It’s been four years since Judas Priest’s “Redeemer of Souls” hit the airwaves but the mighty Priest are back with a vengeance with their 18th studio album “Firepower.” For this record, the band went back to an raw and organic recording process with the band all in a room playing together and the result is a phenomenal classic metal album with a modern edge.
After 48 years of melting faces all over the world and over 50 million albums sold, Judas Priest have nothing left to prove yet somehow they managed to come up with one of their best records in decades. “Firepower” is an adrenaline fueled powerhouse full of crushing riffs and intense rhythms. Both the title track and the first single “Lightning Strike” already feel like classic Priest rockers and are some of their heaviest work to date. The band brought back producer Tom Allom, the man behind classic Priest albums like “British Steel” and “Screaming for Vengeance,” to work with Andy Sneap and the duo really hit the nail on the head sonically. Frontman Rob Halford’s vocals sound amazing. Although his hair raising falsetto shrieks are fewer and further between, he can still belt them out and his performance on “Children of the Sun” is a true showcase for his abilities. Although this album doesn’t have the nonstop dueling leads of the Tipton/Downing era, guitarist Richie Faulkner has really come into his own over the last few years sharing divebombing leads and expertly placed solos with master axeman Glenn Tipton. Anchoring this metal ship are the charging rhythmic forces of rock solid bassist Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis.
“Guardians” is a beautiful instrumental interlude which sets the stage for the fist pumping arena anthem “Rising From Ruins” before the listener is forced to take cover from the scorching pace of “Flame Thrower.” One of the best tunes comes in the latter part of the record with the epic “Traitors Gate” with its ominous opening strains drawing you in before the intensity hits you in the face like a shotgun blast. “No Surrender” is a fantastic song that has Priest showing all the vim and vigor of a band fifty years their junior. The ballad “Sea of Red” is a fitting closing track bringing the listener back down to reality after such a wild and crazy ride.
“Firepower” is a true metal masterpiece from the veteran band. With Glenn Tipton’s recent retirement from touring due to his ongoing battle with Parkinson’s Disease, nobody knows what the future holds. In the meantime, crank this one up and bow down to the Metal Gods! May they forever scream for vengeance as they valiantly defend the faith!