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Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls [Review]

Redeemer-of-souls-album-cover-art-1280

Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls [Deluxe Edition]
2014, Epic Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

CD 1:
1. “Dragonaut” 4:26
2. “Redeemer of Souls” 3:58
3. “Halls of Valhalla” 6:04
4. “Sword of Damocles” 4:54
5. “March of the Damned” 3:55
6. “Down in Flames” 3:56
7. “Hell & Back” 4:46
8. “Cold Blooded” 5:25
9. “Metalizer” 4:37
10. “Crossfire” 3:51
11. “Secrets of the Dead” 5:41
12. “Battle Cry” 5:18
13. “Beginning of the End” 5:07

CD 2:
1. “Snakebite” 3:14
2. “Tears of Blood” 4:19
3. “Creatures” 4:25
4. “Bring It On” 3:18
5. “Never Forget” 6:25

Since the release of the somewhat controversial Nostradamus six years ago, we’ve seen Judas Priest go on a “farewell” tour and also lose founding member K.K. Downing (he didn’t die, he retired) under still not quite clear circumstances. Well, I, for one never believed Judas Priest was going to call it quits. Does anyone really, ever? Though I wasn’t happy that K.K. was leaving, I was hoping that the addition of 31-year old guitarist Richie Faulkner might rejuvenate the band much the same way Scott Travis did when he came on on as drummer in 1990.

Nostradamus isn’t a terrible album and it was a brave thing to do, but it was still a misstep and the band seemed to have lost themselves. Now, it’s possible that if Downing had stayed on then perhaps the band would’ve delivered an album similar to Redeemer of Souls, but who knows? All I know is that Richie gets a co-writing credit on all of the tracks alongside Rob Halford and Glenn Tipton. I’m glad he was allowed to jump right into the deep-end and contribute immediately, unlike how some “replacements” are treated. Tim “Ripper” Owens’ term in this very band comes to mind in regards to being creatively silenced or at least limited!

Whether it’s the fact that the band has new blood or whether it was a conscious effort to deliver a much more tradition Priest album, the band nailed it with Redeemer of Souls. This really is a culmination of many eras of the band and despite the fact that the deluxe edition has a total of 15 tracks, this album is lean ‘n’ mean. It’s a refreshing back-to-basics approach after the overblown and overproduced Nostradamus.

The deluxe edition includes a second disc that includes five great tracks and it is well worth picking up this version. “Snakebite”, “Creatures” and “Never Forget” should’ve been on Disc 1, but I could see how “Snakebite” wouldn’t fit. It’s a bit of a loose testosterone-fueled rocker; like a heavier Whitesnake.

Overall, Rob still sounds great and the new twin axe attack of Tipton/Faulkner is a powerful and worthy guitar duo to pick up where Tipton left off with KK Downing. I figured the album would be good, but not this good. Easily the best album the band has released since 1990’s Painkiller.

Highlights: “Dragonaut”, “Redeemer of Souls”, “Hell & Back”, “Cold Blooded”, “Metalizer”, “Crossfire”, “Secrets of the Dead”, “Beginning of the End”, “Snakebite”, “Creatures”, “Never Forget”

Queensryche – Frequency Unknown [Review]

queensryche-frequency-410

Queensryche – Frequency Unknown
2013, Cleopatra Records/Deadline Music

1. “Cold”
2. “Dare”
3. “Give It to You”
4. “Slave”
5. “In the Hands of God”
6. “Running Backwards”
7. “Life Without You”
8. “Everything”
9. “Fallen”
10. “The Weight of the World”
11. “I Don’t Believe in Love”
12. “Empire”
13. “Jet City Woman”
14. “Silent Lucidity”

Band:
Geoff Tate – Lead Vocals
Kelly Gray – Guitar (solo on Track 1)
Robert Sarzo – Guitar (solo on Track 3)
Rudy Sarzo – Bass (Tracks 1, 5, and 9)
Simon Wright – Drums (Tracks 1 and 5)
Randy Gane – Keyboards (Tracks 1, 5–6, and 8–10), Bass (Track 10)

