Judas Priest – Firepower (2018)

Judas Priest came from that intermediate stage between proto-metal and hard rock that emphasized really intense conclusions to compelling but basic riffs, and with Firepower, the band returns to form by delivering those moments of ritual ascension in which the foot-stomping, hand-flinging, and head-thrashing impulses join a sense of profundity through consilience as each track comes together.

Following up on their recent work which ventures more into rock and hard rock, Firepower specializes in heavy hard rock riffs and vocal hooks to bring in the audience, then leads each song to a point where its conflict detonates and results in an entirely different mood, something between militant intolerance of illusion and a mythological compulsion (thymos) to aspire to greatness and significance.

Each song on this album demonstrates distinction from the others by its melody and the techniques that enhance it, so despite very similar guitar riffs and initial vocal gambits, these songs stand out and become infectious. A typical song starts with a trudging riff that picks up pace as the vocals flesh out melody, leading to a type of complex architecture where an occult central melody emerges through vocals.

As usual, the Judas Priest formula of half-ballad half-jeremiad works well for them. Softer parts of songs lead into moments of profundity which transition from simple hooks to melodies which have a sense of gravitas, and this creates the definitive “heavy metal experience”: moving from the human to the greater-than-human, a mixture of history and mythology, in which the individual loses himself in the larger order.

Stronger than the last twenty years of output from this band, Firepower shows Judas Priest returning to their 1980s form with the slightest touch of newer technique, but mostly an emphasis on songwriting, because the distinctive melodies paired with riffs are what deliver that sense of unity with the world that makes heavy metal great.

Despite personnel shakeups, Judas Priest returns with a powerful album because it is both listenable and challenging, much like the highest moments of their career such as Painkiller, merging the heavy with the human. Classic heavy metal fans as well as those who enjoy any quality music will find something to enjoy in Firepower, one of the few heavy metal releases of late to be truly memorable.


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26 thoughts on “Judas Priest – Firepower (2018)”

  1. chad says:

    Yep, might have to get those summer tickets after all!

  2. Svmmoned says:

    Rob is a twat nonetheless. I read today that he want to form a black metal project and to collaborate with Ihsahn and Nergal. And that he, as a homosexual, “fights for equality.”

    1. NWN War Metal Tranny Rapist says:

      That will be the gayest band ever.

    2. 11YearOldMetalHead says:

      Exactly. This is purely a power metal album. People are comparing ‘Firepower’ to ‘Angel’ or ‘Vengeance’. There were some fairly cringey things about this album, like the Voodoo-ish bridge in the middle of “Evil Never Dies” or the whole “Devil Went Down To Georgia” reference in that same song. Also, Necromancer being so moany and groany. I still can’t comprehend WHY Priest would go with a “hard rock”/”NEW metal” sound. But with Glenn not playing on tour, and most likely not the album itself, it just degrades it that good bit more. And KK saying, “well, why didn’t let ME take Glenn’s place on tour?” like the answer isn’t obvious.

    3. 11YearOldMetalHead says:

      Sorry, this is supposed to reply to ihateeveryone.

  3. ihateeveryone says:

    This album is uninspired and boring and has nothing to do with Priests output in the 80’s. Not sure about the hard and heavy riffs, lol, most of the tracks on this record could easily be played on the radio.

    1. chad says:

      And Screaming for Vengeance tracks couldn’t?

      1. canadaspaceman says:

        I remember when Screaming for Vengeance was out, at least half the tracks were played regularly on FM hard rock stations for years, and especially “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” was on all hours of the day.
        Even some of Defenders of the Faith got a lot of airplay, with “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” played all the time, all day, not just the night slots.
        Sure, Turbo was a huge sell-out, being pure pop metal, but that album’s videos and radio airplay, and the court case, finally put Judas Priest’s name in the minds of everyone who knew nothing about metal, besides maybe Black Sabbath or Ozzy from the news or TV shows like Entertainment Tonight…

        1. ihateeveryone says:

          Point taken. Statement was wrongly elucidated.

          1. canadaspaceman says:

            The more I listen, you are correct, but doubt these songs will get any airplay w/o payola.

  4. xelenaz says:

    This album caught me off guard. I was expecting yet another “meh” offering from an aging metal band, and got something I can genuinely call good. Maybe now that KK is out (and Glenn too, pretty much) what remains of the band suddenly has this renewed sense that they have something to prove? Whether you can still truly name it “Judas Priest” is anyone’s call, but this is good stuff. Metallica, Maiden, and Slayer should now be doubly ashamed since this band is like a decade older than they are and still wipes the floor with their recent attempts at relevance.

