Concert Review – Judas Priest (Tribute Communities Centre, Oshawa, ON, 03/28/2018)

A night of celebration of the purest form of British Heavy Metal in the Ontarian city of Oshawa, spearheaded by the unparalleled Judas Priest.

OPENING ACTS: Black Star Riders and Saxon

Getting from Oakville to Oshawa for a concert is always a nightmare due to the humongous distance (almost 100km) and the fact I have to drive there exactly during the peak of rush hour. However, for my total delight, it was fairly quick to get to the Tribute Communities Centre in Oshawa yesterday where the mighty Judas Priest was going to play their unparalleled classics, supported by the ass-kicking Black Star Riders and Saxon as the opening acts. After a Tuesday of rain and fog, the day yesterday was beyond perfect, being totally clean and dry, and with the temperatures reaching almost the positive double digit mark. I guess the weather knew it shouldn’t mess with the Metal Gods, right?

One thing I highly recommend if you ever attend a concert or a sports event at the Tribute Communities Centre is to grab a bite before (or maybe even during) the event at the Prospects Bar & Grill, the pub that’s right inside the venue. Good food, cold and crisp beer, and all for a very decent price, helping you to properly get ready for the event. Actually, because I arrived there right when BLACK STAR RIDERS, a band formed by members and ex-members of renowned acts like Thin Lizzy and Alice Cooper, started their concert, I couldn’t really watch them perform, but I was listening to their music from the pub with attention and they sounded solid and entertaining with their old school Rock N’ Roll, with their cover song for Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak and their own song Bound for Glory being the highlights of their performance.

Setlist
All Hell Breaks Loose
Jailbreak (Thin Lizzy cover)
Before the War
Heavy Fire
Who Rides the Tiger
Kingdom of the Lost
When the Night Comes In
Bound for Glory

Band members
Ricky Warwick – vocals, guitar
Scott Gorham – guitars
Damon Johnson – guitars
Robert Crane – bass
Chad Szeliga – drums

After a short break (and now already sitting in my proper place in the floor section), it was time for Biff Byford and his Heavy Metal institution SAXON to begin their sonic attack on stage, delivering pure metal from the NWOBHM, with songs like Power and the Glory, Motorcycle Man, Denim and Leather and Heavy Metal Thunder inciting all fans at the venue to start banging their heads nonstop to their classic Heavy Metal. The band was on fire from start to finish promoting their brand new album Thunderbolt, not giving any time for the crowd to breathe or take a bathroom break, with Mr. Byford being a true beast on vocals. My favorite tune played from their new album was by far They Played Rock and Roll, introduced by the band as their personal and honest tribute to the greatest Rock N’ Roll band of all time, the glorious Motörhead. And let’s face it, any tribute to the one and only Lemmy Kilmister is never enough, right? He always deserves more and more, and when that comes from such an amazing band like Saxon, the homage paid is even more powerful.

Setlist
Olympus Rising
Thunderbolt
Power and the Glory
The Secret of Flight
Motorcycle Man
Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)
Dallas 1 PM
They Played Rock and Roll
Denim and Leather
Princess of the Night
Wheels of Steel
Never Surrender
Heavy Metal Thunder

Band members
Biff Byford – vocals
Paul Quinn – guitars
Doug Scarratt – guitars
Nibbs Carter – bass
Nigel Glockler – drums

JUDAS PRIEST

The intensity of the metal played by Saxon was exactly what everyone needed to get really warmed up for the main attraction of the night, the iconic metal behemoths JUDAS PRIEST. It was already past 9pm when Black Sabbath’s War Pigs started playing on the speakers, followed by the intro Guardians, before the band spearheaded by the Metal God Rob Halford hit the stage to the sound of their newborn classic Firepower, the opening track of their majestic new opus Firepower, putting a smile on everyone’s faces and showing everyone at the venue that the Metal Gods still got it no matter what happens to them. Of course I missed seeing the guitar hero Glenn Tipton (who’s not touring with the band due to the complications of his recently diagnosed case of Parkinson’s disease) slashing our senses with his riffs and solos on stage, but Andy Sneap did a pretty good job replacing him. And what to say about Richie Faulkner? The guy is undoubtedly a core piece of Judas Priest now, showcasing all his skills as a great guitarist that he is and also having an excellent performance on stage.