Additional Musicians:
Craig Locicero – Guitar (Tracks 1–10)
Jason Slater – Bass (Tracks 2–4, and 6–8), Keyboards (Tracks 7–8)
Martín Irigoyen – Guitar, Bass, Drums (Tracks 11–14)
Paul Bostaph – Drums (Tracks 6–9)
Evan Bautista – Drums (Tracks 2–4, and 10)
Jason Slater – Theremin (solo on Track 2)
Chris Cannella – Guitar (solo on Track 4)
Ty Tabor – Guitar (solo on Tracks 5 and 8)
K.K. Downing – Guitar (solo on Track 6)
Brad Gillis – Guitar (solo on Track 7)
Dave Meniketti – Guitar (solo on Track 9)
Chris Poland – Guitar (solo on Track 10)

Producer: Jason Slater

Even though I’ve always considered the band to be one of the more bland and boring rock/metal outfits out there, the story of Queensryche has become quite interesting over the last year. I’m certain more people are discussing Queensryche now more than they have in probably 10, 15 or 20 years. I know I am. If you want a good overview of what’s been happening and why there are two groups claiming to be Queensryche, check out this excellent article (which has been spotlighted and given the stamp of approval by the La Torre version of the band).

Well, as the world continues to wait for the Todd La Torre version of Queensryche to release their album, the Geoff Tate line-up has released their own album. Geoff Tate is probably one of the least popular guys in the world of rock & metal right now, so it’s no surprise the bashing started as soon as sound clips were released. But rightfully so. The production was pretty bad on the preview clips that were released. Some of those issues seem to have been corrected now that the album has been released but Cleopatra Records is now offering to send an even more recently remixed copy of the album to anyone to can provide them with proof of purchase of Frequency Unknown. They made this announcement just weeks after the album hit the shelves. It’s a head-scratcher. Why the label didn’t just wait and release a properly remixed album, I don’t know.

And just take a look at the limited involvement of the “band” and the long list of additional musicians. It’s a guitar solo-bonanza! They might as well be called “Geoff Tate’s Queensryche” or maybe “The Geoff Tate Group”, “Geoff Tate & Friends” or “Just Geoff”. There’s really no “band” here at all. The making of this album looks like a revolving door of musicians. Heck, this version of the band has already lost Glen Drover and Bobby Blotzer (they only participated in live shows before splitting)!

Okay, enough nitpicking. It’s the music that matters, right? Well, despite never really having any preference towards anything Queensryche and despite the fact that I agree Tate comes off like an arrogant jerk, this album is actually decent. I know Dedicated to Chaos tried to go some weird rock/pop/dance/whatever route and the band was properly trashed for doing so but Tate doesn’t go that route with the not-so-subtly titled Frequency Unknown (come on, it’s FU with a big fist coming at you on the cover… a message to Tate-haters and former band mates I’m sure). No, Frequency Unknown is a hard rock album with a modern sound. I’m okay with that. I think no matter what, Tate was going to lose. He’s getting bashed for sounding modern but if he tried to make an album with the classic Queensryche sound he would’ve gotten bashed for that as well. The closest he comes to his days of old is with “In the Hands of God” and “The Weight of the World”, I think.

“Cold” is a great modern sounding hard rock song. When it first became available, I wanted to be able to laugh at how bad it was and then continue on with my day, but it’s become one of my favorite songs of the year. I can’t stop playing it. Other songs like “Life Without You” and “Everything” remain highlights for me.

The only thing that truly weighs the album down are the four re-recording of a few Queensryche classics that are tacked on at the end. Tate has pointblank said he re-recorded them for the money because the label wanted these songs for licensing purposes. It’s only Tate and Martin Irigoyen on these songs. The sore spot here is Geoff’s voice. He sounds fine on the FU material, never going out of his weakening range but he just can’t hit the notes on these older songs. The music sounds fine to my casual Queensryche listening ears but I’ve read other reviews of die-hards picking apart Irigoyen’s musicianship. The production definitely lacking on these four songs.

Overall, Frequency Unknown had the recipe for a true disaster but Tate and his army of musicians pulled through and delivered a solid modern hard rock album. Just don’t expect much from the re-recordings.

