Showing posts with label K.K. Downing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label K.K. Downing. Show all posts

CD Review: Judas Priest – Defenders of the Faith: Special 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

CD Review: Judas Priest  Defenders of the Faith: Special 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
All Access Rating: A-

Judas Priest - Defenders of the Faith:
Special 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
Defenders of the Faith never really escaped the long shadow cast by its predecessor, 1982's more revered Screaming For Vengeance. 

Burdened with impossibly high expectations, Judas Priest's ninth album certainly has its detractors, many of whom swear the metal gods were simply repeating themselves and unable to recreate the incendiary magic of an enduring song such as "You've Got Another Thing Coming," among other Priest classics.

It did go platinum, though, and it wasn't just because it rode Screaming For Vengeance's coattails for all they were worth. Reissued by Columbia/Legacy, the three-CD Defenders of the Faith: Special 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition presents a golden opportunity for reassessment, the remastering job clearly defining the sterling metal craftsmanship and subtle accessibility of the smoldering smash hit "Some Heads Are Gonna Roll," as well as the rich, complex circuitry of "The Sentinel," the aggressive, rough-trade erotica of  "Eat Me Alive" and Priest's oddly stylish and infectiously robotic sex toy "Love Bites." Some of the edgiest and most sinister stuff in Priest's catalog is found on Defenders, practically baiting the PMRC into giving the record some titillating publicity, but it's also perhaps one of their most sophisticated efforts, as this release so reverently articulates.

Not that it needed much of a push, what with the hit-and-run energy of "Freewheel Burning" and "Jawbreaker" setting pulses racing, thanks to the thrilling guitar interplay of Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing. Delve a little further and rediscoveries of "Rock Hard Ride Free," a fist-pumping. mid-tempo anthem with a gripping groove, and the shadowy, slow-burning "Night Comes Down" beg for renewed appreciation, all of this setting the stage for a dynamic and warmly recorded live outing, included in its entirety, from the "Defenders" tour that completes this package.

Storming into the Long Beach Arena in California on May 5, 1984, Priest eagerly and with relish attacks the new material, injecting more tension into "Love Bites," adding heft to the swinging wrecking ball that is "Heavy Duty" and charging into "Freewheel Burning" and "Jawbreaker" with blood lust. Along with rigorous workouts of Priest favorites like "Electric Eye," "Living After Midnight," "Hell Bent for Leather" and "Breaking The Law," this set rips through lesser known classics, such as "Sinner," "Grinder" and "Desert Plains," with controlled violence, Rob Halford singing them with as much conviction, vicious intent and operatic expression a he gives to the classics, like the venomous jams "Victim of Changes" or "The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)."

Maybe some additional demo material or unreleased songs from that era would have enhanced this collection, but as it is, it certainly gives listeners reason to revisit the cloaked brilliance of Defenders of the Faith, an album that not only still holds up, but also deserves more respect.
– Peter Lindblad

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