Style: Heavy Metal forefathers
Similar bands: RAM, Ambush, Axxion
Release date: 09.03.2018
Label: Epic Records
As a longtime supporter of a band, the question for the quality of a new record always leads to an inner conflict. Will you try to be objective, or will the fanboy instinct automatically take over and you’ll emphasize the positive sides of the album only, even if you know deep inside, that it is again not the big hit you hoped for? Fortunately, this question does not arise with “Firepower”!
If you exclude “Demolition” (“Jugulator” was not that bad after all!) and the experimental “Nostradamus”, JUDAS PRIEST have never released a really weak album (even if an album like “Turbo” would only become a favorite for many fans very late). But what all albums have had in common since Rob Halford’s return to the band, is that annoying feeling that PRIEST could actually do better, but fail to forge that ability into gripping and rousing albums. Of course, a few songs of recent years have the potential to become future classics, but you could not say that of a complete album for a long time.
Regarding the enthusiasm to record a soon-to-be classic album (should that have lacked in the past), the Metal gods seem to have found that again now. Whether this is a merit of the not-any-longer-newcomer Richie Faulkner, or whether the Metal-proven producer duo Andy Sneap and Tom Allom were the motivating factor, is actually secondary. It’s a fact, that the versatile songs on “Firepower” are on fire and a lot of fun again. Songs like “Lightning Strike” and “Evil Never Dies” show emulators like RAM, who is the real shit.
But what exactly makes album number 18 different and better as a whole, compared to the rather streaky albums of the last years? It is the permanent grin on the listener’s face! Because he is more than happy about the best-of character of the record, as it combines many strengths and stylistic elements of the long and succesful career of the band. In addition to the Hard Rock of the early phase and the Heavy Metal of the glorious days, even the modern “Jugulator” / “Demolition” phase gets its second chance in songs like “Necromancer” and “Lone Wolf”. A very clear part in the resurgence of the band, of course, plays the Metal God himself, who’s voice sounds much better than on the last albums.
Although you will not find an enormous ear worm like “Breaking the Law” or “Living After Midnight” on the album, songs like “Never the Heroes”, “No Surrender” and “Flame Thrower” have the potential to be exactly that. And maybe in some years someone will write a review with the words “Although you will not find an enormous ear worm like JUDAS PRIEST’s “Flame Thrower” on the album …”.
Unfortunately, after K. K. Downing, Glenn Tipton can no longer travel with the band now, too. That makes the band’s future as uncertain as it was when Rob Halford left them in the 90s. If “Firepower” turns out to be JUDAS PRIEST’s swan song, it would be a worthy conclusion to a great story.