Highlights: “Cold”, “Give It to You”, “In the Hands of God”, “Life Without You”, “Everything”, “The Weight of the World”

http://www.queensryche.com/
http://www.facebook.com/Queensryche

Buy the album at Amazon.com

My thoughts on K.K. Downing “retiring” from Judas Priest

The world of metal was rocked (no pun intended) on Wednesday, April 20, 2011 when Judas Priest issued this statement:

It is with regret that Judas Priest announce that K.K. DOWNING has formally retired from the band and will therefore not be joining them on their forthcoming EPITAPH Tour.

The band respect his decision and naturally all wish him well.

There’s a more fleshed-out (and rather upbeat & casual) press release linked with that statement that basically states the band plans to continue on with the  Epitaph world tour (for those that don’t know, it is being hyped as the band’s final major world tour) and also still has plans to record and release a new album next year. Oh yeah, and the replacement is 31-year-old Richie Faulkner from England. I had never heard of him before but his most noticeable credit is playing in Lauren Harris’ (the daughter of Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris) band.

The whole thing with Priest has been weird for a while. First, there was the vague announcement that they were retiring and that the 2011 Epitaph tour would be their farewell tour. Weeks later, they backtracked and said “No, this is just our last MAJOR world tour and we’re still going to make new music”.

Which is fine. I think most people realize these guys are 60-ish and deserve the break from the rigors of the road. They are legends and deserve to sit back and relax for the rest of their lives if that’s what they want.

But who exactly in the band wants that? Here is the press release issued by K.K. on April 21, 2011:

Dear friends,

It is with much regret that I will not be with you this summer. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your concerns about my health. Please rest assured that I am O.K.

There has been an ongoing breakdown in working relationship between myself, elements of the band, and the band’s management for some time.

Therefore I have decided to step down rather than to tour with negative sentiments as I feel that this would be a deception to you, our cherished fans.

However I would urge you to please support the Priest as I have no doubt that it will be a show not to be missed.

All my love and respect,

K.K. Downing

For a while, it seemed like K.K. was the only one issuing updates on the Epitaph/recording plans, so you would think he was all for it. Perhaps Downing, and Downing alone, was the one pushing for a slower pace for Priest? Obviously, when K.K. mentions the band’s management there are some money factors at play. I’m guessing management (and perhaps the rest of Priest) have decided they want to continue full-steam ahead while K.K. is still wanting to operate at a slower pace. I think at some point all members were on board with some type of reduced schedule but money talks so it appears some members are more willing to keep up the pace than others. Perhaps this is similar situation to what Dream Theater recently went through.

Not that either side is wrong. No matter who wants to continue, who wants a reduced schedule or who wants it to all just be done — no one is really wrong. All of those options have their positive and negatives and while we certainly don’t know the full story (yet), I don’t begrudge Downing, Halford, Tipton or Hill for their choices in this matter.

I will continue to support Priest. Will it be the same band? Of course not. It’s going to be a different beast (especially when it comes to the new album) but I am not going to write them off. Who is to say the music still can’t be good? Priest isn’t just going to bring in any ol’ guy. The fact that they announced K.K.’s “retirement” from Priest and Richie’s joining in the same press release just means this is NOT something out of the blue and I know Richie had to have been carefully picked by Rob & Glenn. So in that regards, I think in a live setting the band will do just fine.

What I’m actually quite anxious to see is how the new album will turn out. The Halford/Tipton/Downing songwriting team has been responsible for some all-metal classics. Are we down to Halford/Tipton? Is Faulkner a hired gun like drummer Scott Travis or will Rob & Glenn let Richie flex some creative muscles? It will be very interesting either way and I hope K.K. will not wash his hands of music at this point. I would love to hear what he would offer up on a solo album.

Certainly, any way you slice it, this is very sad news. I’m hoping even if they have decided they cannot be business partners that the guys are still going to remain friends. You’d think even if Downing and the band had a difference of opinion on the future they could at least work through this final major tour but apparently not.

My feeling is that at some point Downing will be back. My fear is that it will be too late to really make a difference. These guys are not getting any younger and at this point in their lives they should be cherishing every moment they can have together as a band. For a veteran band, losing such a vital member this late in the game this can really set them back a ways. At least I was able to see the group in 2009.

Thank you, K.K., for all the decades of great music. I wish you the best.

