Sound — 8
A significant alternation within the lineup, as well as the somewhat confusing notion behind what was advertised as the band's farewell tour, surrounded Judas Priest's seventeenth studio album "Redeemer of Souls" with feelings of confusion and doubts about the band's future. This new effort marks the band's first to not include founding member and pivotal songwriter K.K. Downing, who has since been replaced with former Lauren Harris guitarist Richie Faulkner. How Judas Priest would continue without such a driving force behind their approach was unclear, however based on the performance found on this new album, perhaps it was this same shift in the band's roster which ultimately benefited their chemistry.
Coming off of their 2008 studio album "Nostradamus," which received largely mixed responses from dedicated listeners for it's synthesizer-heavy sound, "Redeemer of Souls" serves as a strong return to the classic Judas Priest approach. Surpassing the efforts of the past few decades, the members of Judas Priest revert towards the sound of their hailed late 1970s efforts, such as "Stained Class" and "Sin After Sin." Incorporated in the compilation of elements found throughout "Redeemer of Souls" are moderate elements of the praised heavy metal style of "Painkiller," which is particularly evident during such selections as "Halls of Valhalla" and the striking power chord-fueled "Dragonaut."
"Crossfire" reintroduces Judas Priest's seemingly long forgotten blues rock influences, beginning with a bass line which borrows some of the swing from Black Sabbath's "N.I.B.," before ultimately evolving into a solid rhythm guitar-bracketed anthem. "March of the Damned" and the album's title track "Redeemer of Souls" similarly showcase a more confident musical approach, placing predominant attention towards energetic chord progressions and commanding lead vocals.
"Metalizer" and "Battle Cry" particularly showcases a strong resurgence of the "Angel of Retribution" sound, by pairing scratching high octave vocals with menacing guitar work and thunderous kick drums. A more melodic stance similar to that found on "Ram It Down" surfaces with "Cold Blooded," while "Hell & Back" reincorporates a familiar intricate picking introduction not unlike those consistently found throughout the previously mentioned "Nostradamus." While the album offers more than a few subtle nods to the group's past, the outcome remains strikingly consistent with a performance which couldn't be better developed to appease the appetites of dedicated listeners.
Lyrics — 8
Definitive lead vocalist Rob Halford largely remains to his lower singing octave throughout the majority of the album, which attributes a form of nostalgic quality to "Redeemer of Souls." For a 62 year old heavy metal singer, if he stayed true to this same style it would be more than understandable. However, it arguably wouldn't be an authentic Judas Priest effort without boasting some impressionable primal screams; Rob Halford achieves this same feat on multiple occasions, for example the soaring stance found on the beginning of "Metalizer," and the climatic gradual rise towards the bridge of "Halls of Valhalla." While it's safe to say he uses his operatic weapon sparingly, the range and power of Rob Halford is still remarkably well preserved.
Overall Impression — 8
Following a somewhat questionable double rock opera effort, Judas Priest execute a staggering return to their original approach on their seventeenth studio album, "Redeemer of Souls." The addition of Richie Faulkner seems to have revitalized this veteran heavy metal group, who with his aid as primary songwriter have compiled their most signature sounding release in over a decade.