An Album Review of Judas Priest's Redeemer of Souls
written by Cāngkù Shísān
Upon releasing this album in 2014, it had been six years since the last Priest record, Nostradamus, a rock opera following the life of the legendary seer over two full-throttle discs. Both loved and hated, Nostradamus was the last album for founding guitarist K.K Downing, and many thought it could be the last Priest record. They were wrong.
With Redeemer Of Souls, Judas Priest went back to what they know best: simple, full throttle metal. It’s almost an ungodly mix between their classic Painkiller (1990) and reunion album Angel Of Retribution (2005), and boy does it work! Dragonaut, a typical priest song about an imaginary beast, smashes the album open with a real statement of metal intent. The title track follows, bringing a more Maiden-esque feel to the album. This one isn’t as instant as the opener, but it soon grows on you.
Halls Of Valhalla and Sword Of Damocles also take a while to click with the listener, though once they do you realise quite how strong these four opening tracks are, though the former has more of a Priest feel, where as Damocles feels a little like unfamiliar territory.
March Of The Damned is in no way a bad track, just weak. It has never grown on me quite like it seems to have grown on others. Maybe I’m just missing something, I don’t know, but compared to the tracks before it isn’t as good.
The next three are possibly the weakest, with Down In Flames being the saving grace. Hell & Back and Cold Blooded are frankly forgettable: maybe they should have been removed, leaving us an 11 track album?
Metalizer is practically a sequel to the opening track, a more thrash metal approach with fantastic results! This track rocks hard, making the sudden, slower Crossfire somewhat of a let down, though it is a strong track on its own.
Secrets Of The Dead seems to be something that was conceived during their rock opera outing back in 2008, never quite getting going and never feeling like it’s meant to be there. Fear not, however; the next track is classic priest (and every fan seems to agree with me!) Battle Cry spawned another live album, taking on a life of its own, telling the story of the ideal image of a soldier: patriotic, unafraid. Everything everyone knows is untrue about war. Yet at the end they reveal the truth, the sacrifice a soldier has made. It’s beautiful in every way.
Beginning Of The End is a moving closer, though it saddens Priest fans. Maybe this is the end? Forty years of heavy metal mania might be coming to a close. But, as it says in the inlay notes, here’s to ‘heavy metal forever’.
With metal, it’s never just the music. This album is a solid, unflinching Priest record that every fan should own. It’s a definition of metal through the years. But the album art is frankly beautiful. Just search ‘Judas Priest Redeemer Of Souls album cover’ on Google. It’s a thing of true beauty.
So if you end up buying this album, I do recommend paying that extra little bit for the cardboard case with the bonus disc. It has five bonus tracks, two of which (Snakebite and Bring It On) feel like they’ve crawled right out of the classic Priest back catalogue, the other three being entertaining additions. But most of all, the art literally glows. Each page is an explosion if colour and art. Everything is done so perfectly, down to the very little details; the burning Judas Priest symbol, the shining planet, the glimmer on the soldier’s sword.
The whole thing is the definition of metal and, despite the fact not every track is perfect, I cannot recommend it enough. Maybe it’s not as consistent as Painkiller, but it’s certainly one maniacal journey!
Dragonaut/Redeemer Of Souls/Halls Of Valhalla/Sword Of Damocles/March Of The Damned/Down In Flames/Hell & Back/Cold Blooded/Metalizer/Crossfire/Secrets Of The Dead/Battle Cry/Beginning Of The End Bonus Disc Snakebite/Tears Of Blood/Creatures/Bring It On/Never Forget
5 out of 5