Archive for Judas Priest

Album Review – Judas Priest “Redeemer of Souls” 2014

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , , , , , on July 21, 2014 by Lightning Slim

JudasPriestRedeemerSouls  When you’ve been in the business as long as Judas Priest, you have an opportunity to reflect upon and work with your longest-standing musical influence: yourselves. And so it is that Redeemer of Souls looks back and well as forward, ending up sounding Judas-Priesty as all hell, and all the more enjoyable for it. The overall feel is the same as what we’ve come to expect post-Painkiller, but there are also bluesy bar-rock riffs on the record that would be at home on Point of Entry, Killing Machine or even British Steel. It’s self-homage without resorting to self-plagiarism (one notable exception is the title track, which is essentially a reboot of “Hell Patrol”).

New guy Richie Faulkner admirably fills the K.K. Downing-shaped hole in the wall, matching Glenn Tipton’s dignified grace and power on the trade-off solos. He’s also heavily involved in the songwriting, which may turn out to be a secret weapon for the band. Having grown up outside the Priest bubble, he’s been listening to the competition. To wit, there are Maidenish touches here and there, especially on “Sword of Damocles”, which is a straight-up Brave New World-era Iron Maiden song that JP appropriate with aplomb.

One elephant in the room: the time of the Rob Halford shriek would appear to be over. We all knew this day would come. Halford does access his falsetto, but it’s during quieter moments, and when he does rage out it’s carefully and gently cradled by the mix and quickly spirited away as if to say “Nothing to see here; move on”. Considering he still has one of the most dynamic ranges around, and his midrange is passionate and full of power, it would be churlish to ask for more.

Be at ease, metalheads. It’s twenty-freaking-fourteen, Mark Wilkinson has yet to tire of painting messianic figures aflame under violet skies, and Judas Priest have gone back to the well to draw forth an album which will be the envy of bands half their age. 8.5 out of 10

Classic Album Review – Judas Priest “Point of Entry” 1981

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 20, 2013 by Lightning Slim

220px-JudaspriestpointofentryUSA  Poor old Point of Entry. This oft-overlooked and even more often maligned record gets a hard time for being the most un-metal of Priest’s efforts since Rocka Rolla. To be sure, the entirety of the album’s second half is filled with the Thin Lizzy style boogie rock that nobody wanted the band to prove they could still play.

But there’s so much more to the story. The opening track “Heading out to the Highway” has become a staple on both classic rock radio and the concert stage, and deservedly so. “Desert Plains”, while a bit of a sleeper, showcases the album’s excellent drum production, which often elevates the material. And let’s not forget “Solar Angels”, a wall of  Hawkwind-approved pedal-effect psychedelic riffage that really displays the good side of the experimentation that was happening in the studio at the time.

I will concede that “Don’t Go” is a strange single choice, and that “Turning Circles” is a piece of pure pop idiocy (which still manages to get airplay in my  home more often than I’d care to admit).

However, before we close the book on Point of Entry we must mention “Hot Rockin'”. Consider the video:

Come, on, people! It’s got cutty vests, air guitar and flames! It’s fast, ballsy and a little bit gay. Sounds like metal to me.

Maybe folks Stateside would have warmed to the album more if they hadn’t tampered with the original Brit cover:

 220px-Judas_priest_-_point_of_entry_a  Better, ain’t it? A perfect metaphor for the record itself, wrongly perceived and better than it appears.  7 out of 10

More Tickets from the Past

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2013 by Lightning Slim

Hi all. More tickets to show off – of particular interest this time is an old stub from Operation Rock & Roll from 1991. That’s the Toronto show where Rob Halford beaned himself riding out on the Hog during “Hell Bent For Leather” and decided after the show to leave Priest. Teenaged me almost lost his mind!

Concert Tix 2

Box Set Review – Judas Priest “The Remasters Collector Box” 2001

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , , on February 1, 2012 by Lightning Slim

  What: The majority of JP’s output with Columbia Records. The set includes Sin After Sin, Stained Class, Killing Machine and Unleashed in the East. There’s room in the builder-box for everything up to Painkiller, so twelve releases in all. This review assumes you went out and filled up the slots, and will therefore discuss the Remasters as a whole.

   Selection: The albums are all complete and then some, so you’re getting about 25 years of Priest. There are 26 bonus tracks spread around the discs as well. Only untangling the legal issues of including the first two albums would have been better. 9 out of 10

Packaging: The cardboard crate looks like a roadcase, and the albums are put into it in regular jewel cases. When it’s full they all have a nice piece of coordinated spine art. There’s a small booklet with a set overview, but most details are in the individual cases. No feelies or extra kibble included, but that could be a good thing if you want to place it on your regular CD shelf. 7 out of 10

Sonic Manipulation: Lots, and contentious at that. Your standard noise-reduction and volume boost have been applied across the board, although not necessarily evenly. Some older material, such as Sin After Sin, benefits from a little boost. The rawness of Screaming For Vengeance suffers a bit from compression, and Painkiller moves a touch further down the road of sonic “modernity” towards Death Magnetic, but I think accusations of catalogue-wide butchery are a bit extreme. If you’re buying to keep this on a shelf most of the time, or rip it into your Ipod or car, you won’t care. Serious audiophiles will find something to hate, although they may not always agree on what. Considering the personalities of each record and mastering towards that would have helped. 6 out of 10

