There has been a lot written about JUDAS PRIEST, most of it good, but some of it pretty bad. And by bad, I mean the stuff that the whiny, never satisfied (see what I did there?) fans love to take to the internet and bitch about. Since 2005’s Angel of Retribution, for every five fans who love what they do, you’ll always have that one that wants to cry about this or that from the safety of their keyboards.Hell, even 2014’s Redeemer of Souls had some of the armchair quarterbacks in an uproar, despite being a kickass record. Well, everyone can come together in 2018 because this is the year of Firepower, the band’s brand new album, out now on Epic Records. And this is a record that is guaranteed to please even the biggest whiners in the fanbase.
As soon as that riff to opener and title track “Firepower” starts, you better strap in and hold on tight, because you’re about to get your fucking face rocked off. The guitar work of Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner means business, The Metal God Rob Halford is singing his ass off, and the rhythm section of Ian Hill (bass) and Scott Travis (drums) are calling down the thunder. And this is just the first in one helluva ride across 14 songs. That’s right, 14!! All killer and no filler is the order of the day, my friends. Next up is “Lightning Strike”, a tune I was instantly enamored with and spent the better part of its release day with it on REPEAT. The leads behind the rhythm are stellar, and the solos are excellent. Can’t wait to hear both of these live soon!
“Evil Never Dies” is a mid-tempo number with a dark riff and thumping bass lines, while Travis’ double kick drums hammer home the chorus. “Never the Heroes” is the latest single and without a doubt one of the record’s best tracks, not just musically but for its message. It’s about young men and women who enter war, not expecting to become heroes, but through their bravery and sacrifice that is exactly what happens. They make so many sacrifices for their fellow soldiers and their country that I defy you not to be moved by this one, which also features a soul stirring guitar solo. “Necromancer” is similar to previous works like “Demonizer”, one those tracks that will have you banging thy head while throwing up the horns, so how can you go wrong?
Now, “Children of the Sun” is really interesting because the groove and riff is kind of different from what we’ve heard up to this point, but it is still very heavy and also undeniably JUDAS PRIEST through and through. This was also an instant favorite for yours truly; I think it might be for some of y’all, too. Halford’s delivery on “Rising From Ruins” is nothing short of inspired, and you can just feel the band taking up the mantle behind him. Then along comes “Flame Thrower’, another one that showcases a buzz saw riff not for the faint of heart, and an ascending hook. Anyone wanna bet whether this will be my ringtone by this time next week?
One of the most unique songs this band has ever composed follows with “Spectre.”Just listen, you’ll see what I’m talking about, especially when that chorus kicks in. And once again axe men Faulkner and Tipton handle their business in a way that keeps you riveted, especially when the goddamn solos start!! Oh, and let’s talk about the chest-thumping ‘Traitors Gate” for a second, yeah? If this isn’t released as a single, somebody needs to be fired…cut and dried. That is it. We’re back on the killer Chorus train for “No Surrender” (not like we ever really left, but this is one of the most striking on the record!). You’re not banging your head when you hear it, you’re dead inside, go away!
Closing this majestic record is “Sea of Red”, which finds the band taking a more subdued approach for much of the song. Halford’s vocals draw you in over acoustic guitars at first, then the band comes crashing in and it becomes very powerful stuff. Overall this is a fantastic JUDAS PRIEST album. And not just because they are one of my favorite bands on the planet. Because it ticks all the right boxes for Heavy Metal greatness, but more importantly it makes me wanna play it over and over again, which is EXACTLY what I’ve been doing. Firepower is 100% my Album of the Year because it is awesome from the first note to the last. Go get it, and get it NOW!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM