Written by Lucas Jones
Redeemer of Souls, Judas Priest’s seventeenth studio album is finally here. For a few months, eager fans have been teased with news, interviews, and singles, but nothing could have prepared us for just how ridiculously good this album is. This album is a more straight forward attempt by Priest, which stands apart from the orchestral, layered, concept album Nostradamus. The dual guitar work of Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner is definitely the highlight of this album, and helps move the action forward. From thunderous riffs, to mind blowing fretwork, to solo tradeoffs and harmonies, the guitars are the driving force of this album. Most importantly, the music grabs you and doesn’t let go.
The first three tracks play an important role in setting the tone of the album. “Dragonaut” and “Redeemer of Souls” kick things off by mixing catchy riffs and melodic soloing with Halford’s classic vocal styling, to produce a solid one-two punch to open the album. At this early stage, you start to understand why Glenn Tipton stated in early interviews, “From start to finish, ‘Redeemer of Souls’ is…pure classic Priest metal.”
Even the first two tracks do not prepare you for the third (and arguably the best) song on the album, “Halls of Valhalla”. This six minute epic is, well, epic. The whole song builds towards a heavy breakdown and vocal performance from Halford that will give you goose bumps. Cap off this track with another impressive solo and some chanting that will be perfect in a concert setting, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better song on the album.
The middle of album keeps things going strong, tracks like “March of the Damned,” “Cold Blooded,” and the heavy groove of “Crossfire” prove that Priest isn’t feeling any older than when they released their best-selling album, Screaming for Vengeance. In fact, it seems the years have provided the band with some space to grow and become comfortable moving away from a faster=heavier approach, and focusing on achieving a heavy sound by mixing soft and loud parts, fast and slow playing, and focusing on writing melodies that stick in your mind much longer than just some blazing fast guitar playing. The transition from “Battle Cry” to “Beginning of the End” is great for this reason, ending the album on a memorable note.
Through 45 years, and more line-up changes than I can count, Judas Priest stands tall as champions of heavy metal, and “Redeemer of Souls” is another notch in their already full belt. While many feared that their “Epitaph” tour was their exit from music, it seems that they are back, and stronger than ever. We can only hope that the last track, “The Beginning of the End”, does not foreshadow the fate of Judas Priest. The Metal Gods are back on their throne,