaving aside the excitement from hearing these mighty vocals on a new recording, this song is nothing more than a well-written track that hits all the right spots; catchy chorus, chant-along riffs and hard-hitting drums. “Lightning Strike” is more aggressive and I guess closer to the “Painkiller” sound, especially in the way Rob is attacking his screams. Speaking of aggression, “Necromancer” stands out during the first half of “Firepower” and I think the main reason for this, is the new stuff PRIEST have thrown in it; the riffs are not the typical ones for the British band and I will draw your attention to the rhythm parts even during the guitar solo. Going off script and doing things that this band has not done in the past, may be frown upon by some old-schoolers, but for me, this is definitely a plus. You see, when a band is recycling itself equals to a song-writing death and fortunately, this is not the case. Yeah, check the BLACK SABBATH-esque groove of “Children Of The Sun” and let me know if you remember PRIEST sounding like this in the past, and you’ll get my point. By the way, this is a killer song and I hope it will make it to the band’s setlist pushing away some of the ‘obvious’ (fast) selections. And be ready to get massive shivers down your spine during the slower part just before the guitar solo.

One of the songs that got stuck after getting over the initial excitement having a new JUDAS PRIEST LP spinning is “Traitors Gate”. The “Battle Hymn”-sounding (the MANOWAR song) clean guitar arpeggios give the perfect assist to the distortion as the song explodes with a massive bass and drum sound. Once again, the Metal God uses his entire arsenal changing singing-pitch like it’s the easiest thing to do. On top of this, there is an epic atmosphere and an absolutely killer riff which stands one step forward in the mix. Check how this riff bleeds into the guitar solo with the dramatic sounds of bells tolling and you’ll get why this song stands one click above the rest. Even though “Sea Of Red” is the album-closer, it's the perfect instance to appreciate the versatility of one of the best voices in Metal. The dramatic tones in this power-ballad (it gets heavier in the last half) and emotions Halford is putting in his performance is more Metal than any other fast-paced headbanger - enough said...

Of course, it is with some sadness to watch JUDAS PRIEST without the lineup that we grew up with, but at the same time a band should always look ahead and not gather mold by sitting (and living) on the past. “Firepower” will draw new metalheads towards JUDAS PRIEST with a sound that has one foot on the past and one stepping on the future. What I am saying is that this album will be good to the ears of the old-schoolers and also, to the new metalheads who some of them may have never seen this band onstage. And that, my friends, is more than good in my book.

PS: Don't you love saying "the PRIEST is back!"?





01. Firepower
02. Lightning Strike
03. Evil Never Dies
04. Never The Heroes
05. Necromancer
06. Children Of The Sun
07. Guardians
08. Rising From Ruins
09. Flame Thrower
10. Spectre
11. Traitors Gate
12. No Surrender
13. Lone Wolf
14. Sea Of Red


Ian Hill - Bass
Rob Halford - Vocals
Glenn Tipton - Guitar
Scott Travis - Drums
Richie Faulkner - Guitar