Meet The New Priest. . . .

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Rating 93% (4 Votes)

Look, don’t expect me to say anything bad about the mighty Priest – period.  My fondness for them goes all the way back to British Steel (I know, I know, but then I went back and bought the earliest stuff, the stuff that all true fans say is the “real” Priest).

Now, the big change with this album is that it’s the first ever – EVER – without guitarist K. K. Downing, who left a couple years ago.  But with all respect  to him(and that’s a great deal: he was a simply excellent guitarist), this change is not of the same magnitude as Rob Halford’s leaving Priest way back in 1992.  And I say that with (again) all respect to Halford’s replacement, Ripper Owens – a great singer, for sure.  But Priest is one of those bands whose sound is fairly dependent on the frontman’s voice, and, good as Ripper’s voice was, it wasn’t Halford’s.  However, I must say that new guitarist Richie Faulkner does a fine job of filling in for departed K.K. – those glorious harmony guitars and complementary leads are still here.

What Else Is New?

Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  In fact, the material on this album is less new than that on their previous album, the one I was the only guy in the world (it sorta seemed) to like, their extremely ambitious double-disc concept album Nostradamus.  While I always bristled at the commercial cynicism of the band in the movie Rock Star, the movie supposedly based on Priest’s replacement of Halford, I must say that it’s clear that these guys know what their audience likes and what they themselves are best at playing.  I even find it hard to single out better and worse songs – the album is pretty consistent.  (Okay all right: how can I not put in a good word for “Metalizer” – even if just for the title?)

How’s The Voice?

I hate cliches, but here goes: I’d listen to Rob Halford sing the phone book.  He’s not my favourite heavy-metal singer: I guess I’d put him third (if we’re talking traditional metal) to Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson and, of course, the greatest of all, the late Ronnie James Dio.  But that’s distinguished company, and Halford, at 62, shows no fear and shows no mercy here.  It’s glorious to hear him sing, even if the songs, face it, don’t create the excitement of, say, “Breaking the Law” or “The Sentinel” or “Beyond the Realms of Death.”  And the rest of the band still has the chops; this is no empty exercise but a good solid album.

And So. . . .

And so it’s a good solid album.  Whether you liked Nostradamus or not (you should!), if you are a Priest fan, you ought to have Redeemer of Souls.  If you’re not – well, start with British Steel.

GW

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