Judas Priest New Album “Redeemer of Souls”. Do they still have it?

Redeemer of Souls is the latest (and possibly last) studio album by legendary Metal band Judas Priest. Their first album since 2008’s “Nostradamus” and first album without founding lead Guitarist K.K Downing (who retired in 2011, now replaced by Richie Faulkner). With the loss of Downing and lead Vocalist Rob Halford now 63 years old, there was somewhat of a cautious optimism among fans on how good this album would be and whether or no it would hold up to Judas Priest standards.

Jumping into the album listeners do notice that Rob has scaled back on belting out his high pitched singing that could be heard in his earlier work. Instead on “Redeemer of Souls”, he has settled for a deeper sound while still channeling a few high pitched moments. You can’t be upset with Robs vocals considering he has been singing for over 40 years which has taken quite a toll on his voice and yet he still has the same tone and power as when he first started. The shift in his voice can be noticed when comparing the new track “Metalizer” to “The Sentinel” off of the bands 1984 album “Defenders of Faith”

You can notice Robs higher pitch and tone in “Sentinel” and how he lowered his tone in “Metalizer”, however one can argue that he wanted the album to have a different sound and because of that went into recording with a heavier voice track in mind. Knowing the work Rob has put out and his range in general, it should be no challenge for him as he has put out plenty of songs with a less high pitched voice, such as “Breaking the Law” off of the bands 1980 album “British Steel” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L397TWLwrUU or “Defenders of the Faith” off of the aforementioned album of the same name. Anyway, as listeners make their way down the track list, they know that they are listening to Rob Halford and despite his age and the 6 years between albums, his vocals still hold up today. As far as lyrical content goes, it is still the same of Judas priest. Each song entertains, and tells a story. Whether that story is of a powerful being as seen with Metalizer, some sort of cataclysmic event or even a power ballad, either way the tracks should get the listeners heart pumping, unless they lack a pulse.

Next up is the sound of the lead guitar. The difference between listening to K.K Downing and Richie Faulkner is apparent as Richies’ sound seems to be much more in comparison with modern the sound of today’s hard rock/metal sound. Not to say that this is really a bad thing, as Faulkner’s playing is very well done (reminding me of Kirk Hammet’s sound for Metallica), just that the listener can notice the change in lead guitar. To take an example, the solo from the track “Battle Cry” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ss5uhrzXI-s)  and compare it to the solo from “Painkiller” (same album name) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM__lPTWThU) you can clearly hear the difference.

To answer the question does Judas Priest still have it? The answer is a clear Yes. Giving the listener 18 tracks (2 CDs) of  Hard Rockin and Head bangin Judas Priest after thoughts that the band had hung up their instruments and called it a career (while that is true for Downing) the album does not disappoint. Despite some changes with Halfords voice and Downings’ retirement, Judas Priest came together and put out an album that, while not as strong as their previous work (but how many 40-50 year old bands top the work they put out in their prime) is still very well done and worth listening to. Overall I rate this album a 3.5/5, well worth becoming a part of any Metal heads collection.

Anthony DeVito

Hunter College Student.