JUDAS PRIEST – Rocka Rolla

Judas Priest – Rocka Rolla (2000, Koch Records)
Original Release: 1974, Gull Records

1. “One for the Road” … 4:35
2. “Rocka Rolla” … 3:03
3. “Winter”/”Deep Freeze”/”Winter Retreat”/”Cheater” … 9:30
4. “Never Satisfied” … 4:50
5. “Run of the Mill” (8:34)
6. “Dying to Meet You” (6:19)
7. “Caviar and Meths” (2:03)
BONUS TRACK
8. “Diamonds and Rust” (3:14)

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals, Harmonica
K.K. Downing – Guitar
Glenn Tipton – Guitar, Synthesizers, Backing Vocals
Ian Hill – Bass
John Hinch – Drums

Producer: Rodger Bain

Very interesting debut album from Judas Priest that is predominantly a blues-based “heavy rock” release (I’ve grown to love that term when talking about ’70s hard rock/metal bands). I’ve read a lot of reviews stating this album is nothing special but I have to disagree. Is it essential Priest? No, I don’t think so but it is still enjoyable ’70s hard rock that at times come across like early Black Sabbath (Rodger Bain produced the first three Sabbath albums after all). Admittedly, it was a bit of a shock listening to this album for the first time because it’s just not what you expect from Priest, it’s just not as fast or heavy as their later stuff, but it has grown on me.

There’s more than enough here to make this worth a listen. “Rocka Rolla” is a great, fun, loose hard rock track, something I can’t imagine Judas Priest doing ever again. “Run of the Mill” is an epic progressive song, just an amazing performance by Rob, and “Dying to Meet You” is an enjoyable doomy track before picking up at the end.

“Rocka Rolla”, “Winter”, “Never Satisfied” and “Caviar and Meths” were all written or co-written by original singer At Atkins before he left the group. This version of “Caviar and Meths” is very much shortened from the original version the band had worked on.

My version of this album features the alternate cover that debuted on the mid-80s pressings of this album. The story goes that Coca-Cola and Priest were none too please with the original bottle cap cover and so reissues of this album got the much more heavy metal-looking cover above. I’ve always liked the original cover, even if it feels out of place for a band such as Judas Priest, and would have preferred to have found that version. Oh well. Priest apparently isn’t happy with the production either, that which I can agree with. Some of the songs have a bit of a hiss to them but it’s not too distracting.

Also, on original pressings of this album, I believe “Winter”, “Deep Freeze”, “Winter Retreat” and “Cheater” all had their own tracks. Not sure why they were thrown together on the same track for this edition. As a bonus track for this reissue, the band’s original recording of Joan Baez’s “Diamonds and Rust” (taken from the Sad Wings of Destiny sessions) included.

For people wanting a Priest recommendation, I wouldn’t name this album first but it’s definitely worth picking up if you’re a hardcore Priest fan and I probably like much more than most people do. It’s different but you can still hear the sound that would fully develop on later albums.

Highlights: “Rocka Rolla”, “Winter”/”Deep Freeze”/”Winter Retreat”/”Cheater”, “Never Satisfied”, “Run of the Mill”, “Diamonds and Rust”

www.judaspriest.com
www.myspace.com/judaspriest

JUDAS PRIEST – Sin After Sin

Judas Priest – Sin After Sin [Remastered] (2001, Sony Music/Legacy Recordings)
Original Release: 1977, Columbia Records

1. “Sinner” … 6:45
2. “Diamonds and Rust” … 3:27
3. “Starbreaker” … 4:49
4. “Last Rose of Summer” … 5:38
5. “Let Us Prey/Call For The Priest” … 6:12
6. “Raw Deal” … 6:00
7. “Here Come the Tears” … 4:37
8. “Dissident Aggressor” … 3:06
BONUS TRACKS
9. “Race With The Devil” … 3:06
10. “Jawbreaker” (Live) … 4:02

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
K.K. Downing – Guitar
Glenn Tipton – Guitar, Piano
Ian Hill –  Bass
Simon Phillips – Drums

Producer: Roger Glover and Judas Priest

Sin After Sin is Priest’s first major-label album. It is also one of the first Priest albums I had in my collection so I’ve always had a soft spot for it. I remember listening to this one a lot while I was on my own in Virginia attending a community college. Heck, I remember “Last Rose of Summer” playing in my car during that winter while I pulled into a Wendy’s drive-thru. Funny how the most random stuff sticks with you through the years, isn’t it?

