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Album Reviews : Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls

By on July 14, 2014

Redeemer of Souls cover artI’ve heard some people label this album ‘generic’. Redeemer of Souls is generic heavy metal in the same sense that Star Wars is generic Sci-Fi. When you’ve been at this for as long as Judas Priest have, and are a band that were essentially at the forefront of a genre during its early inception, as well as having driven some of its most enduring trends, you’re bound to find similar patterns in said band’s later years. This is no less true of this album, or of Judas Priest, for that matter.

While Redeemer of Souls mightn’t be revolutionary and perhaps could have done to be a little shorter than it, it is regardless a solid heavy metal album and one that plays off the tropes of a past generation. You can glean a lot from early listen-throughs of this album. It is in every way classic Judas Priest. With moments that seem to fill an unspoken void between their earlier records, these moments hearken back to prior glories, such as the likes of British Steel, Sad Wings of Destiny, and Painkiller.

As well as this, there are other moments that touch on previously unexplored territory or things that bring to mind past musical shifts in direction from other bands. The most notable moment where this occurs is on Redeemer of Souls’ third track, “Halls of Valhalla”. What this song immediately brought to the fore in my mind was Black Sabbath’s Tyr album, a record which marked an immense departure musically for that band at the time, and is similarly the case for Judas Priest here. “Halls of Valhalla” also boasts one of Redeemer of Souls standout moments. At around the 4-and-a-half minute mark, vocalist Rob Halford cries out the word ‘Valhalla’ to which the second-and-third syllables carry over for the next 20-odd seconds. It builds up what is otherwise a rather simple phrase into a rising, epic moment that culminates in one of Halford’s trademark high-pitched notes.

It’s difficult to pinpoint a highlight on this record. There are so many instances in which you hear elements that bring to mind the most unexpected of Judas Priest songs, such as “Grinder” (from British Steel) on the song “Dragonaut”. I would have to say “Cold Blooded” was a definite stroke of brilliance, however. This song reminds me of another of my favourite Priest songs, “Out in the Cold”. “Cold Blooded” also packs the most punch on this album when it comes to the twin guitar assault of Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner. Their guitars ring in such wonderful harmony with one another, and fuelled by one of Halford’s best vocal performances in some time, their dual solos near the end of the song flow brilliantly as one.

I feel this is where Redeemer of Souls excels best at. This album isn’t trying to ‘reinvent the wheel’ by any measure. Rather, Redeemer of Souls comes across as a celebration of all that has made Judas Priest the influential metal prodigy they have been for the past forty years. There is a little bit of everything here over the course of the album that has helped forge Priest’s career, and should appeal to a wide listenership, whether old or young.

Band: Judas Priest
Album: Redeemer Of Souls
Year: 2014
Genre: Heavy Metal
Label: Sony Music/Columbia Records
Origin: UK

Tracklisting

1. Dragonaut
2. Redeemer of Souls
3. Halls of Valhalla
4. Sword of Damocles
5. March of the Damned
6. Down in Flames
7. Hell & Back
8. Cold Blooded
9. Metalizer
10. Crossfire
11. Secrets of the Dead
12. Battle Cry
13. Beginning of the End

About

Jonathon is an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi novelist and music journalist. Thanks to the influence of the music he grew up with, he has always possessed a keen interest in metal and rock. He is also a huge fan of mythology, legend, and folklore from all across the world. You should follow him on Twitter.