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METAL LEGENDS ONLY HALFWAY TO TRIUMPH

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Judas Priest’s long awaited 17th. studio album holds up for about half of the duration but a lot of it seems contrived and rather tired

JUDAS PRIEST, "Redeemer Of Souls" (Columbia)

From approximately 1978 and until the 1990 album "Painkiller" I was practically a slave to all things Judas Priest.

If Black Sabbath invented Heavy Metal, their bombastic fellow Birmingham townsmen Judas Priest were the ones to refine and cultivate rock’s most enduring subgenre with essential bombings of the entire metal landscape like

"Stained Class", "British Steel", "Screaming For Vengeance", "Defenders Of The Faith" and "Painkiller".

Priest’s influence and importance for Heavy Metal cannot be overstated and I had rather hoped that with this, the Priest’s seventeenth studio album, they would come back as convincingly as the aforementioned Sabbath did a year ago with “13". Especially considering the failure that was the predecessor “Nostradamus" six years ago and the fact that Priest’s founding guitarist KK Downing has since then left the band to be n replaced by Richie Faulkner.

The band obviously had something to prove now.

While “Redeemer. . ." may be an adequate album, it’s not the territory conquering triumph one could have have hoped for though.

Contrived
There’s no doubt that Judas Priest have aimed for exactly that triumph with this album. Like there’s no doubt that the band has given much thought to making the album that would erase the lean 90’s and the “Nostradamus" failure from the memories of their fans.

Only to come back with all those guns blazing that secured them world domination back in the 80’s.

Giving the project that much thought though bears the inherent risk of things becoming contrived. Many songs here seem contrived rather than fresh because Judas Priest obviously have been hell bent (sorry) on incorporating every one of the hallmarks from their classic albums here. The catchy intro riff, the sing-along chorus and the screaming solos to mention just three of those hallmarks.

Adequate
So far, so-so. In their eagerness to meticulously “construct" the ultimate, Priest have lost a great deal of savagery and devil may care attitude in their music and execution of same.

Said savagery and attitude repeatedly get lost in the grandiose presentation here, but those qualities are if any essential to make sense of Heavy Metal and way too many of the songs here just chug along instead of letting loose and go crazy.

As a fan of this band and this music for what seems like all my life, I’ve had “Redeemer Of Souls" playing repeatedly for several days, hoping to drag up the rating. Never the less I – rather sadly – keep coming back to “adequate" and a three star rating.

A damn shame really as everything here is brillantly played and produced while 62-year old Rob Halford is still a great singer – even if he quite naturally is no longer able to reach those high notes he was once renowned for.

There are SOME good songs here. Like the almost bluesy “Crossfire", the epic metal symphony "Metalizer", the quint essential Priest blazers "Halls Of Valhalla" and "Battle Cry" and not least the simple, catchy and guaranteed to be a live favorite "Down In Flames".

It’s not ENOUGH though! Considering the running time of 62 minutes.

Yeah, I’ve noticed that lots of my colleagues around the World have praised Priest for "Redeemer Of Souls", and I’m sure I’ll get flak for this review. So be it then. It doesn’t change the fact that large parts of "Redeemer Of Souls" seem contrived and in some places rather tired. Sadly.

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