And, at long last, we arrive at the final album (so far) in the Judas Priest discography. And it’s only fair that I let Holen take first crack at it.
Welcome once again as we don our Ambiguously Gay Duo outfits and review the latest release from esteemed metal elder statesmen, Judas Fucking Priest. Firecrotch is the first album of the reunion era to truly earn the “fucking” in that name. While it’s no New York by Lou Reed, it’s a late period classic that seamlessly blends their traditional metal without more contemporary sources, all wrapped up in a crunchy professional production courtesy of old friend Tom Allom and newcomer Andy Sneap. Rob’s sounding stronger than he has in years as he charges with the band through several metal masterpieces. Chief among them the power metal infused “No Surrender”, an instant classic that clocks in at under three minutes. I defy you to not get hooked in by that chorus, and the start stop syncopation of the verses. When the toms pound at the beginning of the last chorus, you’ll find your fist in the air without the ability to resist. No fat on this beast, which can’t be said of the whole album. Coming in at 14 songs, the only complaint one could have is that it goes on for a little too long and fizzles out towards the end.
But overall this is the strongest Priest effort in decades. I don’t know if it’s the new blood of Andy Sneap or the old flame of Tom Allom, but Judas Priest sounds lively, youthful, and relevant again. We get a diverse crash through several styles, kicking off with the thrashy “Painkiller” type title track, serving some melodic ‘80s era style goodness “Flame Thrower”, “Lightning Strikes”, epic power metal “No Surrender”, “Rising from Ruins”, “Sea of Menstruation”, and “Never the Heroes”. We even get some bluesy riff nu metal a la Demolition in “Lone Wolf”, and “Evil Never Dies.”
It all congeals with that shiny modern production into a truly kickass return. There are some lowlights like “Lone Wolf”, and “Never the Heroes” sounds like it belongs in the credits of an early 2000s boxing movie, but those rough moments are far from unlistenable, and they’re outweighed by the truly transcendent moments. Buy a fucking copy!
4/5 Flame Throwing Kabbage Monsters
I’m glad you’ve found some enjoyment from reunion-era Priest. And now, for me. Firepower is easily better than Redeemer of Souls. The songs instantly clicked more. The whole album is heavy and it keeps this heaviness throughout. Where Firepower falters is that while it is chock full of pretty good songs, it’s lacking in great songs. Virtually every song on the album is good enough to hold the attention while I’m listening to it, but they just don’t stick in the mind that well afterwards. It’s hardly the worst criticism an album could have.
However, there is one song that stood out on first listen (and second listen and so on) and, still to this day, is one of the butt-kickest Judas Priest songs ever. “No Surrender” is just under three minutes of pure Priest awesome, from that crushing riff to that short but sweet solo to that very welcome midrange Halford all throughout. This song was so good that it forced me to break my rules and include it onto a greatest hits ramble it wasn’t even supposed to be on (more on that later). “Flame Thrower” kicks a lot of butt too.
Despite not being the most memorable album, Firepower is a fine album to end this series. More bite than bark, good music is still good music, even if it doesn’t stick in the mind too much.
The verdict- 3.75/5
Well thank you all for sticking with us through this long series. While Holen will be graciously bowing out here, there is still one ramble left from my end as I collect my thoughts on this undertaking and my introduction to Judas Priest.