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Sunday, 20 July 2014


I love Def Leppard, always have, and always will.  Ever since my older brother came home with 1983's Pyromania I've been hooked.  But something has been nagging at me for many years now.  Why are they not mentioned in the same conversations with the likes of the Stones, Floyd and Zeppelin?  Don't forget, this is a band that has sold over 100 million records worldwide and endured enough personal tragedy that would break most bands.  But Leppard are survivors.  Right from the moment they formed in the spoon factory near Bramall Lane, Sheffield, a city famed for it's world renowned cutlery, their mission was to trade knives 'n' forks for rock 'n' roll.

Having sold in excess of 10 million copies of Pyromania and 12 million of 1987's Hysteria, in US alone, this surely puts them in the same league as rocks superpowers.  But Leppard were part of the MTV 80's rock generation that spawned the likes of Poison, Cinderella and Motley Crue.  They were sneered at, looked down upon and downright hated by the so-called music intellectuals.  They got lumped in with that group.

But things started to change in the early 1990's when Nirvana and the rest of grunge brigade came along and blew any band with a pair of spandex and a can of hairspray out of the water.  But Leppard faced them all down, and went in a darker direction with the release of the album Slang.  Though not commercially successful, it showcased the bands versatility and set them apart from a lot of the bands of their genre.  So where is the difference between them and the aforementioned bands?  Longevity?, no, 37 years and counting. Album sales?, no, they hold their own in that department.  Song content?, possibly, Leppard aren't exactly known for social awareness in their songs.  Mind you, I'm pretty sure Brown Sugar isn't about the preservation of the North American Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.  And, I'm fairly confident Black Dog isn't about Jimmy Page's poodle.  Granted, they didn't break any real new ground with their brand of music,but is that really a factor, I think not.

Ever since Leppard burst onto the scene they've always maintained a level of success that a lot of bands who were lauded about never could.  People still kneel at the alter of 60's super group Cream.  Fair enough, they did produce memorable moments like White Room, Sunshine of Your Love, etc.,but come on, they lasted all of two years.  Maybe it's because Leppard never wore the hell raiser tag, riding Harley's through hotel corridors or having incidents with groupies and dead fish (google that one).  My gut feeling is because of musical snobbery they will never get the real credit that they genuinely deserve.  But judging by their recent residency in Las Vegas, and this summers North American co-headline tour with Kiss, their stance as one of the worlds biggest ever rock bands shows no signs of waning.

Saturday, 12 July 2014


Six years is a long time to wait for any album, but six years to wait for a new Judas Priest album is a lifetime. Back after 2008's ambitious Nostradamus record,  Redeemer of Souls represents a return to form from the midland legends.  This is largely due to the recruitment of new axeman, Richie Faulkner, who replaced longtime guitarist KK Downing in 2011.  His input on this album has given the band a new lease of life and has recaptured the true spirit of Priest.  

Unlike the last album, there is no concept here, just an in your face, ball's to the wall metal album.  Dragonaut kicks things off with a bang of pure intent, with a classic Priest riff and Halford's voice at its menacing best, it's sure to be a set opener.  The title track, is a no frills anthem with a rebel rousing chorus that is sure to have the metal faithful fist pumping for their lives.  Like every Priest album there's a standout gem, and Halls of Valhalla certainly doesn't disappoint, opening with a beautiful melodic riff that gradually ascends into mayhem with a almost demonic scream of 'Valhalla'.  Warning, do not play this with the light's off.

Sword of Damocles has a very Celtic feel, almost Lizzy-like, with Tipton and Faulkner going toe to toe with military precision.  March of the Damned could easily be mistaken for an Ozzy track but still retains all the vital elements of Priest.  Down in Flames and Hell & Back are no nonsense belters, with the latter opening with Hill's furious bass line and Travis's thunderous drums.  Is there a finer back line in music today?....doubt it.

Metalizer delivers like a size 14 jackboot to the teeth, and is relentless to the very end. Crossfire sees the guys' get their blues swagger on, with it's fiendish guitars and addictive chorus, this is one of the highlights on the album.  Battle Cry is five minutes of sun kissed metal and sets the picture of hordes of bloodthirsty warriors cascading over the hills into furious battle.  Beginning of the End is a fitting end to the record, with it's slow yet haunting pace.

As I touched on earlier, the appointment of Faulkner has injected a youthful exuberance back into the band and that clearly plays out on this record.  So do yourselves a favour, go and buy this album and play it to your families, friends, neighbours, pets, whoever, and keep the metal flag flying high because metal is back, more to the point, Judas Priest are back.