Music Review: Judas Priest's scores with 'Nostradamus'

Thursday, June 26, 2008

@SL_body_copy_ragged:I had a premonition Judas Priest would make an album like this. But not even the 16th-century seer credited by some with predicting events centuries later could have known it would be this good.

The two-CD set marks the British metal quintet's first concept album, a fascinating telling of the life and times of Nostradamus, the self-proclaimed prophet, his predictions and turbulent life.

More a continuous narrative than a collection of individual songs, the album flows from one topic into the next; it's often difficult to know where one track ends and another begins. But that's the point with an album like this, which tells a story with music as well as lyrics. (Think Trans-Siberian Orchestra in black leather and studs, riding Harleys.)

Topics include Nostradamus' predictions of war, pestilence and revolution; his clash with church authorities; and his musings on the future of the human race.

Singer Rob Halford is perfectly positioned to channel Nostradamus, with his sometimes demonic voice as scary in the low registers as it is in the air-raid siren higher ones. At times operatic, at times frenetic, Halford puts his legendary vocal cords to the test here, and wins every time.

But it's instrumentally that Priest really blossoms here, adding keyboards, strings and droning medieval choruses to the trademark screaming guitars and bashing bass and drums. The musical style of fellow Birmingham metallurgists Black Sabbath (Priest's summer touring partners this year) are evident as well on tracks like "Death," which owes more than a little to Sabbath's self-titled track "Black Sabbath."

-- Associated Press

CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: The title track doesn't come until near the end of the second disc, but it's the closest to classic Judas Priest you'll find on the album. Starting out with Halford's trademark wail, thrashing double-bass drums and twin guitar riffs reminiscent of "Painkiller," this track will satisfy the beast within, which might be a tad weary of violins and wanting some violence by the end of this two-disc opus.

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