Judas Priest’s new album Redeemer of Souls is one of the top new hard rock and metal albums of 2014. As a matter of fact, it is, in this critic’s eyes (and ears) a contender for the top spot on said list. The only other album that can even come close right now to vying for that spot is Black Label Society’s Catacombs of the Black Vatican. What makes Redeemer of Souls such a top notch album despite its slightly touchy production is its mix of music and lyrics. Musically, this album has been likened to previous hit Priest albums including: British Steel, Nostradamus, and Painkiller just to name a few. That it could be compared in such positive light to so many other of the band’s releases is a statement in and of itself. Lyrically, it covers some interesting themes throughout the course of its thirteen tracks and sixty-two minutes. One of those themes is of standing up for what one believes. That topic comes in the album’s fourth track ‘Sword of Damocles.’ Another interesting topic is that of the tribute paid to the fans of sorts in the album’s lead single ‘March of the Damned.’ Late in the album, front man Rob Halford and his band mates cover an interesting topic in ‘’Hell & Back.’ The topic in question is one of the band’s survival through the years. Or it would seem so at least. Regardless, its lyrics and music together make for one more prime example of why Redeemer of Souls is one of this year’s top two new hard rock and metal albums. That argument is made even stronger through the two songs noted before it and through those pieces not noted. Altogether, this album is proof that Judas Priest is still one of the most dominant forces in the world of hard rock today.
Judas Priest has proven without a shadow of a doubt on its new album that it is still one of the most dominant forces in the world of hard rock today. It has done so through an album that is easily one of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums in Redeemer of Souls. One example of why this album deserves such recognition comes early on in the album in the form of ‘Sword of Damocles.’ Musically, it is a full on, rocker that comes across as being about false leaders and standing up for one’s own beliefs. As audiences will hear, front man Rob Halford sings here, “When men lead by words that are false as they preach/Fatality waits in the wings/Surrounded by fools behind walls that are breached/Beware of the jester that sings.” Right there, audiences are led to infer that Halford and company are singing about said false leaders. And those leaders don’t necessarily have to include religious leaders, either. They can include political leaders, too. Halford and company go on to sing, “Stand tall/Rise up/Stay strong/Fighting your enemies/Truth will find its reward/If you live and die by the sword/The whispers can’t hide when the tongues are let loose.” Listeners might get from this verse a message of not giving up against certain insurmountable odds. They come across as telling audiences don’t just give in like sheep to the words of those false leaders and to stand up to said leaders and those that would harass an individual for having views other than their own. This could very well be the wrong interpretation. It is merely the interpretation of one single critic. If it is at least somewhere in the ballpark though, it once again serves as solid proof of why this record is one of the year’s top two new hard rock and metal albums.
‘Sword of Damocles’ is just one many examples of what makes Redeemer of Souls one of the top new hard rock and metal albums of 2014. With its mix of adrenaline-fueled music and thought provoking lyrics, this song is an instant hit. The album’s lead single, ‘March of the Damned,’ is just as solid a choice for a single. As guitarist Glenn Tipton explains, this song is simply about the fans that come to the band’s shows. There’s no deep, hidden message for the religious right wingers to hunt for. It is for all intents and purposes a tribute to those fans. Halford sings against the song’s driving guitars and drums, “Can’t stop us/They don’t know why/They try/Can’t hurt us/We’ll never die/We are on the march of the damned…We know what’s at stake/Won’t take your mistakes/Won’t break us/We’ll never fall/That’s all/It’s over/Just watch us crawl.” Referencing Tipton’s statement about the song again, these lyrics illustrate quite well exactly what he was saying. They come across as a collective statement from the band’s fans saying that they don’t care what anyone says. They are fans for life. It is easy to see why this anthem was chosen as the album’s lead single. It’s a powerful statement from an album that could be the last from one of metal’s most legendary bands.
‘March of the Damned’ is a powerful statement from the members of Judas Priest. It puts expertly into words the devotion of the band’s fans regardless of their fans’ ages. It’s especially fitting that there’s no telling whether or not this will be the band’s last album, especially considering that some years ago, Halford and his band mates said they were through touring. Yet once more the band has in fact hit the road in support of another album. Speaking of being on the road, ‘Hell & Back’ will have audiences wondering if perhaps this tour will be the band’s last. Halford ruminates on the band’s past here, singing, “Still in the land of the living/Rocking the home of the brave/Staying alive and still kicking/Ain’t got no need to be saved/Out of the fire and into the black/We’ve been through it all/We’ve been to hell and back.” The song’s musical side is not the high-powered, straight forward piece that the previously noted songs prove to be. But set against the song’s lyrics, one can clearly see the song’s chorus and verses play out clearly in one’s own mind. That clarity will again lead one to wonder about the band’s future after this album and tour. If it proves to be the last for the band on both counts, then this song will have proven to be one more powerful statement from the band. And along with each of the album’s other songs—both noted and not—it is one part of a whole that is easily one of the top two new hard rock and metal albums of the year.
Judas Priest will kick off the U.S. leg of its tour in support of Redeemer of Souls this fall beginning Wednesday, October 1st in Rochester, NY. The band’s current tour schedule is listed online along with all of the latest news from the band at http://www.facebook.com/OfficialJudasPriest, http://twitter.com/judaspriest, and http://www.judaspriest.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.