7 out of 10
“Redeemer of Souls”, released on Epic Records in the summer of 2014, is the seventeenth studio album from the Birmingham heavy metal band, Judas Priest and the job of reviewing it was always going to be tough for me, being one of their biggest fans.
It’s the first album featuring new guitarist Ritchie Faulkner after he replaced K.K. Downing in 2011 and this together with the mediocrity of previous album “Nostradamus” made me a little sceptical but I took it on with an open mind and non judgemental ears.
At just over an hour long this album needed to grab me by the short and curlies, making me want to headbang my way around the living room and reach for my air guitar but after the first play through, it sadly didn’t do this.
Gone were the hundred miles an hour guitar solos and the ear piercing vocals of frontman, Rob Halford, of the 80’s. But play it through a few times and you will see they have been replaced by slower riffs and rumbling drums throughout. This gives the album a heavy, methodical feel, although this can, at times, make the album seem as if its “plodding” along. A slight change in order of the tracks could possibly have overcome this and even the much overplayed “March of the Damned” eventually had me nodding my head as I drove to work (too much real headbanging would have made me crash my car!)
The lyrics throughout the album are generally strong, if a bit repetitive on a few tracks, but Halford’s vocals are back to tip top condition, despite recent criticism.
“Cold Blooded” is the stand out song for me, its lyrics haunting me from the very first time I heard them, a compliment to all those who contributed to the writing of the track.
“Battle Cry” is the only track I have to fast forward as it reeks of “Nostradamus” and the obligatory Priest ballad “Beginning of the End” is the final song on the album. Is this a subliminal message to the fans as to what is to come?
If you want to hear a Judas Priest album with the Priest sound of their 80’s heyday, then don’t buy this album. But if you are willing to embrace the idea that bands sometimes evolve and change as they get older and can’t necessarily perform to the speed and intensity they used to then this is one for you.
This album is a definitely a “grower” and the more I listen to it the more I like it.
And that’s not just the Priest fan in me talking!