On March 9, 2018, "Judas Priest" released their 18th studio album "Firepower".
The name of the album definitely indicates its content. The "firepower" of "Judas Priest" rains down "heavy metal" with high intensity on us, with sound and musical material that manage to recreate the "golden age" era of the band.
Singer Rob Halford noted that the stated goal of "Judas Priest" on this album, was to reinvent some of Priest's classic moments and to that end they traced the band's roots. It can be said that this goal has been realized with a classic "Judas Priest" album, which sounds and looks (yes the cover also has a part) like the greatest albums in the band's repertoire.
Indeed, this album combines the classic and rooted style of the band, with a modern and updated sound, courtesy of legendary producer Andy Sneap, known for his "magic" with veteran metal bands such as "Accept" and producer Tom Allom, who produced the band's albums in the 80's.
"Judas Priest", who dominated the classical metal scene for three decades, began to lose its relevance in the 1990s with the departure of Rob Halford. The band, formed in 1969 (even before the year when Metal was born with the albums "Black Sabbath" and "In Rock"), but released their debut album only in 1974. Since then, especially during the 1970s, the band has been responsible for the design of the "Heavy Metal" genre, no less than the "Founders' Generation" bands, with masterful albums such as "Sin After Sin" and "Stained Class". In the early '80s, with the rise of the "New Wave Of British Heavy Metal" bands, "Priest" managed to reinvent itself, with an accessible and catchy sound like on the "British Steel" album, but still not lose its identity and maintaining the DNA that defined it. Even as the wave of Thrash Metal swept the world of metal, "Judas Priest" managed to stay relevant and give the new (second) wave of metal bands a serious fight, with one of the greatest albums in metal "Painkiller". But then, just at the height, Rob Halford decided to retire and cut short the success while at it's peak. Even after the return of the "Metal God" "Judas Priest" failed to replicate the success and failed to produce masterful albums, such as those that raised it to the top of the metal world. Therefore, "Firepower", in a sense, is a great celebration for metal lovers wherever they are.
And as we mentioned, we think this is the best album by "Judas Priest" since "Painkiller". All 14 songs were written by Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner, who not only stepped into K. K. Downing's big shoes with great success, but even manages to cover up for Glenn Tipton, whose playing abilities were impaired due to Parkinson's disease.
The theme song "Firepower" opens the album "With a Scream", literally, and sets the tone for everything that comes after. The heavy riff and Scott Travis's brutal drumming are a purposeful display of powerful demonstration and "firepower". Richie Faulkner noted that a friend of his told him that the song sounded like "Painkiller", only faster so it's probably Priest's fastest song, especially in terms of the drum playing. Undoubtedly, this is a crazy energy bomb at a fast pace, but still sweeping and catchy, especially in the melodic solo, with the harmonic sound of the twin guitar.
The album continues at a high rate of "fire" with "Lightning Strike" - the first and excellent single released from the album. Rob Halford noted that the general idea of the song was to use the "lightning strike" to pull away and tear apart at an individual, at a body of people, maybe an organization, maybe an administration, that is kind of leading you, or leading us, into potentially a destructive place. Similar to the opening song, this is a powerful and melodic piece that showcases everything that characterizes the classic "Priest"ת as well as the performance ability of all the band members.
Then comes "Evil Never Dies", which starts heavier and slower, with a dark riff during the verses, which sits on the "Black Sabbath" slot. It's a dynamic, surprising and complex piece that gets a first twist in the transition part to a chorus that sounds like a classic "Priest", it changes again with the guitar solo sitting on the c-part and continues to evolve with the quiet atmospheric section that takes us back to the "Black Sabbath" influences. This is without a doubt one of the most interesting excerpts from the album that demonstrates the incredible writing ability of the Halford-Tipton-Folkner triangle.
By the way, this is not the only track on the album whose riffs and general vibe will remind you of "Black Sabbath". Take for example "Children of the Sun", "Specter" or "Lone Wolf" and you will understand what we mean.
The amazing sequence of songs continues with "Never the Heroes", the third single released from the album. It opens with a synth effect that momentarily takes us back to the days of "Turbo", but immediately after the heavy riff arrives and changes everything, with one of the album's more catchy anthems.
"Priest" manage to maintain a high level of writing and performance throughout the album. The flamboyant metal of "Flame Thrower", the dynamic complexity of "Traitors Gate" and the recorded metal of "No Surender" prove that there are no falls on this album. Even songs that initially sound a little less catchy like "Necromancer" or "Rising from Ruins" end up sticking and not letting go.
It is interesting to note that the album includes a short and symphonic instrumental track called "Guardians", which cuts the album in two as well as an epic metal ballad "Sea of Red", which ends the album with a loud bang.