Heavy metal godfathers Judas Priest are garnering hard-earned praise on their Redeemer of Souls Tour. Over the last five years or so, the band has seemed tired. It seemed as though their time was up. Now, Priest are back with a crisp new record and a revitalized presence on stage. Most noticeable is the much-improved health of legendary frontman Rob Halford. I saw Priest on the Metal Masters Tour in 2008, and Halford appeared to be in obvious physical pain. He spent a majority of the show stationary and hunched over. At the 2013 Revolver Golden God Awards, Halford performed with Five Finger Death Punch using a walking cane. After successful back surgery just days before the new album dropped, Halford is back in excellent health. He was mobile on stage, interacting with his bandmates as well as the crowd. Most importantly, he was singing with power and looking like the great rock vocalist he has been for over 30 years.
The band kicked off their fall trek on October 1 at the Main Street Armory in Rochester, NY and just a few days later, the band co-headlined Louder Than Life Festival in Louisville, KY on October 4 alongside Korn, Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington, and Limp Bizkit, plus many other featured acts. Last night at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ, Priest unleashed four tracks from their new record, and treated fans to career highlights like “Jawbreaker”, “Turbo Lover”, “Breaking The Law”, “Hell Bent For Leather”, “Defenders of The Faith”, “Living After Midnight”, and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’.” Sure, there were a few songs missing that fans would have loved to hear, but when a band surpasses the 30-year mark of their career, choosing a setlist can prove to be difficult. This 2014 North American leg wraps up on November 18 at the Maverik Center in Salt Lake City, UT.
The band’s new disc dropped back on July 14 in the UK via Columbia Records and July 15 in the US via Epic Records. “Sometimes in the past we may have come under fire for being too adventurous musically, so we have listened,” said guitarist Glenn Tipton. “From start to finish, Redeemer of Souls is 18 songs of pure classic-Priest metal.” The record is themuch-anticipated follow-up to the band’s 2008 double concept album Nostradamus which debuted at #11 on the Billboard Top 200. The band proceeded to tour the world in support of the record from 2008-2009, which included a Metal Masters run with Heaven & Hell, Motörhead, and Testament.
After touring in support of Nostradamus, founding guitarist K.K. Downing retired from the band in 2011. This new album will be the band’s first studio effort to feature new guitarist Richie Faulkner, who toured with the band on their Epitaph Tour from 2011-2012. Faulkner has had some big shoes to fill, but he’s risen to the occasion and helped Priest keep their signature double-ax attack. Part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Judas Priest are widely considered godfathers of traditional heavy metal music. To date, the band has sold over 50 million albums worldwide. In 2010, the band garnered the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. – by Matt Bishop