Still screaming with a vengeance, after all these years.
JUDAS PRIEST took inspiration from their 1970s roots for 2014’s ‘Redeemer of Souls’, one of my desert island albums. For 2018’s ‘Firepower‘ they choose to re-explore the 80s styled Metal that made them radio stalwarts, complete with alumni Producer Tom Allom. It’s a fine collection, that, unfortunately, won’t be joining me on any desert island retreats.
After 50 years and 18 studio albums I can’t imagine there’s a riff, hook, or harmony PRIEST has yet to explore. That is some of what holds ‘Firepower‘ back, redundancy. For every spark of imagination there’s plenty of “heard it all before.” And, of course, those perfunctory hockey arena cheese lyrics.
However, bringing in co-Producer Andy Sneap decidedly helps on operatic closer “Sea of Red” and more complex songs like “Children of the Sun“, “Spectre“, and within the devilish choral dive of album highlight “Flame Thrower“. While young gun Richie Faulkner flashes on faster cuts like the blistering title track and stellar “No Surrender“.
There is simply too much tedious retread riffage and not enough of PRIEST’s trademark ear-worm hooks and juicy harmonies. While sixty-something frontman Rob Halford understandably keeps things more middle of the road octave-wise. Still, I’d take his weathered snarl over most everyone else’s shriek any day.
Complexity, variety, and speed keep JUDAS PRIEST’s 2018 album ‘Firepower‘ a worthy contender. Despite the tendency for mediocrity, these Metal veterans have nothing to prove. A world with JUDAS PRIEST in any form is still better than a world without.