Nothing I can say about the setlist will represent its true beauty, as the Priest played a mix of some of the best songs of the new album, such as Lightning Strike and Evil Never Dies, with amazing classics from almost all of their albums, including really old school material such as Running Wild, The Ripper, Some Heads Are Gonna Roll and especially Saints in Hell, from Stained Class, and album that turned 40 years old this past February 10. After watching them playing that stunning song live, I once again must say their music is definitely like wine, getting better and better as time goes by. Furthermore, the video they played on their background screen during Saints in Hell was superb, with all the dark and red imagery of Christ, demons and wild beats being mesmerizing, and I wonder if one day they’ll upload it somewhere like YouTube as an alternative video for this beyond classic metal hymn.

My only complaint about their setlist was replacing one of the most touching metal ballads of all time, the absolutely beautiful Angel (which they were playing until their concert at The Anthem in Washington, D.C. on March 18), with the good-but-not-fantastic The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown). This song feels like when Iron Maiden play “Wrathchild” on their live concerts, as we all certainly enjoy it but we also know deep down inside there are far better options to be part of their setlist. Anyway, the last part of their setlist, including the encore, was a true feast of pure Heavy Metal, working like a tribute to the Rock N’ Roll lifestyle, with metallic hymns like Breaking the Law, Hell Bent for Leather and Living After Midnight being some sort of “motto” or “guide” to anyone who lives and breathes rock music 24/7. I was honestly hoping that Glenn would hit the stage out of nowhere to play the last batch of songs with the band last night, just like what he did at The Prudential in Newark, New Jersey on March 20, but unfortunately that did not happen in Oshawa. Well, I can’t complain at all, as seeing Judas Priest live once again was truly amazing and memorable, making even my 90km drive back a lot easier and smoother than I thought, and I can’t wait to see them again in a not-so-distant future, hopefully with Glenn back in action.

Setlist
War Pigs (Black Sabbath song)
Guardians
Firepower
Running Wild
Grinder
Sinner
The Ripper
Lightning Strike
Bloodstone
Saints in Hell
Turbo Lover
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown) (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Evil Never Dies
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
Breaking the Law
Hell Bent for Leather
Painkiller

Encore:
The Hellion
Electric Eye
Metal Gods
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
Living After Midnight
We Are the Champions (Queen song)

Band members
Rob Halford – vocals
Richie Faulkner – guitar
Andy Sneap – guitar
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Scott Travis – drums

Album Review – Judas Priest / Firepower (2018)

The Metal Gods are firing on all cylinders with their majestic new album of pure and highly inspired Heavy Metal.

When British Heavy Metal legends Judas Priest announced they were just about to release their 18th studio record, the magnificent Firepower, I already knew it was going to be an epic album. Not only it’s the first studio album since their 1988 release Ram It Down to be produced by Tom Allom and the first ever with the always precise and competent Andy Sneap as co-producer, but the entire band (Rob Halford on vocals, Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner on the guitars, Ian Hill on bass and Scott Travis on drums) is absolutely on fire throughout the album’s almost one hour of the purest form of “British steel” that will beautifully and powerfully pierce your ears and control your mind, compelling you to bang your head nonstop and raise your horns to the iconic Metal Gods. By the way, the amazing album art, created by Chilean artist Claudio Bergamin, breathes scorching fire like an enraged dragon, fully in line with the unparalleled history of one of the most formidable bands in heavy music.

Although their 2014 opus Redeemer of Souls was already fantastic, showcasing a veteran band at the top of their form, the metallic extravaganza found in Firepower is so majestic and inspiring that not even the terrible news of Glenn Tipton being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which unfortunately for all lovers of true metal music won’t allow him to tour as much as before with the band (being replaced by Andy Sneap during the upcoming Firepower 2018 World Tour), could ruin the magic crafted by the band in Firepower, and Glenn in his most humble “the show must go on” mode had a few nice words to say about his situation, encouraging the band to continue with the tour. “I want everyone to know that it’s vital that the Judas Priest tour go ahead and that I am not leaving the band – it’s simply that my role has changed. I don’t rule out the chance to go on stage as and when I feel able to blast out some Priest! So at some point in the not too distant future I’m really looking forward to seeing all of our wonderful metal maniacs once again”, said one of the greatest guitarists in the history of Heavy Metal.

