Rod Liddle

Judas Priest: Firepower

Kerrang! describes Judas Priest’s 18th album, Firepower, as being like ‘an atomic bomb’. In that it should be illegal?

Judas Priest: Firepower
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They’re still alive, then. Chuggedy-chug, grawk, screech screech, chuggedy-chug. First mention of demons — line one, song two. Song one is about blowing people to bits with firepower, cos they’re really EVIL. There are spurts of lead guitar that sound like knives slashing at an empty plate and those strange, pompous, strangulated vocals — operatic diva meets Freddy Krueger — common to most UK heavy metal. Anything to hide the Brummie accent, I suppose.

Thank you, the West Midlands, for foisting on the world the blind alley of HM, blues with the rhythm, wit and soul replaced by volume and bellowing and posturing and almost continual references to the poor fucking devil (who clearly didn’t get all the best songs). And thank you especially for Judas Priest — a band who, back in the 1970s, even fans of Uriah Heep thought were a bit naff. Priest had the right posture, but always failed to come up with songs possessed of a good, dumb, iconic hook, like ‘Woman From Tokyo’ or ‘Easy Livin’’. Later they hitched themselves to the coat-tails of the new wave of British heavy metal at the end of the 1970s — but again, they never delivered an ‘Ace of Spades’ or ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’. Just the same chuggedy-chug with portentous, meaningless lyrics that only a retarded 14-year-old World of Warcraft addict could possibly admire.

But hell, they’re still going, which is something. This is their 18th album, and described by Kerrang! as being a bit like ‘an atomic bomb’. In that it should be illegal? ‘Just a bit better than Budgie’ is my verdict. And boy, were Budgie shit.