Concert Review – Judas Priest – 50 Heavy Metal Years (First Ontario Centre, Hamilton, ON, 04/13/2022)

The Priest finally returned to Ontario, Canada to celebrate 50 years of their undisputed Heavy Metal.

OPENING ACTS: Queensrÿche

Finally, after exactly 880 excruciating days (as my last metal concert was Cannibal Corpse in Toronto on November 15, 2019), I was able to attend a metal concert, and the adrenaline rushing through my veins last night was worth every penny spent in the ticket. The place chosen for my “return” was the nice First Ontario Centre, and the first band I had the pleasure to see on stage after so long was the iconic American Heavy Metal band QUEENSRŸCHE, who led by the talented frontman Todd La Torre put on a great show to properly warm up the crowd for the almighty JUDAS PRIEST.

Blending songs from their most successful album to date, Operation: Mindcrime, those being the title-track Operation: Mindcrime, The Needle Lies and Eyes of a Stranger, with other hits such as their first-ever single Queen of the Reich and the excellent Walk in the Shadows, Todd and his henchmen received a standing ovation from the audience when their performance was over, showing why they’re one of the most respected bands from the 80’s. My only complaint has nothing to do with their setlist, even with “Silent Lucidity” being left out of it, but with the fact that the doors of the First Ontario Centre opened at 7:30pm and it wasn’t even 7:45pm when the band hit the stage, which means a lot of people missed their concert due to such limited time to get to their spots. They should have been given at least 30 minutes to start their show, but it is what it is.

Setlist
Queen of the Reich
Warning
En Force
NM 156
Empire
Walk in the Shadows
The Whisper
Operation: Mindcrime
The Needle Lies
Take Hold of the Flame
Screaming in Digital
Eyes of a Stranger

Band members
Todd La Torre – vocals
Michael Wilton – guitars
Mike Stone – guitars
Eddie Jackson – bass
Casey Grillo – drums

JUDAS PRIEST

After a not-so-long break, it was time for my metal heart to pump frantically once again after over two years thanks to one of the most important and electrifying institutions in the history of rock and metal music, my beloved JUDAS PRIEST. Celebrating 50 years alive and kicking on their tour simply called “Judas Priest – 50 Heavy Metal Years”, which unfortunately had to be postponed a few times due to several reasons, the band comprised of the one and only Metal God Rob Halford on vocals, Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap on the guitars, Ian Hill on bass, and Scott Travis on drums took the crowd on a magical journey through 50 years of the purest and most crystalline Heavy Metal you can think of, from their 1974 classic Rocka Rolla to one of their most recent hits Lightning Strike. It was a fusion of nostalgia, perfection, adrenaline, happiness and so many other great feelings it’s hard to describe everything in just a few words, proving why Judas Priest have always been one of the pillars of traditional Heavy Metal alongside Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath.

The setlist chosen by Mr. Robert John Arthur Halford and his bandmates, as aforementioned, was a thing of beauty, inspiring all fans at the first Ontario Centre to keep screaming, banging their heads and raising their horns high in the air while the band delivered some precious gems of heavy music the likes of Freewheel Burning, Turbo Lover, Blood Red Skies, Electric Eye, Hell Bent for Leather and Breaking the Law. However, as a huge fan of the album Painkiller, which is by the way one of my top metal albums of all time, it was a true pleasure witnessing Judas Priest playing not one, not two, not three, but FOUR songs from that masterpiece, the majestic One Shot at Glory, the metallic hymn Hell Patrol, the stunning A Touch of Evil, and of course the all-time classic, fan-favorite, hard-hitting aria Painkiller, with Scott doing a fun intro where he not only talked about how much the band loves Canada, but also throwing some last minute jokes about how the band would have to play until Sunday if they played every song requested by the audience (and he even forgot it was a Wednesday, not a Thursday). Halford was on fire in all of those songs delivering his trademark high-pitched screams and interacting with the fans in great fashion, supported of course by the amazing guitar by Richie, and by the way it was great seeing Richie is fully recovered from last year’s scary incident.