Getting back to the album, five seconds are all that the mighty Judas Priest need to explode our senses with their incomparable metal music in the title-track Firepower, where Glenn and Richie begin their flammable riff-fest before the Metal God Rob Halford comes crushing with his unique metallic vocals. Put differently, the band offers us a high-octane, electrifying and straightforward 80’s-style version of themselves for our absolute delectation. And without wasting a single second the Metal Gods fire another superb hymn titled Lightning Strike, a mid-tempo, rumbling composition led by the always precise Scott Travis, with the rip-roaring way Halford declaims the lyrics being beyond thrilling (“I’ll bring you the head of the demon / I’m peeling the skin from his face / The life that you lead is inhuman / Its cause and effects a disgrace / You’re sowing the seeds of a nightmare from hell / Your prayers and your demons are tolling the bell / Walking through fire, fate’s in my hands / Waiting for lightning to strike / Man on a wire, bearing the brand / Waiting for lightning to strike / Lightning to strike”). Then darker riffs by Glenn and Richie permeate the air while Halford tells a somber story in Evil Never Dies, a sonic masterpiece perfect for hitting the road that will urge you to bang your head and scream together with Halford every single time you listen to its flawless lines.

Slowing down the pace a bit, but still sounding vibrant and epic, Never the Heroes brings forward lyrics about the fortunes of war and all the darkness that fills the heart of a soldier (“We were fearless but so afraid / Though in our hearts we still felt pain / We’re on fire but on a leash / We only ever wanted peace”), with the solos by both Glenn and Richie being a thing of beauty. Needless to say, this battle hymn will sound stunningly powerful when played live. Following such touching song we have Necromancer, a solid display of Heavy Metal infused with Stygian elements and nuances (mainly due to the nature of the song), closer to the band’s  sonority from the albums Angel of Retribution and Redeemer of Souls; and Children of the Sun, another song to sing along with Halford & Co., presenting a headbanging rhythm led by Scott with his steady beats and the simple but effective bass lines by Ian Hill. As usual,  the band’s guitar duo does an amazing job with their crisp solos, enhancing the song’s punch considerably.

Their metal feast goes on with a gentle piano bridge named Guardians, warming our ears and minds up for the powerful Rising from Ruins, displaying an elegant sonority where Halford has a titanic performance, stealing the spotlight with his deep and passionate vocals, not to mention how Scott keeps the music flowing smoothly with his classic beats. And what to say about the next tune, aggressively titled Flame Thrower? When I first saw the name of the song I was more than sure it was going to be ass-kicking, and guess what? It is indeed a true rockin’ extravaganza ignited by the slashing guitars by Glenn and Richie, in a blend of their own music from albums like British Steel and Ram It Down mixed with Halford’s solo career. Also uniting old school and modern Judas Priest, the quintet delivers the gripping Spectre, where Richie adds a touch of modernity to the band’s trademark sound with his guitar while Halford once again impersonates a “dark poet of metal”. Then a melancholic intro quickly morphs into a flammable and adventurous metal hymn entitled Traitors Gate, showcasing all elements we learned to love from NWOBHM, and, as a consequence, being tailored for admirers of the more epic side of the band. Furthermore, the guitars by Glenn and Richie are in total sync with Scott’s beats and especially with Halford’s potent roars and high-pitched screams, making it a true exhibit of classic metal.

The last batch of songs in Firepower is quite interesting, as if the band decided not to release them as bonus tracks of a deluxe edition of the album despite their uniqueness, but instead they added them to the regular version of it as a gift to all metal maniacs who have been supporting the band since their inception. No Surrender is straightforward Rock N’ Roll infused with Heavy Metal nuances highly inspired by the band’s own 80’s musicality, or in other words, if this was part of British Steel, Defenders of the Faith or Screaming for Vengeance it would have been a metal classic today. Hence, can you feel their guitars penetrating deep inside your heart? Then the superb Lone Wolf feels like they wanted to pay a stylish tribute do Black Sabbath, Pantera and Down all at once in a fusion of top-notch Heavy Metal with the dementia and aggression of Stoner and Doom Metal. Even the usually quiet Ian Hill delivers some thunder through his bass, with Richie and Glenn stealing the spotlight with the heaviest riffs of the entire album while Halford is simply astounding on vocals. And last but not least, how about a touching and majestic ballad titled Sea of Red, closing this grandiose album in great fashion, with Halford’s voice sounding even more impactful together with the fiery guitars by Richie and Glenn? And don’t forget to pay very good attention to the lyrics as they’re simple but very potent.

