Redeemer of Souls is the seventeenth studio album by the English heavy metal band Judas Priest, which was released on 8 July 2014. It is their first album since 2008’s Nostradamus and also their first without founding guitarist K. K. Downing, who quit the band in 2011 and was replaced by new guitarist Richie Faulkner. The album sold around 32,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to land at position No. 6 on The Billboard 200 chart, the band’s highest charting position in the US after the group’s previous album “Nostradamus” debuted at No. 11. This marks the band’s first top-10 album debut in the US. It has sold 110,000 copies in the US as of February 2016.
Dragonaut—-Beginning in typical epic fashion, the familiar Priest guitars kick in and we are off on another journey. Halford soon follows with his trademark vocal….sounding better than ever and you are amazed at the power of this man’s voice. The double track chorus and the pitch of the vocal is exquisite. This band has NEVER let me down. Heavy Metal has never sounded better!
Redeemer Of Souls—-The guitar intro combined with the drums are incredibly huge right from the step off. New guitarist Faulkner is at home in the band, you can tell from the sound. Halford displays an even better vocal on this track….the one heavy metal singer who has never lost his range. He strains a bit more….but he has never sounded better. When he hits that note on the word ‘souls’, I am in heaven!
Halls Of Valhalla—-In my opinion, the best track from this epic release….simply because the vocal is so damn fantastic. The intro mist that the music creates is just incredible….the music building and building until you are smacked in the face with the rhythm section and the drums. The pace of the song is pretty rapid for modern day Priest…..and then Halford unleashes that scream…..Damn….can it really get any better than this. I think not. The tale has a nice Nordic feel to it….and you are easily caught up in the energy of the song. Incredible! And Rob still has that growl from his Fight days!!!
Sword Of Damocles—-With an incredible twin guitar intro, we are taken on yet another Nordic tale of fight and conquer. Halford sings in a comfortable range….with a back track on the chorus that makes the song much larger than it would be without. The playing is so good on this release…..taking you right back to the glory days of NWOBHM! Great mood swings allows the song an even more epic feel than imaginable!
March Of The Damned—- With a dense and dark intro, the vocal enters with a surprising melodic feel that sucks you right in. This is almost Sabbath inspired Priest…not that I have any problem with that….they are all Birmingham blokes after all. This has a great sound….something that breaks up the monotony of an album that might sound to same otherwise. Great song placement. Incredible guitars….and a drumming that seems even more in your face than usual.
Down In Flames—-That familiar melodic guitar enters with a flourish and then swells and gets eaten by the more aggressive Faulkner style. Halford sings in a gruffer but Blues twinged vocal…not my favorite……but the double track/echo in the second part of the track gives it body and a sing a long feel.
Hell & Back—-Quiet and introspective at the onset, Halford sounds like he is mourning. But have no fear….the band comes alive and the mourn turns into pure pleasure and Metal. Halford conjures up a stalking image that sticks in your brain….delivering a sing a long chorus that will drive arenas crazy with glee. This is typical old school Priest….think…..Live Turbo.
Cold Blooded—-Swirling guitars and straight up delivery usher in the sedate vocal of Halford. He delivers line after line filled with contemplation and melody. The drums on this release, as I commented earlier are just incredible and make the songs seem huge. This sounds straight off the Nostradamus release…full of ebbs…flows and vivid lyrics.
Metalizer—-Back to straight on delivered Heavy Freakin’ Metal with a huge vocal is what this track is all about. Again….I speak of song placement…the order you put songs on a release keeps one from becoming bored…and this release is a mastery in great placement. This is balls to the wall Metal…from the erratic bass line to the screaming double track vocal this is fantastic!
Crossfire—-Back to a more blues infused sound at the onset and ensuing guitar entrance, I’m not that crazy about this track. This seems rather rote and mechanical to me….but does offer a nice sing a long chorus for those maniacs that want to throw fist in the air.
Secrets Of The Dead—-Sedate at the onset but rapidly opening up with the guitars and crashing cymbals, the track takes a bit of a downturn at the entrance of the vocal…becoming a bit more plodding and dark. But consider the title…lol. This is a nice track….filler…but still big enough to fit masterfully.
Battle Cry—-Displaying incredible guitar playing and drums at the onset, this track somewhat dissolves into what we have already heard…it is only Halford that keeps the entire thing lifted up to exhalation. When he hits those notes….my God….I can’t believe this man can still do this. A modern day miracle!
Beginning Of The End—-With a very clear and melodic guitar intro that has a nice slight echo to it, the song evolves slowly. Halford delivers a mournful intro that makes you wonder what he would sound like on Broadway…the man can sing just about anything. This is sad….wistful and thought provoking….but incredible Priest none the less.
Snakebite—-I don’t like anything about this track……sorry! Too bluesy and forced.
Tears Of Blood—-With huge twin guitars and crashing drums, the pace of this song is incredible. The chorus is huge and encourages you to sing a long at the top of your lungs on the highway with the top down. This defines the Priest I grew up with…..a classic sound in the here and now.
Creatures—-Deep and delivered with a sinister sounding vocal, there is still a bit of a blues tinge I really don’t care for…but the vocal does manage to soar and rise with the guitars. It is almost as if the guitars and the vocal serve as one unified voice…..a pretty incredible feat!
Bring It On—-Swirling guitars that allow Faulkner to soar with his new found fame. The track still has a foray back into the blues kind of a feel…but this could stand up to any of my favorite Priest tracks on this release. The kick drum is huge…..driving the track to be even larger and louder than expected.
Never Forget—-Without a doubt, one of my favorite tracks from this release. Sounding almost like a retirement, good-bye, thank you track, it is filled with emotion and intensity. Halford delivers a vocal that is full of sadness and over whelming emotion. This may be a prerequisite ballad…but damn…it never got any better. This is fantastic.
****1/2 out of 5