By this point, the band was already starting to perfect their sound. “Sinner” and “Starbreaker” (what a cool title) are early Priest classics and I’ve always loved their cover of Joan Baez’s “Diamonds and Rust”. It wasn’t until many years later that I heard the original and I think it’s a pretty awful song. It’s amazing that Priest was able to work their magic with it. They totally made it their own.

The rest of the album is very good featuring Priest straddling the line between the early stages of heavy metal and what we would now call classic rock. The only stinker is “Last Rose of Summer”. Looking back at all the things the band has done since then, it just seems like a really weird song for them to record. They are no strangers to tossing a ballad or two our way even to this day, but this one is a very strange ’70s trippy number. “Here Come the Tears” is much more in line with the standard Priest ballad format but also features some great sorrowful wailing from Halford. I love his performance on this song. Then you’ve got fan favorite and early metal classic “Dissident Aggressor” which is pretty heavy even in this day and age, so I cannot even begin to imagine what this song must have sounded like to virgin ears!

All told, this is a classic release and essential for any fan of Priest and heavy metal in general. The seeds were being sown for the future and this album doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

Highlights: “Sinner”, “Diamonds and Rust”, “Starbreaker”, “Here Come the Tears”, “Dissident Aggressor”

www.judaspriest.com
www.myspace.com/judaspriest

JUDAS PRIEST – Screaming for Vengeance

Judas Priest – Screaming for Vengeance (1982, Columbia Records)

1. “The Hellion” … 0:41
2. “Electric Eye” … 3:39
3. “Riding on the Wind” … 3:07
4. “Bloodstone” … 3:51
5. “(Take These) Chains” … 3:07
6. “Pain and Pleasure” … 4:17
7. “Screaming for Vengeance” … 4:43
8. “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” … 5:09
9. “Fever” … 5:20
10. “Devil’s Child” … 4:48

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
K.K. Downing – Guitar
Glenn Tipton – Guitar
Ian Hill – Bass
Dave Holland – Drums

Producer: Tom Allom

This album was a great way to start my Judas Priest obsession. I bought it back in 1998 and I remember going up to Virginia to visit friends during winter break and making one of them play this in his car as we drove around town. Good times!

There were a number of tracks that I instantly fell in love with. The killer 1-2 combo of “The Hellion” and “Electric Eye” is legendary. “(Take These) Chains” I always thought was really good and pretty underrated. Priest is really good at writing haunting ballads. “Bloodstone” I think is another Priest gem. Of course, even years before this album I was familiar with “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” (freakin’ Burger King feature it in a commercial at one point!).

The album is a great return to classic material after the unimpressive Point of Entry, but it sees the band caught in the middle of transition from ’70s heavy metal act to ’80s commercial metal act. With their next few releases, the band streamlined and glossed up their sound and kept looking for a mainstream hit.

As good as this album is and as popular as it is (going double platinum, Priest’s best-selling album), it jump-started an era of the band that some people do not like. Personally, I love their slick synthesizer-heavy albums of the ’80s.

Highlights: “The Hellion”, “Electric Eye”, “Riding on the Wind”, “Bloodstone”, “(Take These) Chains”, “Screaming for Vengeance”, “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'”

www.judaspriest.com
www.myspace.com/judaspriest

JUDAS PRIEST – Angel of Retribution

Judas Priest – Angel of Retribution (2005, Epic Records)

CD:
1. “Judas Rising” … 4:15
2. “Deal With The Devil” … 3:54
3. “Revolution” … 4:42
4. “Worth Fighting For” … 4:17
5. “Demonizer” … 4:35
6. “Wheels Of Fire” … 3:41
7. “Angel” … 4:23
8. “Hellrider” … 6:06
9. “Eulogy” … 2:54
10. “Lochness” … 13:28

DVD:
1. “Breaking the Law”
2. “Diamonds & Rust”
3. “The Hellion/Electric Eye”
4. “A Touch of Evil”
5. “Metal Gods”
6. “Hell Bent For Leather”
7. “Living After Midnight”
8. Documentary

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
Glenn Tipton – Lead Guitar
K. K. Downing – Rhythm Guitar
Ian Hill – Bass
Scott Travis – Drums

Producer: Roy Z

This album was a soundtrack to 2005 for me! Despite owning Demolition, I thought Priest with Tim “Ripper” Owens was merely “okay”, but at the same time, I was loving what Rob Halford was doing in his solo band. When it was finally announced Halford was back in Priest after a 13 years absence, I was really excited about it (though a bit disappointed that his band would be put on hold).

