Judas Priest – Firepower [album review]

Commentary, Music

Firepower, the latest offering from heavy metal pioneers Judas Priest, is nothing short of epic.

The title song is a monster of a track, with jackhammer drums and scorching guitars; Halford’s gleeful delivery elevates lines like “Empty the chamber / Lock and reload / This world thrives on danger / It’s bound to explode.”

The next song, “Lightning Strike,” is a demonic battle of good versus evil, set to tolling bells and grandiose guitar solos. Afterwards, Halford unleashes his otherworldly banshee shriek on tracks like “Evil Never Dies” and “Necromancer.”

The most interesting song here is “Never the Heroes,” a lament written from the perspective of unwilling conscripts: “We were taken, not by choice / They put anger in our voice.” The war fought is moral, but the song drips with regret that it had to be fought at all. Later, “Rising from Ruins” (introduced by the piano instrumental “Guardians”) envisions an end to war – not an idyllic utopia, but a battle-scarred, hard-fought peace: “We’ll face our foes so they can hear our voices / The land rejoices in empathy.”

There are lots of standout tracks on this record. “No Surrender” combines heavy riffs with Priest’s most irresistible hook since “Living After Midnight.” “Flamethrower” is a badass listen, even if it feels a bit like a rehash of the title track. And “Traitor’s Gate,” the last testament of a man condemned to the guillotine, boasts some of the album’s most poetic lyrics.

Rob Halford’s iconic voice is in fine form here – in fact, he’s never sounded so wicked. The sixty-seven-year-old singer seems equally comfortable at either end of his range, whether growling demonically or shrieking like a Valkyrie; he also shows off impressive emotional range, seething with rage and aching with loneliness on songs like “Lone Wolf” and the acoustic closer “Sea of Red.”

Firepower is a behemoth of an album, apocalyptic and oddly intimate, filled with songs to do battle by – and lonesome walks through the rubble. Play it loud.

Title: PHASES

Artist: Dear Rouge

Year: 2018

Tracklist:

  1. Firepower
  2. Lightning Strike
  3. Evil Never Dies
  4. Never the Heroes
  5. Necromancer
  6. Children of the Sun
  7. Guardians
  8. Rising From Ruins
  9. Flame Thrower
  10. Spectre
  11. Traitors Gate
  12. No Surrender
  13. Lone Wolf
  14. Sea of Red

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