Let’s get straight into business, I don’t think I have to introduce heavy metal Gods Judas Priest anymore to anyone. After eighteen albums and a farewell tour, they aren’t quite done with us yet and resurfaced with “Firepower”. Much to my enthusiasm, I’ve been a huge Judas Priest fan for practically my whole existence. As much as I was disappointed with the production values of “Redeemer of Souls”, I was looking forward to this release with much delight.
I remember when “Lightning Strikes” was released as a first single to represent the album. My expectations were quite high. “Lightning Strikes” felt so retro, that it could have easily been part of “Painkiller” and somewhere in the internet a fan remixed the track into how it would have sounded like if it was indeed on “Painkiller” by only speeding the track up a bit, adding reverb and adding EQ to the mix. Which only proves my theory about that.
Yes, in my opinion “Firepower,” may easily be one of their best albums since “Painkiller.” Anyhow that aside, the album starts off with the self-titled track “Firepower.” “Firepower” is basically a classic Judas Priest song, with a heavy sound, where we can feel in how much of a good shape Rob Halford is. The song reminds a bit of a combination between “Painkiller” and Halford‘s solo material.
Like mentioned before “Lightning Strikes” is an amazing song. I can’t really add much more to that. The song is catchy, it has that typical Judas Priest, but yet you can feel that the band has adapted to the current society and its adapted taste. But hallelujah, if you thought that that was pretty much it to it, then boy you’re in for a treat. This album, mark my words has even more highlights than just those two tracks. “Evil Never Dies” is one of the highlights concerning Halford’s voice, with subtle accents in the music, it sounds really heavy, interesting and shows his mark as one of the best heavy metal singers currently there. Yes, maybe Halford is not what he used to be anymore, but he still has that intense sound, that’s very convincing, especially in the lower registers. You get a little bit of everything on this album. You get the heaviest in “Evil Never Dies,” “Necromancer,” “Flame Thrower.” You get some mid-paced, very touching, songs like “Never The Heroes” and “Rising From Ruins,” the latter one definitely being one of this album’s highlights and also beautiful ballads like “Sea Of Red.” “Sea Of Red” is not only a very emotional and beautiful ballad, it’s also a perfect way to end the album.
In general the album is great. The production is so much better, this might have to do with collaborating with both Andy Sneap en Tom Allom. Bigger, better, contemporary, refreshing, but typical Judas Priest. Perhaps not as explosive as “Painkiller”, but there are no filler tracks on this album, every track being unique, adding something to a coherent album filled with great, heavy and tight riffs, once in a while that epic twin guitar sound and a bunch of divebombs, epic and compelling guitar solos, drums that are tight as fuck and spot-on.
While being quite uncertain about what’s next on the path for Judas Priest, after hearing about the tragic news of Glenn Tipton‘s suffering from Parkinsons disease and thus stepping back from touring. Maybe this is Judas Priest‘s swan song? But if indeed this would be their last album in the make (but let’s not speculate, for the sake of still having some faith), then it is a glorious ending for what can only be described as a legendary career for one of the pioneers of heavy metal.