Much to my surprise, the lone single from the album, “Revolution”, actually got a fair amount of radio play in my area. I’ve got good memories of blasting it real loud in the truck I was driving while doing lawn care whenever it came on. It’s a great track and definitely my favorite on the album. It’s a bit modern, but a bit classic Priest as well.

Roy Z, who produced Halford (the band) produced here as well and he does good job of not letting this become a lame nostalgia album as he combines classic and modern metals sounds. “Judas Rising” and then “Deal With The Devil” are definitely old school Priest and after the awesome “Revolution”, “Worth Fighting For” is my second favorite song and it has an ’80s Priest vibe sounding like something could have come from Ram It Down or Defenders of the Faith. “Wheels of Fire” takes it back even further, sounding like something they might have done in the late ’70s!

Lyrically and conceptually, the album is supposed to be somewhat of a sequel to 1976’s Sad Wings of Destiny, but a lot of lyrical references are made to other albums and songs throughout the band’s career, which is a really cool thing to pick up on if you know your Priest history.

This album was pretty well-received by metal fans across the land, but looking back, I think I like this album even more than I did back when it was new and it easily trumps the two Ripper albums (sorry, Tim).

There were two versions available upon release. You could get the “DualDisc” CD or the CD/DVD combo. Of course, I went for the DVD combo which features a few live performances.

Highlights: “Judas Rising”, “Deal With The Devil”, “Revolution”, “Worth Fighting For”, “Wheels of Fire”, “Hellrider”

www.judaspriest.com
www.myspace.com/judaspriest

JUDAS PRIEST – Point of Entry

Judas Priest – Point of Entry [Remastered] (2001, Sony Music/Legacy Recordings)
Original Release: 1981, Columbia Records

1. “Heading Out to the Highway” … 3:47
2. “Don’t Go” … 3:18
3. “Hot Rockin'” … 3:17
4. “Turning Circles” … 3:41
5. “Desert Plains” … 4:36
6. “Solar Angels” … 4:03
7. “You Say Yes” … 3:29
8. “All the Way” … 3:42
9. “Troubleshooter” … 4:00
10. “On the Run” … 3:47
BONUS TRACKS
11. “Thunder Road”… 5:12
12. “Desert Plains” (live) … 5:08

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
K.K. Downing – Guitar
Glenn Tipton – Guitar
Ian Hill – Bass
Dave Holland – Drums

Produced by: Tom Allom

The least of Priest. Point of Entry is a pretty boring effort from the guys that’s stuck between two of their more revered efforts, 1980’s British Steel and 1982’s Screaming for Vengeance. The best the band comes to making a Priest classic is “Hot Rockin'”, which has a big, dumb catchy commercial sound like something you might hear on Turbo or Ram It Down. The album isn’t awful, but definitely isn’t a great moment in the band’s history.

The 2001 remastered edition features a live version of “Desert Plains” and “Thunder Road” (which I quite like), a song recorded during the Ram It Down sessions that sounds totally out of place with this album. This is what makes these Priest remasters kind of weird. It’s very cool that they added unreleased and live tracks to them, but why wouldn’t “Thunder Road” belong on the actual Ram It Down remaster? It’s like the bonus tracks were tacked on at random.

