When I made my gigantic top 100 list last year, this masterpiece was not out yet. Judas Priest’s “Firepower“, the second fantastic album since Richie Faulkner joined the band. The title track gets you right from the start. Classic Priest riff with Rob’s amazing scream fading in, just like I like it (best ever example of this is after the super duper long guitar solo in “Ram it down”, better scream fade-in has never been heard). Drums tight. Rob’s vocals switch from growly and evil to classic screechy and high-pitched.
“Lightning strike” is one of those songs you just know from the start. It’s automatic headbanging and airguitar playing. It’s fast. It’s Priest. It’s awesome.
“Evil never dies” slows it down a bit. Scarier vocals and lyrics, reminds me of “Nightcrawler” (Painkiller, 1990). Then comes “Never the heroes”. More melancholy. Nice, clean bridge that crosses over in a catchy chorus.
OH, NECROMANCER! Love this song. Creepy backing vocals. “BORN OUT OF HELL, FROM THE DEPTHS OF GOMORRA”. Very scary. Rob is scary. I love it. Thumpy chorus with off-key vocals. Oh and the guitar solo. Richie is one of my favorite guitarists ever. I cannot be happier with him joining the band. Such an asset.
Anyway! “Children of the sun” is stompy and kind of weird in its progression, but once you learn it you have to love it. Also it has this pretty guitar/vocal part at 1:45 which is both haunting and sad.
Ok! Break in the thumpy metalness with “Guardians”. Short instrumental halfway through the album. Gorgeousness for my ears. Wonderful build-up that culminates in the beginning riff to “Rising from ruins”. Another melancholy song with lots of emotional input from Rob. Great riffage (yes it’s a word) that teases you through the song behind an amazing vocal arrangement. Next up is “Flame thrower”, which has a great 80’s sound. Unexpected vocal progression on the chorus (and in other places as well actually). Love it. Nice chunky guitar.
SPECTRE! I love this so much. Riffy. More scariness. It’s like having the metal god telling you a scary bedtime story. Actually, it IS that. But with guitars. Even the way he says “TERRAH!” (terror) is awesome. This also reminds me of “Nightcrawler”. Makes you look over your shoulder, while banging your head. Beautiful guitar dueling. This is a piece of ART.
Okay, now “Traitors gate”. Slow guitar intro. Makes you think this is going to be laid back. NOPE. Enter Richie. RIFFY. SO RIFFY. Powerful vocals. I can’t believe Rob still sounds like this. Live too. OUT OF THE DAAARK, INTO THE LIIIIGHT. This is so good.
“No surrender” is riffy from the start. Classic Priest sound. I could read this album as a book. Love all the lyrics on this album. This song is just clean catchy metal. Short guitar solo at 2min makes a nice break in the thumpyness.
Ooooh “Lone wolf” is an unexpectedly groovy track. “HEY! I AM THE VOICE OF YOUR ANGER”. Yes. Yes, you are, Rob. We thank you for it. This song is aces. The groove is a nice change from the rest of the album. Excellent surprise quiet guitar/vocal part at 3:13 that gives me goosebumps and then breaks out in total guitar metalness.
Last on the album is “Sea of red”. Reminder of songs like “Blood red skies” (Ram it down, 1990) and “Before the dawn” (Hell bent for leather / Killing machine, 1978). Slow. Haunting. Sad.
Wow. I forgot how amazing this album is through and through. You can’t go wrong with this if you’re into riffy, thumpy metal with amazing vocals. These guys are geniuses. Long live the Priest.