REVIEW: Judas Priest – Battle Cry (2016)

NEW RELEASE

Scan_20160407JUDAS PRIEST – Battle Cry (2016 Sony)

Woah-ho!  Here comes the Priest with yet another live album!  How many does this make it?  Officially that’s six, not including live discs within deluxe editions, or live DVDs!  Battle Cry is the newest, recorded last year at Wacken (August 1 2015).

Some fans like to moan and complain every time an older band like Priest or Maiden release a live album.  You can see their point, but at the same time, how much longer will Priest be touring?  Don’t you want a live album with all their newest songs?  Priest’s last album, 2014’s Redeemer of Souls, was a triumphant return for the band, who had suffered a major lineup change.  KK Downing was out, and new kid Richie Faulkner was surprisingly able to take his place on the stage, and in the songwriting.  Rather than suffer from this blow, Priest simply kept going full speed ahead.  A live album is compulsory after this much activity.  Three of the new songs are included on the disc, in among a smattering of classics, but nothing from Nostradamus (2008) or Angel of Retribution (2005).  Fear not; you can get some of those songs on the live CD A Touch of Evil.

Here is a handy-dandy chart to show you where these songs originated, not counting intros “Battle Cry” and “The Hellion”.

priest chart

You’ll notice a huge 23 year gap in the music presented.  This isn’t uncommon for rock bands of Priest’s age.  There are so many classics, not to mention new songs to play, but not enough time.  As such, albums from later periods, or “cult” songs, are often overlooked.  The unfortunate effect of this is an unspoken implication that maybe the music between 1990 and 2014 wasn’t very good.  Now granted, Priest did have a lineup change during that period.  From 1997-2004, they were with singer Ripper Owens, and Priest have yet to revisit any of that material.

Proving that nothing has been lost with the departure of Downing, “Dragonaut” opens the show on a fast heavy note.  Faulkner is a perfect fit, acting in unison with Glenn Tipton to produce the same kind of Priest guitarmonies that you’re used to hearing.  “Halls of Valhalla”, another new track, rocks just as hard, but with the complexity of the Priest of yesteryear.  The musical chops of this band often go overlooked, but just listen to them play.  As for Halford?  He ain’t no spring chicken, but his singing style has changed to suit.  Within that framework, the man is a demon.  He can still do things with his voice that few can.  The final new song is “Redeemer of Souls”, a little stiff by comparison but certainly up to snuff.

A few lesser-played songs really spice up the set.   “Devil’s Child” from Screaming For Vengeance is a treat, and “Jawbreaker” from Defenders of the Faith is a nice switch up from “Freewheel Burning”.   Wacken probably would have rioted if songs like “Breaking the Law” and “Metal Gods” were not played, so of course you can count on the hits being represented.  A long guitar solo and instrumental section during “Another Thing Coming” is another surprise.  Halford used to do a long singalong at this point of the show, but that’s been shortened in favour of a pretty damn cool Richie Faulkner guitar solo.   Way to give the spotlight to the new kid — that is really classy.

Because there’s not enough time on a single disc, “Living After Midnight”, the final encore of the show, was axed.  Instead, “Painkiller” ends this CD, certainly an interesting choice for a closer.  This is the only song during which Rob’s voice can’t keep up.  The song is just insane; it always has been, and you can’t fault the guy for not quite getting there.

Battle Cry is yet another in a long string of great live Judas Priest albums.  Shoulda woulda coulda been a double CD.  The only two songs missing from this show are “Turbo Lover” and “Living After Midnight”, but wouldn’t you prefer having them?

3.75/5 stars

 

 

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17 comments

  1. Not overly interested in Priest these days so I passed on this. But I did watch a few of the tracks from the DVD on Youtube and they were good versions. Rob seemed in better form physically and vocally than he did when I last saw them.
    But making this a single CD and not, at the very least, packaging it together with the DVD/BR is just crap. I might have bought that!

    Liked by 2 people

        1. I don’t know your routine, but it is so easy to sit and work with the radio on, or write with a CD on, or just read with a CD on. Can’t do those things with a video!!!

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        2. It’s primarily CD for me. Given that when Maiden release their next DVD, then GIMME GIMME GIMME. But I hope a live CD is on the horizon more than a DVD, you know what I mean?

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  2. I have this (thanks Mr. Books II!)! As soon as I heard about it, it was a must, because I missed them when they came around on this tour and I’d really wanted to go. Ah well.

    I’d say that bringing in a new guy to replace Downing, a guy who can fill the shoes very well, wasn’t much of a blow except personally for the band (a friend had left). But if the music isn’t suffering, carry on!

    One wonders if later there’ll be another release, including the missing songs. They should have packaged it together with the DVD, which would have had space for all the songs, at the very least.

    Still. Right on! \m/ \m/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you liked my chart too :)

      Well you know as a singer ages, the voice always changes, that’s just nature. When it’s a singer like Cohen it gives him more husk and gravitas I think. But for a singer who is more known as a powerhouse, it’s so much more difficult. Some bands like Journey want to play only in the original key of the song, they don’t want to have to lower it because the singer can’t do it anymore. They have a high burnout factor for singers. Their manager once said a singer in Journey can only do three albums tops and then he’s burned out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I most definitely enjoyed the graph!
        I remember liking Joni Mitchell’s version of Both sides now done a few decades after the original, I like your word gravitas, it certainly added that to the track.
        I appreciate when singers work within their limitations with age – it’s like with hockey. When one of my heroes, Steve Yzerman, kept having knee issues, he changed his game. He was no longer the same offensive player, but he transformed into a tremendous two-way player that played so well positionally.
        Or like how the good, veteran squash players barely move – they position the ball so well they let the youngin’s wear themselves out running around!

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  3. I wouldn’t guess from the cover that this was an official release, y’know. Anyhoo, rather peculiar that there’s nothing from Angel of Retribution or Nostradamous, eh? Dare I say it sounds like it’d be worth waiting on the ‘Deluxe’ that’ll no doubt surface at some point!

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  4. Nice write-up! I saw the tour in Detroit and was pleasantly surprised how well Faulkner had asserted himself into the band. Every time i looked to his side of the stage it was like looking at a young K.K….quite eerie but he absolutely smoked!!
    As for the need to do a live album…i don’t see the point unless they felt compelled to chronicle this phase of the band’s career.
    I looove the Priest but am bored to tears with their setlist in general. However, I was elated to hear Jawbreaker and Devil’s Child added in for the die-hards!
    The last live Priest album I bought was Priest Live back around 87 or 88…and I think that it will stay the last.

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  5. Mike, excellente review, we can see you are a really Pries fan… me too!
    Like you say it’s a happiness to see our old band touring and screaming (despite the many many years)
    Cheers from Perú
    PS: I am going to Cabin Mary to drink pisco and listen Judas with Crazy Zarate, PP Jarra, Arturo, Alvaro, Scooter & the other drinkers and music lovers…

    Liked by 1 person

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