Highlights: “Head Out to the Highway”, “Hot Rockin'”, “Desert Plains”, “Thunder Road”

www.judaspriest.com
www.myspace.com/judaspriest

JUDAS PRIEST – A Touch of Evil: Live

Judas Priest – A Touch of Evil: Live (2009, Epic Records/Sony Music)

1. “Judas Rising” … 4:23
2. “Hellrider” … 5:38
3. “Between the Hammer and the Anvil” … 4:35
4. “Riding on the Wind” … 3:28
5. “Death” … 7:52
6. “Beyond the Realms of Death” … 6:52
7. “Dissident Aggressor” … 3:03
8. “A Touch of Evil” … 6:10
9. “Eat Me Alive” … 4:35
10. “Prophecy” … 6:07
11. “Painkiller” … 7:12

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
K.K. Downing – Guitar
Glenn Tipton – Guitar
Ian Hill – Bass
Scott Travis – Drums

Produced by: Thom Allom and Judas Priest

This album was released one day before the Judas Priest/Whitesnake show in Clarkston, MI so it was a great way to get hyped to see the band. I’ve played it many times over since then and it’s quickly become one of my favorite live albums. It’s been in my car stereo ever since purchasing it.

Instead of giving us another live album featuring “Breaking The Law” or “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”, Priest decided on a track listing truly meant for the diehards to enjoy. The songs are pulled from performances between 2005 and 2008 and it’s a great mix of new and old songs that aren’t a part of their standard setlist these days.

THREE Painkiller songs? “Eat Me Alive”? “Beyond the Realms of Death”? TWO Angel of Retribution songs? THIS is the kinda stuff I love to see on a live album! To all of you bands who release live albums– forget about the “hits” and the play-by-numbers setlists and get down to the rarities and fan faves! Even Nostradamus‘ “Death” and “Prophecy” sound right at home in a live setting with the rest of these Priest classics.

For fans– if you’re tired of the same ol’ boring live albums, pick this one up to support Priest & heavy metal because Rob & co. are doing it right with a refreshing track list and some great performances as well.

Highlights: “Judas Rising”, “Between the Hammer and the Anvil”, “Death”, “Beyond the Realms of Death”, “A Touch of Evil”, “Prophecy”, “Painkiller”

www.judaspriest.com
www.myspace.com/judaspriest

JUDAS PRIEST – Ram It Down

Judas Priest – Ram It Down [Remastered] (2001, Sony Music/Legacy Recordings)
Original Release: 1988, Columbia Records

Track List:
1. “Ram It Down” … 4:48
2. “Heavy Metal” … 5:58
3. “Love Zone” … 3:58
4. “Come and Get It” … 4:07
5. “Hard as Iron” … 4:09
6. “Blood Red Skies” … 7:50
7. “I’m a Rocker” … 3:58
8. “Johnny B. Goode” … 4:39
9. “Love You to Death” … 4:36
10. “Monsters of Rock” … 5:30
BONUS TRACKS
11. “Night Comes Down” (Live) … 4:33
12. “Bloodstone” (Live) … 4:05

Band:
Rob Halford – Vocals
K.K. Downing – Guitar
Glenn Tipton – Guitar
Ian Hill – Bass
Dave Holland – Drums

Produced by: Tom Allom, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing, Rob Halford

A lot of people have denounced Priest’s mid-late 80s output, but I love it. Is it cheesy? Yes, but when have Priest *ever* been able to not veer into the cheesezone every once and a while? Much like with Turbo, this album is a bit commercial sounding, but still is a good heavy metal release.

Supposedly, Ram It Down was actually intended to be the second album of a planned double album release called Twin Turbos. One half would be pop & synth and the other half would be a bit heavier. Priest got cold feet on releasing a double album, so the  end result was 1986’s Turbo (lighter commercial metal) and 1988’s Ram It Down (heavier commercial metal).

“Blood Red Skies” is an epic and classic Priest cut and “Ram It Down” kicks off the album with a great scream from the Metal God. The whole album isn’t as great as these two songs, but Ram It Down is definitely fun, slick heavy metal and a guilty pleasure and I also think the album art is some of the coolest I’ve ever seen.

By the way, Priest did their remasters right– they gave us BONUS TRACKS! Something I wish KISS would’ve done. “It’s remastered, but it again!” No thanks, give me something I can use.

Highlights: “Ram It Down”, “Heavy Metal”, Blood Red Skies”, “I’m a Rocker”, “Love You to Death”

Lowlight: “Johnny B. Goode”. The movie was so bad I couldn’t even finish watching it, and while I can actually get through the whole song, it’s not much better than the movie. Judas Priest had no business covering Chuck Berry.

www.judaspriest.com
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