    As for Rob, meh… homos are always more interesting and creative people when they’re in the closet, “suffering artist” trope or whatnot. Once he went public with teh gay, of course the warm hug of the mainstream was too tempting to avoid, and the politicized/weaponized sexual identity crap came right along with it. At least he keeps the poz out of the music.

    Also, it should be said that the ’70s were Priest’s peak in quality, not the ’80s.

  5. ass donuts says:

    “… because it is both listenable”
    High praise indeed
    “and challenging”
    yeah, challenging to stay awake through the whole album

    When the title track came out, I worried that this album was pretty much going to be entirely written by Andy Sneap, considering it sounded like everything else he’s involved in. But then when that flaming turd “Never the Heroes” dropped I realized I should be careful what I wish for–that song is unmistakably Priest at their worst. Only Judas Priest is clueless enough to put something so cackhanded and bloodless in an otherwise serviceable album. This must be what people felt like hearing “Love Bites” on Defenders in the 80s.

    Yeah, it’s better than anything Slayer/Metallica/Sabbath et al have done lately–you can thank Sneap for that regardless of how many riffs he did or didn’t pen, he has a way of making dinosaur bands sound about 20 years younger.

    I understand the impulse to want to find value in it all too well. With any music you could possibly want to hear 5 seconds a way on youtube, the role of bands as “institutions” and cultural cross-pollinators is pretty much obsolete–a Maiden or Priest album is no longer a state of the union address. They’re much smaller than we realized in the 80s. But it’s hard to let go, and Visigoths don’t fill Judas Priest-shaped holes. So we roll our eyes at the prospect of a new album, then we listen to it anyway and collectively muse “well, it’s better than the last Slayer album..”

    1. thewaters says:

      Black Sabbath’s last album was really good, easily there best since Mob Rules. It might even be better than Mob Rules.

      1. frank rizzo says:

        what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  6. I'm black says:

    It’s not terrible but I’d not be able to compare to painkiller. Just way beyond time to stop making records as with most of these classic metal bands.

  7. David Rosales says:

    I’ll take this any day over Painkiller.
    Thank you for the heads up, Brett!

  8. 1349 says:

    Thanks for the review.
    These fags have managed to create an album that sounds quite manly and even… uh… threatening. At least more threatening than anything Enslaved released in the last 15 years.
    Even the “ballads” aren’t too whiny (mostly).

    Don’t know if it’ll be suitable for repeated listens but at least I listened to it twice in a 6 hours period without a wish to turn it off.

    ALSO, the album pulled me away from my work. It makes you listen to it, draws your attention. Which indicates it’s something decent.

  9. Manimal says:

    This album reminds me of some of the recent Accept albums, simple meat and potatoes Metal. The most disappointing thing about this album is the lack of deviant gay sex innuendos, their 80’s material was overflowing with it.

  10. Fangorn says:

    Necromancer is amazing

    1. Manimal says:

      The middle of Children of The Sun is fantastic.

      1. Fangorn says:

        I think the reason why ‘Necromancer’ is better than other tracks: the song is driven by the different rhythms of RIFF to push forward, rather than echoing with the singer, or simply accompaniment in background.

        Well.. the middle of Children of The Sun is fantastic, but I don’t personally like hard rock or blus solo..

  11. canadaspaceman says:

    half the tracks are pretty good.. seems to be the method of all major bands these days (incl.Megadeth, Metallica, Black Sabbath, etc) to pad their albums with filler material.
    They probably don’t have a filter. OR everybody is too afraid to tell them to their faces when they make boring shit.

  12. Rainer Weikusat says:

    This really makes me feel as if I was 30 years younger.

    Now, imagine it’s 1988, you’re 15 and stuck in a boarding school in a remote area of the Palatinate you’ve been ‘deported to’ for being “pedagogically unmanageable”. Hip hop hasn’t happened yet. Hair spray is more important than people. And cowboy boots are more important than both. Everyone claims to worship plastic rock imitations like this.

    All hail the glorious neon people!
    If your colours don’t shine bright, you might as well die.


    1. Hing Dinger says:

      HING DING!!!

  13. David Rosales says:

    I want Rob to be my turbo lover

  14. flow says:

    I don’t understand, is this some at least quasi-intellectual site about heavy rock, or is it inane teenage propaganda “power metal” site?

    Fiyapowaa petrifies…

    Are you sane?

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