HomeMusicReview: Judas Priest, 'Firepower'

Review: Judas Priest, ‘Firepower’

Judas Priest Firepower

I’ll start with a question: What do you hope to be doing when you’re 66? Getting ready to retire? Settling down somewhere warm? How about dropping vocals on one of the greatest heavy metal albums ever made? You and I will probably be looking at the first two, but that last one would be the territory of Rob Halford, and the album would be the newly released Judas Priest LP Firepower.  

Starting off with the self-titled track is always an indicator of how good the track is. Using it as a new concert opener fits too, as we get a classic chugging riff interspersed with that signature Halford scream. One thing that is immediately noticeable is how good the guitars sound in the mix. Saturated, yet crunchy rhythms. Warm and flowing harmonies. Aggressive and punchy leads. No surprise considering the bands nearly 50 years of musical experience. “Lightning Strike” and “Evil Never Dies” showcase the band’s ability to switch between a classic heavy metal sound and more open, melodic songwriting, especially on the pre-chorus during “Evil Never Dies.”

The middle of the album is all about banging your head, with “Necromancer” potentially being the best song on the album. “Guardians” into “Rising From Ruins” provides a nice operatic build, and a break from the heavy metal onslaught. Reminiscent of a more dynamic “Hellion/Electric Eye”, the tracks signal a shift towards the more up-temp, punk-ish “Flamethrower.” I really enjoy the variety of songs on this record. With fourteen tracks, it would be very easy to get bogged down if all of the songs sounded the same. The band does a great job of utilizing dynamic and tempo changes to keep your ears fresh. Priest does it all on the album.

“Spectre” invokes what I like to call “Spooky Priest.” Slower tempo songs that use specific notes to throw the listener into a state of unease, the most famous example from their catalogue being the songs “Night Crawler” and “The Ripper.” “Traitors Gate” is a solid metal jam, and “Lone Wolf” shines with its bold Sabbath style riffage. I would have never expected to hear near-stoner metal on a Priest album, but here it is. And it works brilliantly.

Numbers time. Normally I try to build some suspense, but my spoiler in the first paragraph gives it away. Firepower is one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time, period. The fact that it comes after and album that Priest fans all expected to be the last is just an indicator that Judas Priest isn’t done yet, they are only getting stronger.

Firepower Rating: 10/10


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