In summary, Judas Priest are all fired up in Firepower, delivering everything we love and expect in their classic and always incendiary Heavy Metal, therefore proving once again they’re not called the Metal Gods in vain. There are several retailers where you can purchase this masterpiece of old school and contemporary metal perfectly united, such as iTunes, Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart, providing you the most exciting soundtrack for anything you need to do in life. After such brilliant job done in Firepower, let’s hope now that Glenn can somehow overcome Parkinson’s disease, and that we can see him sooner than anyone can expect on stage with the rest of the band, firing some of their biggest classic together with the new combustible songs from the new album, because that’s where a talented and hardworking guitar god like him should always be.

Best moments of the album: Firepower, Lightning Strike, Evil Never Dies, No Surrender and Lone Wolf.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Epic Records

Track listing
1. Firepower 3:27
2. Lightning Strike 3:29
3. Evil Never Dies 4:23
4. Never the Heroes 4:23
5. Necromancer 3:33
6. Children of the Sun 4:00
7. Guardians 1:06
8. Rising from Ruins 5:23
9. Flame Thrower 4:34
10. Spectre 4:24
11. Traitors Gate 5:34
12. No Surrender 2:54
13. Lone Wolf 5:09
14. Sea of Red 5:51

Band members
Rob Halford – vocals
Glenn Tipton – guitar
Richie Faulkner – guitar
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Scott Travis – drums

Concert Review – Judas Priest (Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON, 11/12/2015)

Thousands of Heavy Metal maniacs screamed for vengeance together with the Metal Gods on a memorable night in Toronto.

OPENING ACT: Mastodon

Judas-Priest-Redeemer-of-Souls-Tour-2015Fortunately, after the excruciating hassle of having to drive for hours to get to Casino Rama to see Judas Priest last year, an enlightened soul realized there was an urge emanating from all metalheads in Toronto to have the Metal Gods in town for a proper concert, and therefore we were all granted with a memorable Heavy Metal celebration at the Air Canada Centre last night. I know some people loved the fact they could stay in Orillia for some gambling and beer, taking a day or two off for that, but they must understand this is all about praising the almighty Judas Priest, not about wasting your money in tedious slot machines. I just wish the floor section didn’t have those stupid seats. Why not just having a floor section, period?

IMG_0770The opening band this time were American metallers MASTODON, with all their craziness, psychedelia, heaviness and unquestionable talent. However, the biggest problem for me (and I’m sure it was the same with lots of other Priest fans at the concert) was their lack of charisma. I mean, they have all the ingredients to be one of the best metal acts in activity, but unless you’re high on something it’s pretty hard to enjoy their full setlist. Songs like High Road and Megalodon stand out among the others, but the overall result is not as exciting as watching a less skilled band on stage playing simpler but a lot catchier songs. All band members masterfully handle their instruments, and if you’re a guitar player you probably go insane with their intricate riffs and compositions, but I think it’s a lot better to listen to their music at home or in your car than at a venue like the Air Canada Centre. I’m not saying it was a bad concert, quite the contrary, Mastodon were pretty good. It just wasn’t what I had in mind as the perfect warm-up for the Metal Gods.

Setlist
Tread Lightly
Blasteroid
The Motherload
Chimes at Midnight
High Road
Aqua Dementia
Mother Puncher
Halloween
Bladecatcher
Black Tongue
Ember City
Megalodon
Blood and Thunder

Band members
Brent Hinds – guitar, vocals
Bill Kelliher – guitar
Troy Sanders – bass, vocals
Brann Dailor – drums, vocals

JUDAS PRIEST

IMG_0773Finally back to the CITY of Toronto after four long years, Heavy Metal titans JUDAS PRIEST seem to be getting better and better as years go by. Perhaps it’s the fresh energy brought to the band by the awesome guitarist Richie Faulkner, or the fact that Redeemer Of Souls put the band back on track in their career, but the truth is that they’ve been delivering flawless concerts for years in a row now, putting smiles on everyone’s faces and reminding us all why they’re called “Metal Gods”.

