Judas Priest is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year with a world tour coming to the US in the fall. The 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour will also feature Sabaton as openers and is being fueled by the highest-charting album of Priest’s career ‘Firepower’ which peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200. Judas Priest originally formed in 1970 in Birmingham, England (an area that many feel birthed heavy metal). The original nucleus of musicians – Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, KK Downing and Ian Hill (along with several different drummers over the years) would go on to change the face of heavy metal. The band has made some of the greatest albums in music history. Judas Priest’s lineup also includes Scott Travis on drums, and Richie Faulkner on lead guitar. Andy Sneap has been touring with the band on rhythm and lead guitar since 2018. In 2017 (and again in 2019) Their latest studio album Firepower (produced by Sneap and Tom Allom) which received global success and critical acclaim and released via Epic Records in 2018. The band was nominated for the 2020 Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. Continue reading
With eighteen studio albums and almost fifty years under their bullet belts, Judas Priest, alongside Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, have managed to become a household name even in houses where the occupants haven’t even heard of Heavy Metal. Their legacy is inarguable. In fact, there is so little left to say about the band that hasn’t already been documented in some way over the last four (now virtually five) decades, that all you really need to know is this: They’re Judas fucking Priest.Continue reading
Judas Priest rolled into Foxwoods Casino Grand Theater like a freight train for their eighth stop on the current Redeemer of Souls tour into what seemed to be a sold out show or at least close to it. And how amazing would it be to see a band like Judas Priest right up front with no barrier? Well if you had always dreamed of that, and you were lucky enough to be seated in the first four rows, then this was your lucky night! The theater is a traditional one with permanent seats on the floor and a small orchestra pit but there was no barrier and the first four rows were allowed to stand right at the stage. And as soon as that huge Judas Priest banner dropped from the ceiling, those who could did and those who couldn’t were envious. To be inches away from Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill and newest member Richie Faulkner? I’d say that is something to remember and brag about for years to come.
The show started and the whole theater erupted in screams and cheers. Almost the entire theater stayed on their feet for the near 2 hour set which combined both old and new songs. Rob Halford proved he still has the pipes, hitting the torturously high notes on songs like ‘Victim of Changes’ with seeming ease and power. Even with multiple outfit changes from Rob and the classic motorcycle entrance, the set never lagged once which can be no easy feat for any band let alone one stacked with so much material to cover. Each song brought new waves of excitement through the crowd which never seemed to get enough from the legends. I myself could have and would have watched another hour easily. They sounded amazing and never mis-stepped. Personally I would have loved to hear something off of Rocka Rolla and Stained Class, but you can’t have everything you want.
So it’s been 40 years you say? Well they sure haven’t slowed down much judging by their non-stop, high speed performance and they left us all wanting more, chanting, “Judas Priest!” over an over at the end. I can only hope they come back again, and again, and again. Maybe some more of the early stuff I love so much next time. Go to see them when they come around on this tour and you will not be disappointed.
Judas Priest Set List
Victim of Changes
Halls of Valhalla
March of the Damned
Redeemer of Souls
Beyond the Realms of Death
Breaking the Law
Hell Bent for Leather
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
Living After Midnight
Defenders of the Faith
Beginning of the End
It has been 40 years since Judas Priest released their debut album, Rocka Rolla, a kitsch rock album that showcased little to suggest the career that was to follow. Just take a minute to take that in. Forty years. Four decades in which Priest have, along with Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, formed an unholy British triumvirate that has influenced every single metal band, bar none, between them. Unlike Maiden, who are at the peak of their popularity in their later years, and Sabbath, who since reuniting with Ozzy are world-wide festival headliners, the Priest never quite received the same level of consistent commercial success, despite tracks like ‘Breaking The Law’ being universally known, and their Painkiller album being one of the greatest metal albums ever released.
It has been strongly suggested that Ruby anniversary album Redeemer Of Souls (Epic/Columbia) is going to be their last foray into the recording studio, and that should come as no surprise. Not only has Redeemer been over 3 years in the making, but iconic vocalist Rob Halford and bassist Ian Hill are 62, while guitarist Glenn Tipton is 66. Despite such a lengthy career, his foil and lead sparring partner KK Downing has stepped down from the band due to a breakdown in relationships and doesn’t feature on a Priest album for the first time, unobtrusively replaced by Richie Faulkner.
So, against the backdrop of both their own incredible legacy, a confusing and underwhelming last album (2008’s Nostradamus), and recording without a long-term member for the first time, Judas Priest are releasing their swansong.
The first thing to point out is that they were never going to re-record Painkiller, itself nearly a quarter of a century old and THE most “metal” album of all time. So, if you’re expecting raging drums, pinch harmonic squeals, full on aggression, this isn’t the Priest album for you. The intention after Nostradamus was to release a more straightforward, down the line summation of what Priest is, does and stands for and what Redeemer Of Soulshas is a beautifully warm and classic Priest feel, not too dissimilar to the vibe embraced by Angel Of Retribution and highly reminiscent of a Sad Wings Of Destiny or Sin After Sin;
While Rob Halford’s ear-splitting attack has been toned down to a more mid-range delivery, he is still distinctive and stately over a series of strong rock songs that takes you through the dynamic range of what Priest have offered over the years. Opening triad ‘Dragonaut’, ‘Redeemer Of Souls’ and ‘Halls Of Valhalla’ bring the quick, single note, spiky riffs synonymous with tracks like ‘Nightcrawler’ or ‘Freewheel Burning’ and raise the horns, arms pumping, choruses soaring, an approach that serves ‘Down In Flames’ and the Hill driven ‘Hell & Back’ equally well.
But where Redeemer…really works is in the more mature, considered material like ‘Cold Blooded’, that amalgamates ‘Blood Stone’ with a downer, Heaven & Hell darkness, and ‘Sword Of Damacles’, ‘Crossfire’ and ‘March Of The Damned’, with their looser, head-nodding 70’s vibes. A very consistent album is finished strong with the epic ‘Secrets Of The Dead’, brother-in-arms to ‘One Shot At Glory’ the marvellous ‘Battle Cry’ before a very brave and interesting choice of closer ‘Beginning Of The End’, a reflective number in the vein of ‘Before The Dawn’ or Black Sabbath’s ‘Solitude’, finishes things.
Redeemer of Soulsfulfils the role of final chapter capably, as JudasPriest release a retrospective that nods to their career, recalling everything that has made them genuine legends of our metal world. I sincerely feel honoured and saddened to be writing about final release from one of the best there’s ever been; a true great that is signing off with a fitting epitaph.
8.5 / 10