REVIEW: Judas Priest – Firepower (2018)

JUDAS PRIEST – Firepower (2018 Sony)

It’s 2018 and the Priest is back.  The excitement for the mighty metal band’s return has been restrained by the knowledge that Glenn Tipton is too ill to tour.  Parkinson’s disease — what a bastard that is.  Co-producer Andy Sneap has stepped up to take over Glenn’s guitar parts on tour.

Meanwhile on album, Glenn’s contributions to Firepower can be heard.  Sneap and classic Priest producer Tom Allom recorded one of the most biting Priest albums to date.  More impressive than the sound they captured are the performances.  Rob Halford in particular is more expressive than he has been in years.

At 14 tracks and almost an hour, Firepower suffers only from too many tracks.  There are a couple that clearly could have been cut and left for B-sides or bonus tracks.  “Flame Thrower” (similar to “Hot For Love” from Turbo), though a cool title, would have been great on a B-side.  On album, I’d rather race ahead to some of the more exciting tracks.

Firepower throws it back to sounds of the past.  Sometimes it’s Painkiller, and sometimes Angel of Retribution.  Rock writer Heavy Metal Overload noticed sonic similarities to Halford’s Resurrection CD.   At other times it’s brand new, because guitarist Richie Faulkner brings new things to the table, such as slide.

There are many highlights among the 14 tracks.  “Evil Never Dies” and “Never the Heroes” both immediately jump out for their melodic mastery.  Rob is sounding better than he has on the last couple, with a few tasty screams to enjoy.  As time goes on, new favourites will replace old.  Perhaps it’ll be “Spectre”, “No Surrender”,  “Children of the Sun”, “Rising From the Ruins” or even “Flame Thrower”!  Another highlight:  mellow album closer “Sea of Red” which bears lyrical similarities to “Blood Red Skies” from 1988’s Ram It Down.  In general, Firepower is about fighting back.

The cover art by Claudio Bergamin is Priest’s new mascot, “Titanicus”.  Silly name aside, this one Priest’s best album cover in decades.  (Mark Wilkinson continues to contribute to the packaging art as well.)  Notice how Bergamin’s lines match up with the style of past Priest albums like Screaming for Vengeance.

It’s hard to imagine a better album this late in their career.  Priest have done it again.  Firepower lives up to its name.

4.5/5 stars

 

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33 comments

  1. the artwork is definitely reminiscent of ‘Screaming’ Heard a few snippets. The melodic songs are grabbing me first. The heavy ones sound like Accept a bit…I need to really listen and hope to hear some old Priest in there.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. True man …as I said in my scribble of Firepower that I usually wait to the Blog Community to write about albums.
        This album I gambled and it paid off..
        Next time may not get so lucky..haha

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review. I haven’t spent enough time with it yet, but I agree 100% with the review. It is one of the best they have done in a long while for me. The past couple years have been seeing the old guys in a lot of bands just bringing it! Glad to see it…I mean hear it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good review all around!

    And agree they needed drop couple tunes bit long in the tooth, while not a fave don’t mind FlameThrower personally woulda ousted LoneWolf first is way too 90’s Metallica IMO…

    NoSurrender RisingFromRuins LighteningStrike NeverTheHeroes TraitorsGate SeaOfRed and the title track this fan’s initial top5… hang on wait… LOL

    Spot on with that rating too Mike \m/

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Depends where in Australia you are mate, Queensland on verge getting hit with more cyclones, some parts as dry as fuck while elsewhere is under water :(

        For the majority ok, thankfully here at home is nice and settled for now LOL.

        Seems the entire world is suffering some drastic weather changes/conditions :(

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  4. Very much in agreement here. (Although I notice you rated Redeemer higher?)

    I don’t think their are any bad songs but I would have liked them to shorten it too. Everyone seems to disagree on best /worst bits though… sign of a good album! I could have lived without Flamethrower for sure. Not so keen on Necromancer either, weak choruses on both of those.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh those darn numerical ratings. Always coming back to bite me in the ass! I did like Redeemer a lot but then I found a period where I kind of forgot that album.

      Necromancer, you’re right — although I do dig the riff, the chorus is below par. Flamethrower is, weirdly, growing on me….

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a killer this turned out to be. I hold this album as their best since the oh so underrated Turbo (great songs, weak production). In my book, Painkiller and Screaming For Vengeance seems to have been the template for the song writing and production.
    I’m working on my JP review as I write this.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I remember being impressed with Halford’s lyrics on British Steel – encouraging to hear he’s expressive here too.
    Nice point about expectations of an album at a stage of a career – and nice to hear they exceeded those expectations!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I need to spend a bit of time with this one, but the W thi from folks who have listened to it a few times is encouraging. Initial gripe from me is the runtime.

    Like

  8. Nice review man! I don’t know if I can knock it for having too many songs since I haven’t tired of any yet. My tune might change after a few days. It is an overly long album but I wouldn’t want any of the songs cut… a bit of a double edge sword, I guess.

    Like

  9. Thanks for the review, Mike. The love for this new album is nearly unanimous around the web. Can’t wait to buy it next month.

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  10. I bought 3 tickets before I knew glenn tipton was not going on tour>>>>THEY PLAY ONLY 3 SONGS 0FF NEW ALBUM……..if I want to see or hear those old priest songs I would break out all those old priest albums and dvd of those old tours and songs I HAVE HERE 3 TICKETS THAT I CAN NOT SELL AND YES YOU CAN BET I WILL THROW THEM AWAY JUST AINT THE SAME WITH OUT GLENN THERE WATCH SNEED IS HE REALY PLAYING 3 TICKETS FOR BOK 26 APRIL DISCOUNT PRICE HERE IF YOU WANT THEM???? $80 dollar a piece I gave they are cheaper on line, old man cant sing raspy old dry voice sad to see that we are all getting OLD TOO..

    Like

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