Judas Priest’s Firepower-A Review

You’ll notice that this is called a first reaction, not a review. The plan is to listen to the new Judas Priest album, Firepower, non-stop, and simply give a reaction to hearing it for the first time.  Seems pretty straightforward. I may head off on tangents.  Bear with me.  Listening to a new Judas Priest album always makes me think about the old days of buying the records, (actual records) studying the lyrics, trying to figure out who was playing each guitar part.  It was always an event for me. 

Before we get to that, however, I would like to send out my thoughts and positive vibes to Priest’s guitar master Glenn Tipton.  You’ve all heard the story about Mr. Tipton suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and having to stop touring as a result.  He was one of my very first guitar heroes when I started playing the instrument. Thank you for the many years and MANY riffs that helped get me hooked on the guitar.

On to the reaction.  Here we go!

1. Firepower

Heavy guitar.  Good Lord.  This reminds me of some old classic Priest.  Nice little scream from the Metal God to kick things off.  It’s hard to believe that Rob Halford is pushing 70 years of age…Or is he 70 now?

Oh, guitar solo.  Nice harmony break.  I’m digging this.  Now the real solo.  Keeping it short, but not simple.  Lots of guitar pyro techniques, and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

“Firepower, petrifies, Firepower, between the eyes.”  Yes.  Good groove, drummer Scott Travis is his normal double bass beast.

It’s a good start to the album.  The guitars sound heavy as shit. 

I hate to state the obvious but it sounds like Priest.  

 2. Lightning Strike

The first single.  I’ve heard this one before, but I’m gonna listen again and react.

This is going to sound great live.  I’m interested to see who will play each part on tour, now that Glenn isn’t there.  Andy Sneap might just take over Glenn’s parts, while Richie plays KK’s (on the old stuff, obviously).

Damn, Rob sounds good. He’s obviously had to change his style a bit through the years, but he sounds so aggrressive on this one.

 There’s some nice leads on this tune. I’m really liking the harmony guitars.  Nothing too flashy, but perfect for the tune.

 That double bass drum is gonna be unreal live.  I want drum lessons from Scott Travis, and I don’t even play the drums.  He’s that kind of drummer.  Makes the non-players want to play.

Long-time Priest producer Tom Allom is back at the controls for Firepower.  He did everything from British Steel to Ram It Down. Definitely has that classic Priest sound. 

“Sowing the seeds of the nightmare from Hell,

Waiting for Lightning to Strike. “

Always loved Rob’s lyrics.

Power chord and slide down.  Sweet.

 3. Evil Never Dies

Straightforward Rocker.  

If Richie Faulkner is using his signature axe, it sounds sweet.  Hook me up, Richie.  HA!

“Your final scream is music to his ears.” Awesome.

Ian Hill always impressed me.  He never seemed to want the spotlight, always steady as a rock.  Love his playing.

Solo – a little wah, every solo fits the song perfectly so far.  No whanking for whanking’s sake.

Nice little breakdown.  Picking up…”I can’t escape the horror, with the devil in my head”

This build up is great…back into the main riff.  Another solo.  Guitar player heaven.  Richie is a beast.

Power chord and slide down.  Sweet.

 4 Never The Heroes   

Cool intro.  Sounds like a synth kind of bass.  Similar feel to Blood Red Skies from Ram It Down.

Slower tune.  DAMN! Rob sounds unreal.  Hasn’t lost it at all. 

An obvious anti-war song.  Picks up for the chorus.  Second verse, picks up the tempo and aggression from the first.  This is a well-written song.

“Never The Heroes.  We were sacrificed at war.”

Solo.  Nice octaves.  Pretty tame solo, but again fits the song to a T.

I could see this one becoming a single.

Richie seems to be doing something a little different than typical power chords.  Sounds much heavier.  Not sure if it’s a production thing or his playing.

 5. Necromancer            

Nice riff. 

It’s Priest. 

I remember the first Priest show I saw, on the Defenders of the Faith Tour in Ottawa.  These tunes are getting me pumped for March 25th.  Priest again, in the same building as the first time. 

Solo – Ripping, trade-off.  Priest invented this style.  And all these years later, they’re still killing it.

Love it.

 6. Children Of The Sun

Slow and steady drum beat. Solid groove. 

Lots of chuggin’, palm mutin’ on this one. 

Little breakdown after the chorus.  I’ve always loved this element of Priest songs.  Rob is shining here. 

Then they always build it up.  (Think ‘The Sentinel’)

“You are the reason I feel dead”.  Rob rules

SOLO- Longer trade offs in this one.  I’m guessing Richie first and Glenn finishes it off. (I could be wrong! Probably am.)

KEY CHANGE!  Ha, the singer in my band in Korea would always announce key changes.  Good times.

Power chord and slide down.  Sweet.

7. Guardians

Nice.  Piano to start this one off with what sounds like MANY guitars fading in. Great harmony work.  Just a little interlude into Rising From Ruins.  It’s got a nice little Epitaph from Sad Wings of Destiny feel to it.  I wonder who plays piano.