Of course, everyone who attended the concert in Hamilton yesterday wanted to see Glenn Tipton joining the band for the encore just like what he’s done several times since he opened up about his fight against Parkinson’s disease, especially due to the fact it was the very last concert of their 2022 North American tour, but I’m sure Glenn had his reasons for not playing with the band last night. Moreover, after the last notes of the closing song Living After Midnight were played by the band, the background screen showed in capital letters the message “THE PRIEST WILL BE BACK”, so I guess there will be more opportunities in the future for Glenn to kick some serious ass on stage with a band that not just represents Heavy Metal to perfection, but a band that is Heavy Metal, period. And may Judas Priest keep coming back to Canada for more of their unparalleled performances for another 50 years.

Setlist
Battle Hymn
One Shot at Glory
Lightning Strike
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
Freewheel Burning
Turbo Lover
Hell Patrol
The Sentinel
A Touch of Evil
Rocka Rolla
Victim of Changes
Desert Plains
Blood Red Skies
The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)
Diamonds & Rust
Painkiller

Encore:
The Hellion
Electric Eye
Hell Bent for Leather
Breaking the Law

Encore 2:
Living After Midnight

Band members
Rob Halford – vocals
Richie Faulkner – guitar
Andy Sneap – guitar
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Scott Travis – drums

Album Review – Judas Priest / Redeemer of Souls (2014)

The Metal Gods are finally back with another marvellous sonic storm forged in the fires of pure Heavy Metal.

Rating1

Redeemer-of-souls-album-cover-art-1280Take a look at the imposing album art of the awesome Redeemer of Souls, the highly anticipated brand new album by the unbeatable English Metal Gods Judas Priest, and there’s only one word that will come to your mind: METAL. That’s it, pure Heavy Metal. No experimentations, no synths, no electronic shenanigans, nor any other non-traditional Heavy Metal stuff. Even the production of the album sounds fresher and rawer than usual, despite many people complaining about it. After six long years since the good but controversial Nostradamus, the Priest is finally back to their basics, and this time it looks like it’s for good.

First of all, Redeemer of Souls, their seventeenth studio album in over 40 years of history (an impressive milestone, by the way), perspires Heavy Metal. As aforementioned, the band “abandoned” all the experimental stuff of the past two decades and opted for a 100% direct sonority, selecting what’s best in some of their classic albums such as Painkiller, Ram It Down and Sin After Sin, blending it with some interesting elements from Halford’s solo career, and adding an extra dose of energy to all songs, which is astonishing given the fact all band members, except for Richie Faulkner, are over 50 or 60 years old. And secondly, although I miss K.K. Downing and his phenomenal razing guitar duos with Glenn Tipton, Richie is indeed a pretty decent replacement for him and this is proven with his excellent contribution to this album.

But it’s when the music actually starts that you remember why they’re called the Metal Gods: it’s impossible not to fall in love for the opening track, the fantastic Dragonaut, with its “stormy” intro, heavy riffs, straight-forward lyrics and catchy chorus (“Fire in the sky paralyzed with fear / You know you´re gonna die / Dragonaut is near”), and everything else! If this song had been recorded back in the 80’s  or 90’s, it would have become one of Priest’s all-time classics without a shadow of a doubt. Then comes the title-track, Redeemer of Souls, a mix of “Dissident Aggressor” and “Hell Patrol” that is everything old Priest fans wanted to hear again. The lyrics couldn’t sound more Priest than this (“Count down coming your way / He’s the last to obey / Watch him seizing the day / Redeemer – redeemer of souls”),  and I can’t wait to do some air guitar with this song when Judas Priest come to town.

