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Monday, December 05, 2022
The pull of this album comes from the complexity and variety of symphonic layers offered alongside its stunning vocals.

The pull of this album comes from the complexity and variety of symphonic layers offered alongside its stunning vocals.

Judas Priest’s latest release is perhaps their best album yet

Being in a band that steadily produces good music for a decade is an accomplishment of epic proportions. Doing so for 50 years seems downright impossible, yet with an absolute masterpiece of a project, Judas Priest returns in peak form with their 18th album titled Firepower.

You would expect a metal band to age, at best, in a way that does not detract from their artistic capability. However, Judas Priest and its ensemble of rock gods have only gotten better with age. The project’s thunderous scale and furry of hard-hitting metal paces itself well over 14 tracks, clocking in at just under an hour.

The project’s opening track, “Firepower,” puts on full display the band’s strengths that aptly fits the album’s over the top artwork. The great callback of this album is to an absurdly awesome genre of music that fans of any style of rock will appreciate.

The power of imagery and ability to assume the role of a varied ensemble of characters make for an eerily enjoyable variation, be it as a demonic wizard on the fittingly atmospheric track “Necromancer” or a diabolical beast flaying the face of a demon on “Lightning Strike.”

The real pull of this album, however, is the complexity and variety of symphonic layers offered alongside its stunning vocals. Rob Hafford, the lead vocalist, has developed a voice with such character and force he fully emulates the intended demonic tone that carries this album throughout its playtime.

As for the band’s throttling guitar riffs, dueling solos and layers of sinister vocals, the word flawless is an understatement for what Judas Priest achieves on this record.

From its menacing themes and explosive content, the project is intertwined with excellent levels of theatrics that propels the listening experience into new territory. What makes metal such a compelling genre of music is its ability to sample from practically any genre of music. From the jazz ruminant opening of “Flame Thrower” to the vertical flip and phases of chorus shown on “Lone Wolf,” the band puts metal’s versatility on full display.

There are only so many ways to articulate the mastery on display within this project, from its diabolically high octane guitars to the nuclear bombardment of drums. The lyrical nods in “Evil Never Dies,” with quotes such as “The devil's moved from Georgia,” rewards listeners who pay attention to what is being said.

Tracks like “Traitors Gate,” “Specter” and “Children of the Sun” get a bit predictable, though. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but I would have appreciated a bit more exploration into the speed metal territory that Judas has captured on their earlier works. Most importantly, tracks like “Guardians” and “Sea of Red” provide needed breaths in between the constant thrashing with more melodic ballads.

In review, fans of metal may find this to be one of the best metal albums of the decade — I know I do. Even more so, this is one of the better albums Judas Priest has ever released. As for readers who are cautious but willing to expand their discography into new territory, Firepower is a great entry point to earn your horns.

Final Grade: A

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