Judas Priest – “Firepower” & “Lightning Strike”
Recent Rock and Roll Hall of of Fame snub Judas Priest still has it. That Halford snarl and sharp inflection at the end of a line. His incredible range. The pure riffing power of Tipton and Faulkner’s duel guitars. The thundering drums of Travis. Both singles are a powerful showing from the nearly 50 year old group, especially “Lightning Strike.” With the classic Priest sound we’ve come to know and love, these two singles are a return to top form in comparison to 2014’s singles from Redeemer of Souls (“March of the Damned” and “Dragonaut”).
Firepower is out March 9th. Tipton’s recent sad news that he’s stepping back from the tour due to his health means we’ll see producer Andy Sneap tour in Tipton’s stead.
The Sword – “Deadly Nightshade” & “Twilight Sunrise”
The Austin, Texas based quartet continue their evolution towards the blues rock traditions of their Texan ancestors ZZ Top. “Deadly Nightshade” and “Twilight Sunrise” are good, but expected. It’s sometimes hard to tell with singles, but it sounds like this release might be a more consistent, less experimental album than 2015’s High Country. As a long-time fan, I left the High and Low Country releases feeling disappointed and underwhelmed. With each album they stray more from their Sabbath-style doom sound of their first two albums, but I’ll definitely check out Used Future releasing on March 23.
Primordial – “To Hell or the Hangman” and “Stolen Years”
“To Hell or the Hangman,” full of dramatic tension, tells the story of a father who has to hang his own son. “Stolen Years” is a strange sort of ballad. Primordial are no stranger to hauntingly slow songs. But this song has a different kind of dirgeful sound – the guitar springs a hopeful melody of a new morning and rebirth, while the lyrics remind us of the limitation of this strange cosmic gift of life and sentience. Both singles are incredible. Exile Among the Ruins is out March 30.