Album Reviews - Reviews

Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls


Judas Priest have always had a ‘balls to the wall’ sound, largely courtesy of guitarists KK Downing and Glenn Tipton. So when Downing decided to abandon ship in 2011, it was the musical equivalent of Priest losing a bollock.

Kicking off their seventh album, ‘Dragonaut’ positively tears out of the speakers, leaving you in no doubt that if this is Priest on one bollock, it’s still better than most other things.

Redeemer of Souls is very much Judas Priest being ‘Judas Priest’, delivering molten slabs of classic heavy metal, stories of warriors, machines, and beasts. And by adhering to the formula that made them such a force to be reckoned with in the 70s and 80s, they play to their strengths, delivering an album stands as a timely reminder of why Priest once reigned supreme on the heavy metal landscape.

New boy Richie Faulkner is an able stand-in for Downing, delivering solid guitar thrills and spills, whilst Tipton and bassist Ian Hill stick to doing what they do best – melodramatic, driving, hard rock. Frontman Rob Halford hasn’t quite got the vocal chops of yore, those impossibly high screams moving further and further out of reach, but rather than embarrassing himself, or resorting to studio trickery, he instead sticks to a range he’s comfortable with, enabling him to concentrate on being a Metal God.

‘Halls of Valhalla’ and ‘Sword of Damocles’ are prime cuts of surging, Nordic-themed heavy metal, and have an impressively high body count in the lyrics. ‘Metalizer’ is the kind of anthem that Priest could do in their sleep, and it’s all the better for it, whilst the title track is suitably epic, Halford spewing all manner of self-imagined mythology that would sound ludicrous in anyone else’s hands. ‘March of the Damned’ is a token nod towards the mainstream, a slightly more radio-friendly affair that suffers in comparison to the company its keeping. Priest don’t need to doff their cap to the mainstream; they’re the perennial outsiders, and it suits them.

There’s a nice comparison with last year’s Black Sabbath renaissance, a completely unexpectedly triumphant return to form that saw them topping the album charts in both the UK and the US. But where Sabbath succeeded almost in spite of themselves, Ozzy in particular sounding like he’d been assembled by machine, Priest sound rejuvenated, comfortable in themselves, and confident about what they do. Unlike Sabbath, Priest don’t seem to feel the need to acknowledge the modern era, instead knowing that what we really want from them is exactly what they do best – hard, muscular metal. Steven Rainey


is a writer and broadcaster who has spent his entire life being an elderly version of himself. He believes in the power of True Rock, and discovered heavy metal at the age of 30. He has never married, but has been divorced twice.