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!

Box Set Review – Fight “Into the Pit” 2008

Posted in Album Reviews, Sevens to Nines with tags , , , , , , on April 19, 2010 by Lightning Slim

What: Four-disc set containing all of Fight’s output.

Selection: No problem for completists. Both studio records are here in their entirety, along with the Mutations EP and a live DVD. An easy feat for a short-lived band. 9 out of 10

Packaging: Nothing to write home about. DVD digipak with a large lyric booklet. Good art by Marc Sasso throughout. 6 out of 10

Sonic Manipulation: Now here’s a conundrum. A typical bottom-heavy revamp by Roy Z works wonders for A Small Deadly Space, a record which I didn’t like before but now listen to regularly. The same treatment does not work for War of Words, which now seems slower, less thrashy and thinner through the middle where room has been cleared for Halford’s vocals. We know the man can sing, but back in the day it was kind of nice to hear him do a noisy thrash record. 7 out of 10

Rarities/Extras: None to speak of. There are a couple of commercials and tour-diary style videos of backstage and day-off shenanigans. 2 out of 10

Overall: An economical and complete look at Halford’s period in the American wilderness. Some interviews on the DVD or some artist-penned bio might have shed more light on the implications and lasting effect of Fight on his solo and Priest careers. 7.5 out of 10

Decade Review: Ten Bands that Rocked the 2000’s

Posted in Album Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2010 by Lightning Slim

Decade Review: Ten Bands that Rocked the 2000’s 

This isn’t a best-of, more of a reflection on who had a good decade in my musical universe. Some artists are old masters making a comeback, some are newer bands that hit right around the Millennium, and some are just hard-working dudes who cranked out a good ten years’ worth of tunes without having any kind of meltdown. 

  1. Amon Amarth – With every record, they just keep getting better and better. Not too shabby, especially when they keep banging them out every 20 months or so like clockwork. While the past few years have been their time to shine, AA’s pagan thunder has people excited to see what’s next.
  2. Ministry – After starting the decade in rehab and stumbling out of the gate with Animositisomina, Al Jourgensen roared back into focus with his “Dubya Trilogy”. Ministry’s best moments have always been collaborative, and these supposedly final slabs of finger-pointing are fortified with the likes of Tommy Victor, Burton Bell and Paul Raven (RIP). If he really is done this time, the Alien has capped off his career with head held high. 
  3. Iron Maiden – In early 2000 I received a promotional postcard with a picture of Eddie on one side and one sentence on the other: “Bruce is Back.” Exciting, but that wasn’t the whole story, as Dickinson brought songwriting partner Adrian Smith with him and the band kept bonus guitarist Jannick Gers. Now a six-piece, the big boys of metal released three albums in the Zeroes. All of them are long, noodling and by no means The Number of the Beast, but at the same time they are consistently better than anything since Seventh Son. Maiden were also smart enough to realize that the new material isn’t as rousing onstage – their solution was elegant and ingenious: Dust off your ass-kicking 1985 World Tour gear, pack it on your own  jet plane and just do it all over again. This is captured in all its glory in the highly recommended documentary Flight 666.  
  4. KMFDM – In 1999 KMFDM released Adios, their farewell album. They’ve cheerfully made fun of this while making six studio albums and about a bazillion singles, remixes and side projects since. Bringing in Lucia Cifarelli brought an end to hired-gun female vocalists as well as adding another songwriter to the fold, and the often underrated Tim Skold had his fingerprints all over their third decade of bold-faced rip offs “conceptual continuity”. Still political, still angry, KMFDM have nonetheless loosened up a bit, presenting a little more Blackadder than black leather. 
  5. Amorphis – If Entombed and Chrome Division define Death n’ Roll, Amorphis created a kind of DoomPop with Tuonela, a record filled with the rich textures, lyrical imagery and saxophone (!) you’d normally get from artists associated with the singer/songwriter world. It’s the heaviest U2 album ever made. After that, things got a bit weird with two straight-up psychedelic releases before Eclipse, Silent Waters and Skyforger returned us to the land of the Kalevala with Tomi Joutsen as our upgraded tour guide. By mining the national epic for narrative, Amorphis became a band with stories to tell, the Neil Young of the metal world. 
  6. Arch Enemy – Obviously, it’s been a good decade for the “A” section of my shelves, and AE really got cooking with the addition of pint-sized punk menace Angela Gossow. Debate as you will about who did what first, Gossow has become the poster girl for female contributions to extreme metal. She’s made enough of an impression that the Arnotts have retroactively made her the sole vocalist of the band by putting her up front in early-hits redux record The Root of All Evil. Sorry, Johan! The band put out four studio albums in the Aughts (two great, one good, one so-so), toured relentlessly and recorded tons of live material. We don’t know what the Teens will bring, but as of right now, they are Kind of a Big Deal. 
  7. Rob Halford – I wonder if the Metal God likes to make lists? If he made one for the 2000’s, it might look a bit like this: Reunite legendary metal band Judas Priest – check. Successful solo records praised for their heaviness (thanks Roy Z!) – check. Clothing line, recording studio – check and check. Just for fun, make a well-received Christmas album – check. Do all of this as a gay man in his fifties – ka-check!
  8. In Flames – I’m still learning to love 2004’s Soundtrack to Your Escape (and might never), but otherwise it’s been full speed ahead for the Jesterheads. Arguments over which of Clayman or Reroute to Remain is better are futile, since both are excellent. The choruses have gotten punkier over the years (they do tour with hardcore bands a lot) but the band still lays a firm claim to their piece of the Gothenburg Sound.
  9. Danko Jones – He’s “big in Sweden”! Thus Danko complains to typically lackluster Toronto crowds whenever he plays at home. He can be moody with his non-emotive Canadian fans but it hasn’t stopped him from releasing several chunks of straight-up rock. They’ve all got some great numbers on them, and very little filler. Danko’s also one of the few guys operating today who sings about girls without sounding either emo or femicidal.  
  10. Apocalyptica – There’s that “A” again. 2000 was the year Apocalyptica stopped depending on cover songs and took off on their own with Cult. Each subsequent release added new elements to the cello quartet’s classical sound: Reflections has drums and a touch of piano, Apocalyptica throws in some vocalists and Worlds Collide finally fully embraces the big goth-rock mess of the genre they basically invented. I’m not as much a fan of the latter album, thinking that they lost some of their unique charm by putting too many kids on the vocal side of the teeter-totter. As a whole, however, they make this list by rising above the tide of “A Gimmick X Tribute to Band Y” to become their own masters.

 Honourable Mention: Motörhead, but then, it’s always their time.

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