(OK so it has taken me more than "a few days" to get a chance to post my thoughts about the new Priest album. Forgive me, for I have been extremely busy these past few weeks! Rather than give a condensed review, I decided to go track by track on this monster of an album!)
Dawn Of Creation/Prophecy -
Great start to everything... nice instrumental intro into a huge riff and then followed by the legendary Halford vocals! This is one of those tracks that is easy to get stuck in your head, especially with the singable "I am Nostradamus" chorus. A bit cheesy, but it works.
Another "intro/song" combo... I'm very skeptical when bands do this on a record, but it really works well in these cases. The flow of this album thus far is superb. The next song, "Revelations", is a decent track in its own right. It does a great job setting up the coming of the prophet. The 2-headed guitar beast known as K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton finally make their presence known about halfway through the track with a very tasty solo!
The Four Horsemen/War -
Quiet intro into a very different song from what I am used to hearing from Judas Priest. Obviously, with a name like "War", it has to be somewhat dark... this track is very apocalyptic and foreboding. I really enjoy the orchestral part in the middle of the song with the marching drums in the distance. So far, this my favorite song on the album!
Sands Of Time/Pestilence And Plague -
After all these years, Rob Halford's singing voice is damn near flawless! That is just impressive to me. From another intro, we enter another heavier track. Is that French I hear? Well, I guess that makes sense... when in Rome, right? Wait... never mind that doesn't make any sense.
The atmosphere of death and doom is done very well... creepy vocals, driving guitars and almost a funeral dirge feel to it. Yet another new place Priest has traveled to! Right toward the end of the song, it becomes yet another shredfest for Downing & Tipton.
Peace is not as fun as Death and Pestilence apparently... this is the only part of this album that I haven't really dug. Kind of a flat sounding intro, but the next song it segues into is good. Not really a stand-out track by any means though.
Lost Love -
Much like the song "Angel" off of Priest's last album, 'Angel Of Retrubution', it's a very slow one. Thankfully, it's only a 4 minute track and I'm sure it's just there to continue the ongoing story.
...and just like that, they are redeemed. This final song on the 1st CD is like a wake-up punch to the gut! Falsettos on this one are definitely epic!!! What I said before about "War" being my favorite track so far may be revoked. This song is a solid contender as my favorite. What a way to mark the (unofficial) halfway point of the album!
Where are we at so far in the story? In Act #1, Nostradamus was born, prophesied a whole lot of bad stuff and then was persecuted and now exiled for it. In the lead-in track on the 2nd disc, you can feel the sorrow and loneliness Nostradamus must have felt.
I was afraid this was going to be another slow song much like "Lost Love", but this one, while it starts out quiet, comes through with a very anthemic and catchy chorus. I could see this used as a future single (much like "Worth Fighting For" was off of 'Angel...').
Shadows In The Future/Visions -
Speaking of radio singles, here is the main focus track off of this entire concept album! I love this song... I'm not going to downplay my affinity for this track. This is a definite highlight not only for this concept album, but for the very successful career of Judas Priest.
Hope/New Beginnings -
It's hard to follow such a track like that... this next intro/song combo is kind of forgettable. If I were to cut out some of the filler (dare I use such a term to explain Priest's music!), this song would be the first on the chopping block. Sorry, Rob!
Calm Before The Storm/Nostradamus -
Let's wrap it all up with this very excellent title track! You exiled poor Nostradamus and he ended up being right. Don't you look like a fool now!!! Seriously though, this song has all the makings of a classic as well even though it gets a bit repetative.
Future Of Mankind -
Much like the prophecies of Nostradamus, the CD doesn't end there! There's a plethora of prophecies that haven't come to be as of yet. This 8 minute closer reminds us of that... it's like his last "Told ya so!" before he departs.
Overall, this album is definitely Priest at their finest. It brings back some of the classic sound as well as incorporates a newer feel. As mentioned a few times, I couldn't help but to want too skip through some of the intros and even a few of the slower, dragging tracks. On the other hand, when the tracks get stronger, they are enough to hook you in and make you want to listen on. If this rock opera were performed in its entirety live, I'm sure the production would be massive! As I await that moment, I'm fine with this album and it was definitely worth the wait! While it sadly won't be my "Album Of The Year", it's strong enough to stand tall with whatever I choose.