Judas Priest are legends in the metal and hard rock realms. Coming together in 1969 and releasing their full-length debut in 1974, they have been touring and releasing music for 45 years now. Most bands would celebrate and fade away at this point, but they still have a drive to create new music and perform it for the masses. Known for the famous leather and chained appearances, Judas Priest are one of the first bands to truly embody the darkened look of heavy metal. Sound has always been where they follow through with punchy riffs, stout drums, scaling solos, and the amazing vocal range of lead singer Rob Halford. Despite the years the band has put in, not all records have turned out great. Nostradamus was a major disappointment for the hordes of Priest fans and almost tarnished their great legacy. Redeemer of Souls still has some problems, but this is a great comeback nonetheless.
The sounds equation for Judas Priest has not changed over the years. There are strong lead and rhythm guitars buzzing all over the record, and Richie Faulkner has equated himself well in replacing K. K. Downing. The differences are almost indistinguishable in every sense, especially the massive solo and crunchy riff work. Drums are solid throughout as well, always becoming a driving force of nature. The real question is always whether Halford can keep up the vocal work after 45 years. While he clearly does not have the range present in songs like “Painkiller,” Halford is still a legend and equips the record with solid work. Some of the songs could use more pop from his end, but the song writing and overall sound makes up for it.
There are some note-worthy tracks to announce that Judas Priest still have something left in the tank. “Halls of Valhalla” is classic and motivated Priest, being the biggest experiment of the track listing. The track opens slowly with heavy riffs and powerful drums, while Halford belts out some solid screams and low-registered vocals. The real winner is the writing and story being told, taking the listener on a grand journey. “March of the Damned” is a solid anthem for the band’s followers; the guitar lead is crunchy and packs a punch, while a late solo and boisterous drums take over the song. “Hell & Back” is the best statement on the record, speaking to the group’s long road and survival. The energy coming off the lyrics are palpable while the instrumentation matches the fun tone as well. The best thing a band can do is end an album on the best song, which Judas Priest pull off with “Beginning of the End.” It is not plausible that this will be the last song they will ever record together, but it would be a grand bow out. Being the only ballad of the main track listing, it comes out of nowhere building up slowly and allowing Halford to show off his vocal talent on full display. The lyrics are intimate and sharp for fans, elevating the track to become something Priest fans would never expect, sweet and soulful.
There are a few bumps in the road as well though. Despite only having one truly bad song, there is a mob of songs that are hard to get into. “Secrets of the Dead” is the most disappointing track, never really reaching enough energy until the last minute and relying on vocals that are mixed too low. “Down In Flames” has similar building issues never really coming to life until the very end. The title track of the album is fairly average, with instrumentation that is mixed much too high for the vocals to have a real say. That is the main problem with Redeemer of Souls as a whole. A lot of the tracks are either poorly mixed to a point that it kills the vibe or simply have too weak of a chorus for this type of music.
Judas Priest have come back with one of their best records in the last decade. Not only does Redeemer of Souls feature some old school sound fans would be expecting, it also throws a few wrenches into the mix as well. The lyrics about longevity are meaningful and make great statements about the heavy metal legends. Sure, there are a few disappointing tracks and mixing can become an issue, but after 45 years, Judas Priest are still rocking just as hard as on their first day together. Many bands wish they could say the same.
2. Redeemer of Souls
3. Halls of Valhalla
4. Sword of Damocles
5. March of the Damned
6. Down In Flames
7. Hell & Back
8. Cold Blooded
11. Secrets of the Dead
12. Battle Cry
13. Beginning of the End