Judas Priest - Firepower
4 out of 5 Rock Hands
By James West, The-Rocker.com
Before getting into Firepower I feel it’s important to clarify to those of you who read this as to which Judas Priest fan you have delivering the goods on this review.
I was born in the sixties, so my “Priest of Choice” comes from the trifecta sound of pure metal masterpieces Hell Bent For Leather, British Steel and Point Of Entry. Fans born
in the 70s probably cite Screaming For Vengeance/Turbo as their Priest of Choice, while later 80s and 90s generations usually crave the Ram It Down/Painkiller era from the metal gods.
But make no mistake about it- We are all as one though in our love for this timeless band of defenders of the faith for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Ask any heavy rock group still in existence and they will quote Judas Priest as the source of their inspiration and creative energy. Well, they may also speak of Iron Maiden, but to compare the two is a travesty in my opinion.
But that’s another story altogether…
On Firepower, Judas Priest do an excellent job of combining all eras from their legacy, and in some cases, even within the same song. While I loved several cuts off of Redeemer of Souls, Firepower simply has more substance in which to Ram It Down your eardrums. Here’s my song by song review:
FIREPOWER: The album starts off with a song that could easily be straight off the thunderous Ram It Down album. Featuring galloping riffs and double-kick beats Firepower gets your attention quick and keeps it there.
Immediately you can tell Rob’s voice is in top form. Also, Nice guitar harmonies from Glenn and Richie add to the song’s depth before Richie launches into an incredible solo that’s straight off of Ace Frehley’s comet. Not to be outdone, Scott plays a cool stutter kick from the drums about half way through to give it a dimension. The song fades out with a cool phaser type effect.
LIGHTNING STRIKE: The galloping ride continues with the next track. Ritchie has some cool stabbing-type riffs to add depth to the song. Mid-way through they launch into a Maiden-type rhythm to some effect. Overall, not my favorite track off the album. Sounds kind of cut and paste to me.
EVIL NEVER DIES: For me this is really when the Priest I know and love start the album off. Dialing back the double kick and focusing on the punch and feel of great power riffs along with a killer groove is the Priest sound I crave. Rob delivers great vocals here. He really tries to convey feeling with his delivery. The song also has a bit of a Metallica vibe aka Enter Sandman complete with a Kirk Hammett-style solo.
Then strangely it goes right into Megadeth style riffs. What a cool combo! Then back to Hammett time before going back to the chorus.
NEVER THE HEROES: What, is that synth’s starting it off? I’ll forgive them as it gives the song a cool pumping vibe that goes well with the tempo. This cut could easily be off Stained Glass or Hell Bent For Leather. United we stand! Rob gives a great vocal performance here; reminiscent of March Of The Damned, the best cut off of Redeemer Of Souls in my opinion. Cool minor chord solo doesn’t distract from the cool groove. What a great song to hear from these guys!
NECROMANCER: Back to Painkiller mode with this one, although there is a cool, slowed-down riff on the chorus. Cool riffs and solo’s from both Glenn and Richie add flavor to the track. Should be a good head banger at the concert!
CHILDREN OF THE SUN: One of my favorites from the album, this song sizzles from the start. A great riff straight out of the British Steel era burns your ears into ecstasy. The song slows to give Rob a chance to really sing and deliver the message, then Glenn and Richie launch into soaring leads. Then back to the songs’ main riff to drive it on home. This is Priest you want your kids to hear for the first time!
GUARDIANS: This nice piano-driven instrumental harks back to the days of Screaming and Defenders.
RISING FROM RUINS: Another great riff starts this song out, then suddenly duds out in a hark back to songs from Sin After Sin and Sad Wings Of Destiny. It feels like you are on a horse-ride out of hell and back.
While I like the vibe of the song by the time you through a bridge in there I feel it tends to linger along far too long becomes a bit too sing-songy. But again, those hell, fire, and brimstone riffs conquer all.
FLAME THROWER: Detuned riffs are cool on this track, but when Rob sings FLAME THROWWWWEEEERREERRERRR it kills the song for me, despite some cool-ass slide guitar work and fills by Richie and Glenn.
SPECTRE: Holy crap this song slays! What a great riff and lyrics. The riff is cut from the same vein as songs off of Metallica’s album Hardwired- but done Priest-style. Rob’s vocals add dramatic accents to the delivery, and then it launches into more phaser-type solos that do the song justice. A great combo of both classic Priest melody and
modern riffage. Easily the best song on the album. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a title of a James Bond movie!
TRAITORS GATE: The album continues with another thunderous track. The rhythm goes up and down in octaves to hypnotizing effect. Great layering of guitars. It’s hard to tell where Glenn leaves off and Richie starts. A great combo of a British Steel-style riff with a Ram It Down delivery.
NO SURRENDER: This song is the album’s attempt at a single I believe. It’s got another great riff and chorus, and I’m sure some fans will pump fists along to that chorus at the concert. The final riff delivery saves the song for me.
LONE WOLF: I hate to keep mentioning the Metallica influence here but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This one could fit on either Load or Reload. The master riffs of both groups are what set them apart from their contemporaries. One generation influencing another as it should be.
SEA OF RED: Back to Sin After Sin and Sad Wings on this finale. Not my favorite era of Priest, but it does showcase Rob’s range and depth. Not bad for a screamer of vengeance in his late 60s. Also hear bits of Ozzy’s Diary of a Madman toward the end. A nice final cut for the album.
A great slab of Metal from the Masters themselves. I give it 4 out of 5 rock hands mostly due to brevity. Just imagine what this album would be if trimmed of its fat down to just these 10 great songs, ranked from my favorite to least favorite:
7. Lone Wolf
8. Traitors Gate
9. No Surrender
10. Rising From Ruins
2. Children Of The Sun
3. Never The Heroes
4. Evil Never Dies