Rarities/Extras: The nine bonus studio tracks are not much on their own, although many of them are obvious dry runs for songs established later. If this is the pride of the vault, then Priest are economical writers indeed. The seventeen live tracks are nice, if somewhat scattered chronologically in the set (you can see later-era material clumsily glued to early records). The extra songs attached to the two live albums come off best, as they are from the same tour recordings and basically turn Unleashed and Priest Live into expanded editions. Each release has some recording notes and anecdotes from the band, with lots of photos from over the years. 7 out of 10

Overall: An okay mixture of coffee-table brag rights and knockabout playability. If you do not have a Judas Priest discography at your disposal, or if, like my previous set, it consists of small plastic boxes with “Chromium Dioxide” proudly displayed on the side, this may be an elegant solution if the price is right. Be sure to inquire as to whether you’re being offered a full builder-box or just the 4/12 starter set. 7 out of 10

Album Review – Machine Head “Unto the Locust” 2011

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , , , on October 27, 2011 by Lightning Slim

  It’s fitting that Unto the Locust contains a spot-on cover of Judas Priest’s “The Sentinel”, because this album serves as Machine Head’s version of Defenders of the Faith. Just as The Blackening emulated the trajectory of Screaming for Vengeance, this new album helps complete the duo. Both Priest and Machine Head had taken some knocks for a softer experimental period, and in response produced comeback records seething with primal fury. The follow-ups to those back-to-form records, while lacking the element of pouncing ambush, still fit into the same groove while exuding confidence, polish and a take-charge, stadium-sized attitude. Blackened Vengeance screams “Take that!”, while Defender of the Locust growls “Watch this.”   

I’ve always been leery of albums containing only long songs, as they can be demanding for the listener and provide no easily grasped Point of Entry*. Rob Flynn and company lay this concern to rest, just as they did on The Blackening. They are not only capable of putting together a 60-second hook that draws the listener into each track, they can chain together seven of those hooks per song and only afterward do you realize that you’ve been fed one epic track in delicious bite-sized pieces. 

Machine Head are in the songwriting sweet spot of their career; Unto the Locust is a reward for the faithful and a reason for the curious to take note. Be sure to grab the deluxe version containing the aforementioned “Sentinel” cover as well as a chilling version of “Witch Hunt” that traces a direct line from Rush to Killing Joke. Flynn is at last producing material commensurate with his standing as a leader in the American metal community. 8 out of 10


*See what I did there?

Album Review – Judas Priest “A Touch of Evil – Live” 2009

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , on August 9, 2010 by Lightning Slim

  Throwing together a nice mixture of post-reunion tracks and old chestnuts in a bare-bones package, A Touch of Evil Live works exactly as advertised. Fun new songs like “Hellrider” and “Prophecy” contain the enthusiasm and juice of a band happy to be doing new material, but it’s also a nice surprise to hear old-school scorcher “Riding on the Wind” peeled off like it ain’t no thing. Brutal ballad “Beyond the Realms of Death” gets rare airtime here, and “Dissident Aggressor” shows old dogs with still-sharp teeth (this performance rightfully won them the 2010 Metal Grammy). 

There’s one mis-step in a tired-sounding attempt at “Painkiller”, a song that deserves better than a less-than-lethal run-through. Even Metal Gods can have an off-day, but they shouldn’t be captured for posterity. Not the end of the world – if you like live albums this one’s a good choice. 7 out of 10

Deals and Steals: Rarities Old and New

Posted in Deals & Steals with tags , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2010 by Lightning Slim

 Long-awaited stuff in the old mailbox this time around. All prices $US. Without further ado:

Mighty Force – Hypnovel $1.31. Interesting EBM from early 90’s PWEI disciples.

Numb – Language of Silence $3.49. There’s an album after Blood Meridian? I didn’t know either. 

Judas Priest  – Touch of Evil: Live $4.40. Good material from the 2005-2008 reunion tours.   

Arch Enemy – The Root of All Evil $6.29. Early hits redux avec Angela.        

Peaches – I Feel Cream $6.29. Yeah, I like Peaches. Deal with it.

Junkie XL – Today $2.29 and Booming Back at You $3.97. My favourite big beat artist waxes alt-rock and then returns to his roots.

Wesley Willis – Rock ‘N’ Roll Will Never Die $3.41. If you don’t like Wesley you have no soul.

And now the big finds of the batch: 

  The Schoolyard Heroes – The Funeral Sciences $5.59. Hard to find, and no one cares but me. There’s a forthcoming article about why I love this horror/opera/punk band so much.

Doubting Thomas – Infidel $5.59. Also hard to find, but well worth it. Pre-Download project from the Skinny Puppy camp.

Lucky thirteen bucks shipping this time – I gotta start reviewing some of the things I’m bringing in!

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