Judas Priest – ‘Firepower’ album review

Band: Judas Priest
Album: Firepower
Release Date: 9th March, 2018
Label: Columbia

 

 

Review by John

With a career spanning nearly 50 years, you’d think that by now Judas Priest should be spending their days sat at home with their feet up watching repeats of Countdown.
It comes as something as a shock then that this, their 18th studio album, is their best in almost 30 years.

Right from the very start, with title track ‘Firepower’, this is an album that has Judas Priest stamped through it like a stick of Blackpool rock. As the familiar sound of Glen Tipton’s majestic guitar work provide fine backing for the fire and fury vocals of Rob Halford, we’re on familiar ground, but that’s the beauty of it. At this stage of their career, we don’t want experimentation. We want classic Priest. And ‘Firepower’ (both the track and the album as a whole) deliver just that.

Take ‘Evil Never Dies’, a majestic, headbanger with the catchiest of choruses which sees the band reaching peaks not seen since Halford’s first stint as frontman. Meanwhile, lead single ‘Lightning Strike’ sees a 21st century polish added to that unmistakable Priest sound.
Things rarely let up, as we are taken from slightly slower paced fare such as ‘Rising From Ruins’ to the breakneck sound of ‘Necromancer’.

The highlight of the album, however, is penultimate offering ‘Lone Wolf’. With a chugging, slightly doomy sound, this has echoes of Cathedral at their grooviest. It does feel slightly out of place amid the full on metal of the rest of the album, but by the time the searing solo kicks in, you find yourself completely hooked.
Album closer ‘Sea Of Red’ soars majestically as we head into total epic metal ballad territory, and sees things go out on a high note (and I don’t mean Halford’s legendary vocals).

While the album is probably a little too long (‘Children Of The Sun’ in particular, a track that never quite works out where it wants to go, could have been cut without being missed), there’s just so much fun to be had.
At times, it is guilty of straying a little into the realms of cliche, and there is more cheese to be found than at the annual Dairylea convention. But isn’t that ever so slight cheesy air one of the things we love so much about Judas Priest? There aren’t many bands that can get away with it. But Judas Priest are very much one of them.

Simply put, Priest haven’t released an album that could be classed as essential since ‘Painkiller’ in 1990. And while ‘Firepower’ never reaches those lofty heights, it’s certainly the best they’ve sounded in many a year.

Time to dust off the studded leather. Priest are back to prove that nobody does it better.

 

 

 

Track Listing:
01. Firepower
02. Lightning Strike
03. Evil Never Dies
04. Never The Heroes
05. Necromancer
06. Children Of The Sun
07. Guardians
08. Rising From Ruins
09. Flame Thrower
10. Spectre11 Traitors Gate
12. No Surrender
13. Lone Wolf
14. Sea Of Red

 

Visit the band on Facebook: www.facebook.com/OfficialJudasPriest

Official website: www.judaspriest.com