When the backdrop curtain carrying the Priest classic logo dropped, right after the venue sound system played an excerpt of “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath and the intro to one of their own new songs, the excellent “Battle Cry”, an avalanche of Heavy Metal classic mixed with some of their new tunes began, driving all diehard fans crazy with their intensity and passion in this successful Redeemer of Souls Tour 2015. And from the very beginning we could see how impressive the performance by the one and only Rob Halford is nowadays. The Metal God is already 64 years old, but he can still deliver it like if he was just 20 something. It’s sometimes unbelievable how powerful his voice still is at this stage of his career, don’t you agree?

IMG_0780I personally found part of the fans at the venue a little too slow for the electricity imposed by the band, but anyway most Heavy Metal maniacs had an unforgettable time singing and screaming together with Halford & Co. during the entire setlist. From the first part of the concert, I must say it was beautiful witnessing Halford singing the classic Desert Plains while Richie and the iconic Glenn Tipton were ripping our hearts off with their razing riffs, as simple and effective as that. And what to say about Halford’s monumental performances in the unparalleled Victim of Changes and the newer Halls of Valhalla, already a classic song for many? Holy shit, that gave me metallic goosebumps so awesome it was.

Then after playing a few more incredible tunes, such as The Rage and Turbo Lover, it looked like the Metal Gods wanted to mark our hearts, bodies and souls with their burning metal as the sequence of Heavy Metal anthems was beyond superb. They didn’t just play my favorite Priest song of all time, the fiery Screaming for Vengeance, they executed it to perfection. Add to that the back video where you could follow its lyrics (and see a meme of Halford SCREEEEAAAAAAMING! on the video by the end of the song), and you have the most astonishing moment of the night. Not only that, as soon as this masterpiece was over, Halford intoned his famous “Woo-woo-woo-yeah!” before the whole band kicked some serious ass with Breaking the Law and Hell Bent for Leather, the latter featuring Halford’s shining Harley-Davidson for the delight of everyone at the venue.

IMG_0793But before Judas Preist let Toronto be that quiet and cozy city again, they fired two final rounds of all-time classics, including Electric Eye, Painkiller and Living After Midnight. Let me tell you something about Painkiller, as it was a really bold move by the band to put it at the end of the setlist knowing how demanding it is, especially for Halford. When the unstoppable drummer Scott Travis provoked Toronto to go wild with his unique drumming intro, I wasn’t sure if Halford would be capable of delivering his high-pitched screams during the whole song. Well, guess what? That was by far the best performance by the Metal God singing Painkiller I’ve ever seen in my life, a billion times better than their 2005 DVD Rising in the East, and that was over 10 years ago.

At around 11pm the concert was over, people started heading back to their homes by car, subway or, like I did, by Go Train. Everyone was displaying a mix of happiness and complete exhaustion on the way back, but one thing is beyond certain after you witness such a beautiful ode to Heavy Metal. It doesn’t matter how long it takes for Judas Priest to return to Toronto again, we’ll all be there one more time to enjoy our metallic deities celebrating heavy music and, of course, SCREEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAMING FOR VENGEANCE!

Setlist
War Pigs (Black Sabbath song)
Battle Cry
Dragonaut
Metal Gods
Desert Plains
Victim of Changes
Halls of Valhalla
The Rage
Turbo Lover
Redeemer of Souls
Beyond the Realms of Death
Screaming for Vengeance
Breaking the Law
Hell Bent for Leather

Encore:
The Hellion/Electric Eye
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’

Encore 2:
Painkiller
Living After Midnight
Beginning of the End

Band members
Rob Halford – vocals
Glenn Tipton – guitar
Richie Faulkner – guitar
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Scott Travis – drums

Concert Review – Judas Priest (Casino Rama, Rama, ON, 10/07/2014)

The Metal Gods descended from the sky to assault all of us with their magnificent Heavy Metal in a land far, far away.

