As Judas Priest's legendary singer Rob Halford himself might say, "The Priest Is Back!". Redeemer Of Souls is the first new Judas Priest album in six years and after their 2008 concept album Nostradamus, Redeemer Of Souls sees a return to the classic "Judas Priest Heavy Metal" sound the band have been associated with for the majority of their four decades long career. But is it any good?
Redeemer' gets off to a storming start in the shape of Dragonaut - which is everything you'd expect from classic Priest - full of riffs courtesy of new guitarist Richie Faulkner and a big singalong. The title track is much in the same vein, enjoyable with Scott Travis pummelling his way through the song behind the drum kit though Rob Halford's vocals seem a little underpowered on this occasion. The highlight of the album comes in the shape of the storming Halls Of Valhalla, which is possibly the finest Judas Priest song since 1991. A brilliant main riff and mesmerizing guitar work throughout from Richie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton, pummelling drums and thumping bass, topped off with a cracking solo and Halford flexing his still very impressive vocal range results in one of the best metal songs the listener is likely to hear all year.
The problem with Redeemer Of Souls is that it just cannot keep up it's momentum and there are several songs that feel like filler material in the second half of the album. Sword Of Damocles and March Of The Damned are enjoyable enough without leaving a lasting impact and what follows is largely instantly forgettable. That having been said, the album does rouse itself for a tremendous finish. Battle Cry is a live anthem in waiting (featuring another tremendous performance from Halford) and Beginning Of The End, which is an atmospheric album closer in the vein of Beyond The Realms Of Death with some of the guitar work bordering on a blues feel.
Overall, Redeemer Of Souls is a decent return to form for The Priest. It is by no means a classic to sit alongside the likes of Defenders Of The Faith or Painkiller, but it is far from their worst either. Redeemer Of Souls will sit comfortably in the Judas Priest back catalogue and be regarded in years to come as an album with three or four really good songs but also the album where they returned to their core sound. If they do make another album after Redeemer Of Souls it will be interesting to see what they do with it. If this is the last Judas Priest album, then it can be regarded as a mostly enjoyable window into what The Priest is all about.