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A wonderful friend of mine, gay, wants to know what the new Judas Priest album is all about (lyrically). I tell him that (lyrically) it’s about blood, glory, bloody glory, steel blades, fighting and dying and going to Valhalla where you reign in bloody glory with your steel blade for eternity. He asks is there anything about being an old queen, I tell him no but the new Morrissey is also one of the best albums of the year. That sets him off and we can’t talk about anything else seriously.

Elsewise, the record’s about crunch. Crunchage. Judas Priest gives us what we want in Judas Priest, and I can think of no higher compliment, especially since the lineup was recently shorn of one of its two long-serving lead guitarists and might have suffered a certain lack of hang-hairy bilateral symmetry in the region of the figurative groin. And the new guy came from Lauren Harris’s band, where swami says the metal world was not hanging on his every distortion.

Time was when my middle-school peers would beat me up for not liking stuff like this and they might still do, if they caught me listening to Morrissey, let alone early Marillion (for whom painter Mark Wilkinson, who provided Redeemer’s art, toiled as a youth). As a middle-aged obsession, though — hail, crunchage! And distortion. And Halford’s singing more pinched, but that just leaves him sounding more like Ozzy. And the last song on the bonus edition almost made me cry. Close. Enough.

Album: Redeemer of Souls
Artist: Judas Priest
Label: Epic/Columbia
Songs: (1) Dragonaut (2) Redeemer of Souls (3) Halls of Valhalla (4) Sword of Damocles (5) March of the Damned (6) Down In Flames (7) Hell & Back (8) Cold Blooded (9) Metalizer (10) Crossfire (11) Secrets of the Dead (12) Battle Cry (13) Beginning of the End
Deluxe Edition Bonus Disc: (1) Snakebite (2) Tears of Blood (3) Creatures (4) Bring It On (5) Never Forget

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