INTRODUCTION: The Lost Civilization of Casino Rama

Judas-Priest-Redeemer-of-Souls-Tour-2014If you want to stay away from any type of civilization in this world, I suggest you go to a place called Casino Rama, located around two and a half ENDLESS hours from Toronto. In theory it should be a lot faster than that, but if you take into account the 5pm traffic to leave the city on a Tuesday (right in the middle of the week, by the way) and an annoying dose of heavy rain, the hassle of getting there is horribly extended and becomes a real torture. Who the hell decided Casino Rama on a tuesday night were the best venue and date for Judas Priest to perform in Ontario? I swear to God, Odin, Buddha and any other deity that I’ll NEVER return to that place again if not for Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. No other band can make me go there again, not even Slayer or Megadeth.

Not only that, I truly hate Heavy Metal concerts with pre-assigned seats. Why not leaving the floor section without those fuckin’ chairs? Just create a general floor area, and whoever wants to sit down while Judas Priest are playing Hell Bent For Leather (if that’s humanly possible), simply take one of the seats at the back. As simple as that, but it seems the very “knowledgeable” organizers were expecting Judas Priest to be as smooth as Kenny G or any other shit like that. Anyway, let’s try to always look on the bright side of life: at least the venue was nice and clean, parking was free, and the sound quality was beyond perfect. And of course, if you’re addicted to gambling, that’s also a good place to be.

OPENING ACT: Steel Panther

IMG_2955When the opening act are Hard Rock/Glam Metal jesters STEEL PANTHER, you know it’s going to be a memorable night. Although they’re truly funny even with 99.9% of their sexist jokes being really stupid, I believe their superb skills as musicians are what make them so awesome to watch, especially vocalist Michael Starr. In my opinion, he’s a much better singer than all hard rockers from the 80’s. Well, maybe only singer Ralph Saenz (ex-L.A. Guns) can be compared to him. Got it?

Their setlist might have been a little shorter than usual, but still full of classics such as Asian Hooker, Gold-Digging Whore, and Death To All But Metal, plus some songs from their new album All You Can Eat like the good Gloryhole, all perfectly complemented by their jokes about the age of the attendees (especially those screaming ladies in their 40’s and 50’s), their debate about Michael Starr being a fat version of Bret Michaels or a skinny version of Vince Neil, among many other “pearls of wisdom”. There couldn’t have been a better warm-up than that for the Metal Gods.

Before I talk about the Priest, I just wanted to say that it might be really cool and a huge honour for Russ Parrish to be on the road with the Metal God Rob Halford once again, even if they’re in different bands now. If you don’t get it, click HERE and you’ll understand why I mentioned that.

Band members
Michael Starr – lead vocals
Satchel – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Lexxi Foxxx – bass guitar
Stix Zadinia – drums, percussion, piano

JUDAS PRIEST

IMG_2973It was around 9:30pm when Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton & Co. hit the Casino Rama stage for another flawless performance. Right after Black Sabbath’s War Pigs and the intro for Priest’s own new song Battle Cry, thunders roared, the curtain was dropped and there they were with the excellent new song Dragonaut assaulting our bodies and souls with the purest Heavy Metal in the whole universe. What can I say about those guys that hasn’t been said yet? Rob Halford is not human: he is and will always be the METAL GOD, with his unique voice being absolutely perfect for both heavy stuff and smoother ballads; Scott and Glenn were as precise and heavy as usual; Richie injected some new oxygen to the band and proves with each concert why he was an amazing choice to replace K. K. Downing; and for the first time in my life, due to the sound quality of the venue, I could listen to Ian Hill’s bass lines.

Perhaps the most curious detail of their performance at Casino Rama (and during this whole tour so far) is the total absence of any songs from the masterpiece Painkiller, including its title-track, as well as other classics like “Electric Eye” and “Rapid Fire”, from the setlist. Instead, they opted for other types of classics, a little bit more underground but just as great as any of those songs, such as Devil’s Child, Jawbreaker, Love Bites, and Defenders of the Faith (which could have been complemented with “Heavy Duty” right before it like in the studio album, but that was awesome anyway), kind of celebrating 30 years of their classic album Defenders of the Faith.

And as we’re talking about the mighty Judas Priest, there’s a lot more to enjoy than “just” their unparalleled Heavy Metal: each and every song had a different background, with highlights to the fun and exciting images of the cult movie Nosferatu (1922) during Love Bites; Halford’s famous “robot walk” during Metal Gods; their badass Harley-Davidson in Hell Bent For Leather; and Halford letting the crowd sing Breaking the Law on their own, just like he did with his solo band during his Rock In Rio III concert in 1999.

