OK, I can’t keep this behind my digital teeth any longer (Digital Teeth. Good name for a band)
The new Judas Priest record is insanely good. It’s exactly the sort of record fans of vintage heavy metal want to hear. The production is clean, clear, crisp and sounds like it was laid down in a million dollar studio. The guitars (perhaps the last to feature Glenn working his magic) are that wonderful mix of uplifting distortion crunch and fast fingered playing that make the heavy metal records of the 1980’s the ones the genre eternally looks back to for stylistics and for that sense of fun.
As for Rob Halford’s vocals? Well he is Rob Halford. So they are loud, clear, ferocious and melodic all at once. There is a very good reason he’s known by the metal community as The MG or Metal God. Rob Halford is one of the reasons heavy metal is what it is and what it has been since the late 1960’s. You gotta love him.
Subjectively we’ve got some classic Heavy Metal imagery at play. We’re talking;
“The die is cast make no exceptions we are forged by evil to compel”
I had a chat with a friend of mine at a show last weekend. His opinion was that this song is a pro-NRA anthem about how “freedom equals guns”. He said in this day and age it was hard to support this kind of a record if it could be interpreted as such. I told him to get the stick out of his arse and that you cannot blame metal music for societies ills. You couldn’t when the PMRC were having a pop and you still can’t now.
If you listen to the album as a whole there seems to be a militaristic theme. One which ends on the plaintive Sea Of Red. If you take Firepower as a track in its own right. I hear heavy metal heritage making the finest kinds of noises. Noises which connoisseurs of the genre will delight in hearing again made up once more into another new composition.
If you were looking for the politics of a bygone era in which violence is glorified over the sanctity of life you might find it in the one track here (if that’s what you came to the party looking for). If you also believe the band are pro crime thanks to Breaking The Law, pro beheading thanks to Some Heads Are Gonna Roll, pro night shift work thanks to Living After Midnight, pro psychopaths with Evil Fantasies and pro everyone being killed by machines thanks to Killing Machine then maybe you need to separate your political straw men from your albums with paintings of monsters on the front.
It would be just as easy to argue the band are all about supporting your local industry (British Steel), unification of the church (Defenders of the Faith), the importance of multiple orgasms (You’ve Got Another Thing Coming) and accepting other people’s peccadilloes (Hell Bent For Leather). I’m going to bat for this band. Judas Priest have had a varied and fascinating career. They’ve pushed boundaries and defined sounds. They’ve delighted millions and they’ve always been a unique proposition. I’ll get my tickets for the next London show and can’t wait to see them again.
This is Heavy Metal music. This is how it’s meant to sound. This particular release is just as fine as can be.