Redeemer of Souls is the lead single and title track off Judas Priest’s first studio album in six years, to be released in July.
It kicks off with archetypal crunchy guitar riffs, crashing cymbals and cavernous drums that threaten to swallow the recording whole. The band then gallops down the highway with the frenetic pace of their legendary hit Breaking the Law, the pomp of the Pirates of the Caribbean theme music and the bounce of Ring Around The Rosy.
Listeners can feel the gates of hell opening in anticipation for vocalist Rob Halford, one of the greatest heavy metal vocalists of all time. His rousing, vibrato-laden vocals ring clear without betraying his age, though listeners may miss his high screams just a bit. Halford’s passion particularly shines through in the bridge; it’s hard not to imagine him having the crowd in the palm of his hand during live performances.
Despite the camp and cliché lyrics (‘come down, coming your way’), the band has always been over the top and it’s the music that matters. The chant-like, catchy choruses are a nihilistic, sinister sing-along that is bound to go down well with concertgoers. The song’s atmosphere is devilishly dark as the guitars snarl and solos trade back and forth during the instrumental section.
Redeemer of Souls is proof of Judas Priest’s legendary status in heavy metal. It is a strong comeback anthem that could only be perfected by better lyrics or if Halford could throw in a few iconic shrieks here and there, but that might be asking for too much.