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.