IMG_2967One thing I truly loved during this concert was the fact that all new songs from Redeemer Of Souls sounded awesome live and were perfectly blended with their old classics, especially the magnificent Halls Of Valhalla. What an outstanding performance by the whole band during this powerful song, especially, of course, Mr. Rob Halford. Just as I mentioned in my review of the new album in regards to this song, “… which I’m sure will become a fan-favourite especially due to its lyrics and chorus and will also sound superb when played live”, and I was totally right!

The encore, with anthems like You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ and Living After Midnight, was a sonic orgasm to all Heavy Metal lovers that attended the show, but in my opinion the most memorable moment of their entire performance happened a little before that, when they played the all-time classic Beyond The Realms Of Death. Honestly, Rob Halford almost made me cry so beautiful and emotive his performance was. It was one of those moments you know why you love heavy music so much, and fully understand why he is entitled the Metal God.

I must admit the long and boring journey back from Casino Rama to Toronto on the same night (I got home at around 2am) was a lot easier thanks to the adrenaline running through my veins after such a stunning concert by the Priest. Although the band members are visibly aging (Rob, Glenn and Ian are all in their mid-60’s already), does that mean it’s the “beginning of the end” for the band? I don’t think so. As far as I could see, they’re better than ever, very excited to craft new powerful music, and playing their old classics with so much passion they look like they’re just starting their careers. And, of course, I cannot wait to see the Metal Gods kicking some serious ass live again with their unique jaw-dropping Heavy Metal. JUDAS FUCKIN’ PRIEST!

Band members
Rob Halford – vocals
Glenn Tipton – guitar
Richie Faulkner – guitar
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Scott Travis – drums

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Album Review – Judas Priest / Redeemer of Souls (2014)

The Metal Gods are finally back with another marvellous sonic storm forged in the fires of pure Heavy Metal.

Rating1

Redeemer-of-souls-album-cover-art-1280Take a look at the imposing album art of the awesome Redeemer of Souls, the highly anticipated brand new album by the unbeatable English Metal Gods Judas Priest, and there’s only one word that will come to your mind: METAL. That’s it, pure Heavy Metal. No experimentations, no synths, no electronic shenanigans, nor any other non-traditional Heavy Metal stuff. Even the production of the album sounds fresher and rawer than usual, despite many people complaining about it. After six long years since the good but controversial Nostradamus, the Priest is finally back to their basics, and this time it looks like it’s for good.

First of all, Redeemer of Souls, their seventeenth studio album in over 40 years of history (an impressive milestone, by the way), perspires Heavy Metal. As aforementioned, the band “abandoned” all the experimental stuff of the past two decades and opted for a 100% direct sonority, selecting what’s best in some of their classic albums such as Painkiller, Ram It Down and Sin After Sin, blending it with some interesting elements from Halford’s solo career, and adding an extra dose of energy to all songs, which is astonishing given the fact all band members, except for Richie Faulkner, are over 50 or 60 years old. And secondly, although I miss K.K. Downing and his phenomenal razing guitar duos with Glenn Tipton, Richie is indeed a pretty decent replacement for him and this is proven with his excellent contribution to this album.

But it’s when the music actually starts that you remember why they’re called the Metal Gods: it’s impossible not to fall in love for the opening track, the fantastic Dragonaut, with its “stormy” intro, heavy riffs, straight-forward lyrics and catchy chorus (“Fire in the sky paralyzed with fear / You know you´re gonna die / Dragonaut is near”), and everything else! If this song had been recorded back in the 80’s  or 90’s, it would have become one of Priest’s all-time classics without a shadow of a doubt. Then comes the title-track, Redeemer of Souls, a mix of “Dissident Aggressor” and “Hell Patrol” that is everything old Priest fans wanted to hear again. The lyrics couldn’t sound more Priest than this (“Count down coming your way / He’s the last to obey / Watch him seizing the day / Redeemer – redeemer of souls”),  and I can’t wait to do some air guitar with this song when Judas Priest come to town.

