Review: Judas Priest- Firepower

The band Judas Priest has undergone some pretty major changes in the last 5 to 10 years. First off was founding member K.K. Downing stepping down and being replaced by Richie Faulkner, followed by the passing of drummer Dave Holland in 2018, but more recently came the shocking news that longtime guitarist Glen Tipton was stepping aside due to complications with his Parkinson disease. Tipton will be replaced by longtime friend of the band Andy Sneap, and the rest of the band- Rob Halford vocals, founding bassist Ian Hill and longtime drummer Scott Travis- are all back and in rare form. The band’s newest effort- “Firepower” continues on the momentum the “Redeemer of Souls” album started and never lets up. Much like their last couple of efforts the double kick drum in title track “Firepower” is intense and the guitar work knows no bounds. On “Lightning Strikes” Rob Halford sounds just like he did in the 70’s which gives their sound a certain stability and base. Meanwhile, “Evil Never Dies” and “Rising from Ruins” both have a crunch heavy guitar that drives the songs along with copious amounts of double kick drumming. “Never the Hero” sounds like Priest did 20 years ago and is driven by the bass guitar while “Necromancer” is another one where the guitars and drums propel the song forward at breakneck speed. Then they slow things down on “Children of the Sun” to let the listener take it all in and while you’re mellow take in the slow piano introduction of “Guardians” before it all comes crumbling down in a flurry of speed. On “Flame Thrower,” Halford’s voice sounds like if was lifted from the “Hell Bent for Leather” recording sessions while “Spectre” has a very slow and deliberate guitar groove that drives the song home. At the same time the slow into of “Traitors Gate” gives no warning of the absolutely devastating riffs that are yet to come and the back and forth guitars in the solo are truly mind boggling. Halford’s absolutely stellar vocals drive “No Surrender” while “Lone Wolf” has a slow 1930’s groove to it. Like it came straight from an old speakeasy and “Sea of Red” is an absolutely stunning ballad that has an old school vibe to it and some of the best solos ever to appear on any Judas Priest record to date. Here’s the bottom line- The band sounds rejuvenated and the playing displayed is absolutely top notch. Nearly 50 years into an incredible career, the band seem poised to teach us something new and exciting. Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Eric Hunker