Judas Priest released its 17th studio album, Redeemer of Souls, today, and I've been giving it a listen. All in all, I've gotta say that the British metal legends deliver the goods on the 13-track CD—which includes an extra five tunes on a bonus disc if you're lucky enough to get Sony Music to send you the deluxe edition for review purposes.
As lead singer Rob Halford would no doubt say, it's "classic Priest". I wouldn't trade it for my copy of Screaming for Vengeance, but it definitely sounds like newish guitarist Richie Faulkner—who replaced founding member K.K. Downing after he officially retired in 2011—is fitting in well alongside fellow fretburner Glenn Tipton.
The tune that really caught my ear on Redeemer, though, was track 12, "Battle Cry". About half a minute into that song it becomes strikingly similar to the ascending (or is it descending?) guitar part Iron Maiden's Adrian Smith plays at the beginning of "Wasted Years", a song he wrote for Maiden's 1986 Somewhere in Time album.
Now, Priest only lifts Smith's licks for about 15 seconds, so it's not the biggest musical ripoff of all time. Maybe it's not a ripoff at all—just a brief homage to another merry band of British noisemakers.
Either way, I'm not complaining, because I love anything that sounds like "Wasted Years". Especially "Wasted Years" itself.
But whether anybody else notices the similarity between "Wasted Years" and "Battle Cry"—or even cares—there's little doubt that it will lead to any lawsuits and such, because Priest has definitely had its full of those.
And I can't see Halford and Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson getting into a punch-up over it, either. Back in 2008, when Priest was touring behind it's Nostradamus double-album, I asked Halford during a phone interview if there was any competition between Priest and Maiden, and he took a diplomatic approach.
“There’s always been a tremendous feeling that we’re all doin’ the same thing as far as taking our British metal all over the planet,” he proclaimed. “And the roots of metal are where I’m talking to you from today, in the Midlands [of England]. This is where it all started, with Priest and Sabbath. And then, of course, the new wave of heavy metal started in the ’80s, with bands like Maiden and so on.
"So we’re all flyin’ the flag, so to speak. We’re all going strong, and things are fantastic.”
In other Judas Priest news, yesterday the group announced a bunch of North American tour dates. So if you thought that "final tour" that hit Vancouver in 2011 was its last, you've got another thing comin'...