After the sour reaction to the previous album, ‘Jugulator’, Priest tried to determine what went wrong. It was a myriad of things, but most importantly was due to the departure of the much loved Rob Halford and then completely changing your sound and abandoning everything that Judas Priest was known for in its sound. It is pretty simple actually. They tried to rectify one of those things as Rob was still not in the band. The lead singer for his second album with the band was Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens. The end result was the album ‘Demolition’ which was released on July 16, 2001 and did even worse then the previous album. It only charted at #165 on the US Billboard charts.
However, the album is way better than the reception it received. The band still consisted of K.K. Downing, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill and Scott Travis along with Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens and this time around they went back to a more Priest sound which was a little less heavy and a lot more melodic. They did modernize the sound by adding some nu-metal / industrial elements while still maintaining a lot of what Priest fans loved. This was a much more accessible album and one I find to be way better than the previous one. Dare I say, I really like this album, but it still doesn’t completely feel like a Priest album. It is a step in the right direction.
The opening track “Machine Man” sadly doesn’t really stray too far from the previous album. It is pretty brutal and heavy. It is one of the songs on the album that actually garnered Priest with their first Parental Advisory Sticker on an album due to the language. The guitar playing on this is pretty lethal and the combo of Tipton and Downing again shows how great this band is with those two. And not to be outdone, Travis’ drumming is totally maddening and still can’t figure out how he can drum that fast…it is crazy nuts. But I don’t completely hate it despite it’s resemblance to the prior album. Tim’s singing is better and more melodic at times and at least it had a decent chorus.
The next track, “One on One”, is where the album starts to real me in. The guitar riff on this one is totally killer and close to old Priest even if it sounds a lot more industrial. It has a great groove and you can’t help but get sucked in to it. Ripper sings it in a lower register, but it fits great the metallic feel of the guitars. And don’t get me started about the solo as I can see we are going to get treated to some great guitar work which I feel was missing on the last album. I could take a whole album of this style easily.
“Hell is Home” is up next and current Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner loves this song and I can see why. There is a creepiness to it and doom like feel which takes me back to bands like Sabbath. The song is about being an outcast and what person hasn’t felt like that at one time or another. When the song kicks in it is pure metal with a Ripper scream and some nasty guitar riffs. It isn’t full on power as the tempo is a little slower but it all works and works well as it chugs along and stays interesting throughout as you don’t know what guitar fills are going to be thrown in next.
Then we get “Jekyll and Hyde” which is by far the shortest song on the album at under 4 minutes. It brings the fire back and the tempo. Some speedy drum fills by Scott and more guitars. This one, however, is not a favorite as I am not sure I like Ripper’s vocal approach as it is more grit and growling than actually singing. The chorus is not very catchy and heck not sure there really is a chorus.
Then we get to a ballad…yep…a ballad and let me tell you, it is great. The Mad Metal Man, Harrison, really likes this and I can see why. “Close to You” has an almost atmospheric feel to it with the help of the added keyboards. There is a whole Ozzy vibe to this one and Ripper really digs deep with the emotive vocals. It is a slower tempo and that guitar work really adds the power in to power ballad. Priest doesn’t do ballads often, but they prove they can do them and do them well.
“Devil Digger” opens with more killer riffs and some cool effects added to them. Vocally, however, the song fell short. Ripper was actually a little boring and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way before. Maybe it is the lyrics and not him. I didn’t connect to this one at all, but the guitars were great as usual.
“Bloodsuckers” is a more classic Priest sounding song. It builds slowly and then some cool riffs come screaming in and the song kicks in to gear. Ripper’s vocal range goes from low to really high and some killer screams. This is more of what we want to hear from the band. It is pure adrenaline fueled power yet stays melodic and accessible. What I like is that is Ripper doing Priest and not imitating Halford even though he is doing the famous screams. Ripper doesn’t sound like Halford so it works.
Then we get to the song “In Between”, it starts off slower in tempo and really dark. It is completely different vibe from the previous song. No real memorable chorus and not much of chorus period. The vocal stylings are all over the place and the song doesn’t seem to have any real direction. I can do without it.
“Feed on Me” opens with some classic Priest guitar and then Travis brings in the drums. Another classic sounding song in almost a Dio vibe. The chorus sounds tough and there is an anger to the song that melds well with the aggressiveness of the music. A great deep cut that grabs hold and won’t let go.
A real gem for me is “Subterfuge” as this was totally unexpected. A great rhythm section on the song that shouldn’t be overlooked, but as usual for me is the guitar sound that is the force behind the song. The guitars have a similar vibe to “One on One” and as I said with that song, give me a whole album of it. I like the industrial feel and even a a little Rob Zombie vibe going.
Then we get another ballad and I am good with that. The song is “Lost and Found” and has some great acoustic guitar work from the boys. And I think this one is right up there with “Close to You” as it another great power ballad. Who knew in 2001, Priest would be doing ballads. I think I am liking this new Priest.
“Cyberface” is another industrial type song and is the only writing credit we get from Scott Travis along with Tipton. I feel that this might be more Korn like but I don’t listen to them I imagine this is what they might sound like. It is darker and I don’t really connect to it but at least they are pushing themselves forward in their sound.
The final track is “Metal Messiah” is another more modern rock track. There are parts I like about it and one of those is how Ripper sings against himself in like he is battling himself. The music is great and another one I’m glad to see them venture in to a more modern sound and not completely rest on their sound. Some change is good, just not all at once.
- Machine Man – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- One On One – Keeper
- Hell Is Home – Keeper
- Jekyll And Hyde – Delete
- Close to You – Keeper
- Devil Digger – Delete
- Bloodsuckers – Keeper
- In Between – Delete
- Feed on Me – Keeper
- Subterfuge – Keeper
- Lost and Found – Keeper
- Cyberface – Delete
- Metal Messiah – Keeper
The Track Score is 8.5 out of 13 or 65% and I would say that is about right. My Overall Score would be around that at maybe a 3.75 out of 5.0 Stars as I really enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I was going to after the last album. I thought Priest pulled back from straight up Thrash and went back to a more Priest like sound. The guitars were great, Travis’ drumming was killer as awesome, Ian’s bass work kept the band going and I found Ripper a lot more accessible and he did some great work on here. The band found their groove I feel with this one that mixed the really heavy with the more melodic. The best of both worlds kind of thing. However, due to the response, the band ended up going back to Rob Halford after this album and I am not disappointed with that decision.
UP NEXT: ‘REDEEMER OF SOULS’ (2014) – BONUS EDITION
THE COMPLETE ALBUMS COLLECTION SERIES:
- Rocka Rolla (1974)
- Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)
- Sin After Sin (1977)
- Stained Class (1978)
- Killing Machine / Hell Bent For Leather (1978)
- Unleashed in the East (1979)
- British Steel (1980)
- Point of Entry (1981)
- Screaming for Vengeance (1982)
- Defenders of the Faith (1984)
- Turbo (1986)
- Priest…Live! (1987)
- Ram it Down (1988)
- Painkiller (1990)
- Angel of Retribution (2005)
- Nostradamus (2008)
- A Touch of Evil: Live (2009)
- Jugulator (1997) – Bonus Edition
- Demolition (2001) – Bonus Edition