Judas PriestWithout a single second of boredom, the band keeps the energy level really high with the epic Halls of Valhalla (or maybe I should say “VALHALLAAAAAA!”), which I’m sure will become a fan-favourite especially due to its lyrics and chorus and will also sound superb when played live, followed by Sword of Damocles, another mighty track with a great initial riff blended with heavy and melodic drumming (with Mr. Scott Travis sounding as awesome as usual). Moreover, even after 40 years I’m still impressed with how metallic and captivating Halford’s voice always sounds, and it’s a pure delight to follow him declaiming the lyrics for this song so intensely. The next track, March of the Damned, has a very Hard Rock sonority with highlights to another great work done by Richie and Glenn, while Down in Flames can be considered the most “Halford” song of the entire album (it could have easily been part of his latest solo album Made of Metal).

Then we have another of the top songs of the album, Hell & Back, with a beautiful smooth intro followed by Ian Hill’s strong bass lines, more excellent heavy riffs perfect for that slow headbanging while having a cold beer, and an awesome fast ending; and Cold Blooded, which despite it’s nice rhythm, lacks more feeling an ends up being just an average song. And what can I say about a song called Metalizer? It’s as heavy as it can be, from the riffs to the drumming, from Halford’s voice to the strong chorus, with lots of similarities to “Demonizer” and “Hellrider” from Angel of Retribution.

I simply love the fact that Redeemer of souls doesn’t have only 9 or 10 songs and basically no intros or bridges, because there’s still a lot more to come. Crossfire seems to be some kind of tribute to Dio and Black Sabbath, with its intro and many other parts sounding like “I” from the excellent album Dehumanizer; while Secrets of the Dead is a slow and dark tune, one of the most melodic of the entire album, with its nice guitar solos and interesting narration in the middle enhancing its overall quality.

And lastly, the final two songs of the regular version of the album showcase a truly inspired band and leave us fans avid for more Priest: the mighty Battle Cry, with its epic guitar intro followed by pure Heavy Metal riffs and vocals, has one of those rising chorus tailored to be sung at full force by all fans at their live performances (and Halford might not reach the same notes from the past, but he’s still the Metal God); and the passionate ballad Beginning of the End, with its melancholic intro, has a really nice touch of some very old Priest classics like “Last Rose of Summer” and “Before the Dawn” highlights to Halford’s voice once again, closing the album in a very pleasant way. And don’t miss the deluxe edition, which comes with five extra brand new tracks by the Metal Gods to make things even better.

Judas Priest With Special Guests Black Label Society & Thin Lizzy In ConcertIn summary, the beautiful name of the album, just like the band did many times in the past as in Sad Wings of Destiny (the most beautiful name ever), Angel of Retribution and Defenders of the Faith, together with Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton and Scott Travis kicking some serious ass and the fiery and metallic album art, make Redeemer of Souls a must-have album for any fan of good music – second to none I should say if compared to most releases from any band in the past 10 or 15 years. I hate comparing what a band is currently doing with what they did in the past as I understand time goes by and people inevitably change, but in this case it’s amazing how the Metal Gods were able to “go back in time” without sounding cheesy, repetitive or outdated. Judas Priest might be celebrating 40 years of their debut album Rocka Rolla, released in 1974, but it looks like it’s the fans who are being presented with another great album forged in the fires of true Heavy Metal.

Best moments of the album: Dragonaut, Halls of Valhalla, Sword of Damocles, Hell & Back and Battle Cry.

Worst moments of the album: Cold Blooded might not be bad, but it ends up being the only song not as powerful as the rest of the album.

Released in 2014 Epic Records/Columbia Records

Track listing
1. Dragonaut 4:26
2. Redeemer of Souls 3:58
3. Halls of Valhalla 6:04
4. Sword of Damocles 4:54
5. March of the Damned 3:55
6. Down in Flames 3:56
7. Hell & Back 4:46
8. Cold Blooded 5:25
9. Metalizer 4:37
10. Crossfire 3:51
11. Secrets of the Dead 5:41
12. Battle Cry 5:18
13. Beginning of the End 5:07

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
14. Snakebite 3:14
15. Tears Of Blood 4:19
16. Creatures 4:25
17. Bring It On 3:18
18. Never Forget 6:25

Band members
Rob Halford – vocals
Glenn Tipton – guitar
Richie Faulkner – guitar
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Scott Travis – drums