CD Review: Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls

CD Review: Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls
Epic Records
All Access Rating: A-

Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls 2014
It's not like Judas Priest hasn't been through this before. After all, the heavy-metal legends lost the god-like Rob Halford, he of the iconic operatic range and leather-and-studs fashions, in the early 1990s to the streets, or at least what passed for street-tough metal back when he was slumming it with Fight.

Tabbing an able replacement in Tim "Ripper" Owens, they remained calm and carried on, recording a couple of fiery live albums, as well as Jugulator and Demolition, two fairly well-received studio efforts. That is the English way, isn't it?

For the thundering aural furnace that is Redeemer of Souls, their latest LP on Epic Records, founding member K.K. Downing, who retired in 2011, was conspicuously absent. In his stead, guitarist Richie Faulkner has thrived, and so has Priest, Redeemer of Souls roaring like a burning chopper from hell and punishing the unbelievers with bone-crushing riffs, spiraling dual-guitar dogfights, heavy rhythmic undercurrents and some of the most panoramic and diverse vocals Halford's ever attempted – his ferocious death-metal bellow and expansive screams on the haunting, canyon-deep "Halls of Valhalla"are worthy of a place in Norse mythology.

Perhaps nothing in Priest's extensive catalog is as darkly melodic as the epic, billowing "Cold Blooded," while "March of the Damned," "Down in Flames," "Dragonaut" and "Hell & Back" are massive guitar orgies, brutal and purposeful one minute and fiercely progressive the next, as songs on Redeemer of Souls evolve and undergo subtle, but usually powerful and unmistakable, metamorphoses, like the one that takes place in the title track.

That's not the case with the frenzied "Metalizer," which dispenses with pretense and simply goes thermonuclear with Priest riffage. This doesn't feel like a final send-off. There's too much energy here, the intense creativity and sharp focus found on Redeemer of Souls hinting that there's a lot of life left in this old machine, even with all the miles they've put on. Then again, adding a new part now and then can provide a spark, and it seems Faulkner has done just that.
– Peter Lindblad

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