Review: Firepower

In recent times, Judas Priest have been under attack by many selfish fans who expect the band to retire very soon due to the band’s on going problems with Glenn Tipton‘s illness (all the best mate), K.K. Downing‘s ability to put his foot firmly in his mouth and the addition of Andy Sneap now playing for the band on the live stage. I have to tell you, if you think this band is need of retiring, you clearly have not heard or felt the metallic powerhouse that is Firepower.

Firepower is the eighteenth studio album from the British heavy metal legends Judas Priest. Not only is it the second with their recent addition Richie Faulkner, but it is hands down their most consistently good album since Angel of Retribution or Demolition (yeah, come at me fan boys!). The band sound full of life, their songs have endless amounts of hooks and it just rocks from start to finish.

The guitar work blasts us with some heavy solid riffs and a lot of very tasteful guitar solos, all the while not being afraid to utilise some nice melody. I’m not entirely sure who played what but the tone used on both guitars sounds beautiful. Scott and Ian‘s rhythm section shines on this record as they play different metal styles from the thrash fast to the stomping slow, but it works really well and they both sound absolutely thunderous through out. Rob Halford just does what he does and still sounds great as he does it. He is a man who sounds like he has had a lot of inspiration and sings with a lot of passion. He uses a lot of highs and lows, making a great use of the variety his voice can provide.

The addition of Andy Sneap‘s production work does a lot for the band as it rubs away the stale production values from the previous albums and kicks them swiftly up the backside. Each instrument has a lot of room to breathe. The guitar sounds very crisp and the numerous layered vocals have been balanced very well.  It was definitely a shot of adrenaline that the band needed and that other bands sorely lack (looking at you Iron Maiden). Fans can deny Sneap as something the band needs, but clearly he was needed for Firepower and keeps up his reputation as one of the best metal producers around.

I have to also point out, this is not your mindless Painkiller Judas Priest. This is going back even further than that, all the way back to albums like British Steel and Point of Entry. This is not an album where the goal is to play as fast you can, as many notes as you can. The music has a lot more layers and variety to it, something that the previous album touched upon. That is not to say there aren’t any blistering fast numbers, there are a few. But the point is, they’ve finally taken the back seat to more straight forward classic metal riffs similar to what we’ve been hearing from Accept and Hell, and it sounds damn good. Two bands that producer Andy Sneap worked with, maybe not a coincidence.

I have read multiple reviews saying that Firepower is their best album since Painkiller. Well, if I’m going to be honest… I never rated that album that high. I have always found albums like Demolition, Redeemer of Souls and Point of Entry to be more creative and interesting. Firepower for me rivals those albums and I would say that it is definitely a band re-born.

Firepower is clearly a band revitalised and is a must have purchase for Judas Priest fans out there. I can see it appealing less to the younger teenagers and the more ignorant, but those who love proper traditional British heavy metal will find this album to be an excellent work of art. This is a truly fantastic album and the band should be proud to make a record of this calibre so late in their career. Well done, indeed.

Rating : 9 / 10

Where to buy :

Track Listing :

  1. Firepower
  2. Lightning Strikes
  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