Intro solo is great.  Amazing feel.

Another slower one.  The clean guitar is a nice touch.

8. Rising From Ruins

Not clean anymore.  Holy crap.

Clean again.  I’m seriously going to ask Scott to teach me when he gets to Ottawa.  SCOTT, teach me!!

I hear some keyboards, I believe.  Fit very nicely.

Solo- More harmony.  Man, this is going to be fun live. 

Holy crap.  Drums at the end of the solo.

I know I’m a fan, but every single part on this album seems to fit so perfectly.

Power chord and slide down.  Sweet.

9. Flame Thrower         

Nice sound on the intro.  HEAVY!!

I remember when KK left the band, I thought, like many others, “No KK, no Priest.”  I would like to formally apologize for thinking that.  They’re doing just fine. 

Saw them in Korea on the Epitaph tour, Richie’s first with the band.  They were great then, and the last two albums (Redeemers and Firepower) are proving that he wasn’t just a hired gun.  Hired Gun is a great movie, by the way.

Solo.  Rippin’. 

I love hearing old Priest when I see them, but I seriously hope they play most of this album live.  It’s built for arenas. 

ROB!!!!! Screaming to end it .  Damn.

10. Spectre        

My dog, Gizmo just jumped up from her sleep when this one kicked in.  Baptism by fire, mutt. (Ha, that was the name of Tipton’s solo album.  Weird)

There is some down tuning going on here. This is real heavy.  Not incredibly fast, but HEAVY!

Nice breakdown.  Gizmo just jumped again. 

Solo – this is good.  Ripping, melodic, a little wah, divebombing.  Richie needs to teach me too.  I’ll be available all day on March 25th.  HAHA!  It’ll never happen, but just imagine…

Right, back to the song.  Outro solo.  And crush that last chord.

11. Traitors Gate             

Mellow, yet heavy opening. 

Whoa, Poor Gizmo.  Wow, that hit hard.  Priest fans will love Firepower.  I liked Redeemer of Souls, but this one is better.  I hope that’s not an insult to Redeemers, but it is.

The power in Rob’s voice is front and center in this one. 

Kind of a Painkiller feel here.

Scream, right before the solo section I believe.

Yep, solo time.  Pick slide.  Tasty licks, I’m guessing Richie, then Glenn.  I don’t know how much Glenn played on this, but has a Glenn feel to it.

I hope my neighbors like Judas Priest, cuz they’re getting an earful.

“Outta the dark, Into the light,

Leaving their mark, Free from the Traitor’s gate

River of Blood, turning the tide

Something something something, destroying the traitor’s gate.”

I’m not usually good at hearing lyrics. 

ROOOOOOBBBBBBBB SCREAAAAAMIN’

Power chord and slide down.  Sweet.

12. No Surrender            

Another heavy one.  I would love to have been a fly on the wall at the recording of this one.  Do they headbang when they record?  How could you not for this one?

“Ready to fight with no surrender”

Holy shit!. Band cuts out, Rob growls ‘with no surrender’, band back in and Gizmo is awake again.

That might be my favorite so far.

13. Lone Wolf   

More down tuning.  This whole album is as heavy as I’ve ever heard them.  Very Painkiller heavy.  BTW, RIP to Chris Tsangarides, the great producer of Painkiller and so many other great Rock albums.  Sad loss.

Very cool breakdown.  A little flanger on Rob’s voice.  SOLO…Kinda bluesy on this one.  A little more metal now.  Glen’s turn.  More harmony guitars. 

Whoa, what an ending. 

14 Sea Of Red

Acoustic intro.  Gizmo has no problem with this.

I’m always a fan of the last song on Priest albums.  Think about some of the classics. (Evil Fantasies, Hero’s End, Dissident Aggressor, Steeler, Devil’s Child, Heavy Duty, etc.)

Beautiful intro.  Rob could’ve been a balladeer.  Great voice.  No surprise to anyone. 

This one might be tough live.  Lots of overdubbed vocals on top of each other.  Great breakdown.

Solo – Nice and tasty, like the rest of the album. 

Heavy at the end.

AND…Done.

Things I’ve learned/discovered

– I’m honored to have been allowed to react to this CD.

– Rob is a monster.  Most powerful voice ever in metal.

– Richie has solidified himself as a true member of Priest.  Embrace this.  His playing is well worth it.

– This is a must have album for all Priest fans and all fans of rock/metal in general.

– I want to learn the drums.

– I want to be a better guitar player
– Gizmo seemed to like Sea of Red.  At least she didn’t jump up during that one.

I wrote this while listening to the disc for the very first time.  No edits (except for checking the names of some of the last songs from earlier albums). 

Music is a powerful drug and it always gets my mind racing. Sorry for some of the tangents.

Looking forward to March 25th in Ottawa for my guitar and drum lesson.

Thanks for reading!

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