Judas PriestWithout a single second of boredom, the band keeps the energy level really high with the epic Halls of Valhalla (or maybe I should say “VALHALLAAAAAA!”), which I’m sure will become a fan-favourite especially due to its lyrics and chorus and will also sound superb when played live, followed by Sword of Damocles, another mighty track with a great initial riff blended with heavy and melodic drumming (with Mr. Scott Travis sounding as awesome as usual). Moreover, even after 40 years I’m still impressed with how metallic and captivating Halford’s voice always sounds, and it’s a pure delight to follow him declaiming the lyrics for this song so intensely. The next track, March of the Damned, has a very Hard Rock sonority with highlights to another great work done by Richie and Glenn, while Down in Flames can be considered the most “Halford” song of the entire album (it could have easily been part of his latest solo album Made of Metal).

Then we have another of the top songs of the album, Hell & Back, with a beautiful smooth intro followed by Ian Hill’s strong bass lines, more excellent heavy riffs perfect for that slow headbanging while having a cold beer, and an awesome fast ending; and Cold Blooded, which despite it’s nice rhythm, lacks more feeling an ends up being just an average song. And what can I say about a song called Metalizer? It’s as heavy as it can be, from the riffs to the drumming, from Halford’s voice to the strong chorus, with lots of similarities to “Demonizer” and “Hellrider” from Angel of Retribution.

I simply love the fact that Redeemer of souls doesn’t have only 9 or 10 songs and basically no intros or bridges, because there’s still a lot more to come. Crossfire seems to be some kind of tribute to Dio and Black Sabbath, with its intro and many other parts sounding like “I” from the excellent album Dehumanizer; while Secrets of the Dead is a slow and dark tune, one of the most melodic of the entire album, with its nice guitar solos and interesting narration in the middle enhancing its overall quality.

And lastly, the final two songs of the regular version of the album showcase a truly inspired band and leave us fans avid for more Priest: the mighty Battle Cry, with its epic guitar intro followed by pure Heavy Metal riffs and vocals, has one of those rising chorus tailored to be sung at full force by all fans at their live performances (and Halford might not reach the same notes from the past, but he’s still the Metal God); and the passionate ballad Beginning of the End, with its melancholic intro, has a really nice touch of some very old Priest classics like “Last Rose of Summer” and “Before the Dawn” highlights to Halford’s voice once again, closing the album in a very pleasant way. And don’t miss the deluxe edition, which comes with five extra brand new tracks by the Metal Gods to make things even better.

Judas Priest With Special Guests Black Label Society & Thin Lizzy In ConcertIn summary, the beautiful name of the album, just like the band did many times in the past as in Sad Wings of Destiny (the most beautiful name ever), Angel of Retribution and Defenders of the Faith, together with Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton and Scott Travis kicking some serious ass and the fiery and metallic album art, make Redeemer of Souls a must-have album for any fan of good music – second to none I should say if compared to most releases from any band in the past 10 or 15 years. I hate comparing what a band is currently doing with what they did in the past as I understand time goes by and people inevitably change, but in this case it’s amazing how the Metal Gods were able to “go back in time” without sounding cheesy, repetitive or outdated. Judas Priest might be celebrating 40 years of their debut album Rocka Rolla, released in 1974, but it looks like it’s the fans who are being presented with another great album forged in the fires of true Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Dragonaut, Halls of Valhalla, Sword of Damocles, Hell & Back and Battle Cry.

Worst moments of the album: Cold Blooded might not be bad, but it ends up being the only song not as powerful as the rest of the album.

Released in 2014 Epic Records/Columbia Records

Track listing
1. Dragonaut 4:26
2. Redeemer of Souls 3:58
3. Halls of Valhalla 6:04
4. Sword of Damocles 4:54
5. March of the Damned 3:55
6. Down in Flames 3:56
7. Hell & Back 4:46
8. Cold Blooded 5:25
9. Metalizer 4:37
10. Crossfire 3:51
11. Secrets of the Dead 5:41
12. Battle Cry 5:18
13. Beginning of the End 5:07

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
14. Snakebite 3:14
15. Tears Of Blood 4:19
16. Creatures 4:25
17. Bring It On 3:18
18. Never Forget 6:25

Band members
Rob Halford – vocals
Glenn Tipton – guitar
Richie Faulkner – guitar
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Scott Travis – drums