Judas Priest

Atlantic Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


After a four-year break, the new lineup of Judas Priest featuring vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens (who replaced the legendary Rob Halford) resurfaced on a major label in 2001 to release Demolition, the band's 15th studio album.

In a nutshell, this is not your father's Judas Priest. Demolition is the sound of a veteran band trying to update their sound by channelling both the bands that influenced them and the ones they themselves influenced.

This experimental approach seems to manifest itself in a strange mix of evil, mid-tempo sounding guitar riffs reminiscent of Black Sabbath, metronomic downtuned Rammstein-style headbanging riffs, and many odd little guitar noise effects straight out of the Korn and Marilyn Manson textbooks (unfortunately mostly at the expense of traditional solos).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Now if that description finds you recoiling in horror, I should quickly add that the final result is not as bad as it might seem. Demolition is a powerful release with a surprising level of listenable consistency for a modern metal album by one of the genre's pioneers. Judas Priest could have seriously embarrassed themselves by going in this direction and done their reputation irreparable harm, but they come through virtually unscathed. It's certainly far, far better than some of the unforgivable dreck they released during their classic years, such as 1988's disastrous Ram It Down.

My problems with the disc (there's always something, isn't there?) are twofold. 1) There are too many songs, and the songs themselves are way too long. Since most of them sound more or less similar, there is no reason to include 13 songs. I was getting bored in the second half. And of those 13, only two are less than five minutes long. The lack of editing is exhausting, to be frank. 2) Tim "Ripper" Owens. He's a competent singer, I suppose, but rather a generic-sounding metal "growler." Add to that his annoying chameleon tendencies -- he seems to spend a lot of time imitating other singers, mostly Jonathan Davis of Korn, but occasionally also Marilyn Manson and even Ronnie James Dio. Rob Halford's absence really hurts…it just isn't really Judas Priest without him, no matter how hard they try.

Demolition, while no classic, is a much better effort than anyone could expect from a late-period, non-Halford fronted version of Judas Priest, and provides an interesting look at the band during an unpopular, experimental period. One can only wonder where they would have gone musically in the future had the classic lineup not reformed in 2003, ending Owens' six-year stint with the band.

Rating: B-

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