(All Album Reviews by Wilton Said...)
Just got this yesterday and have had a first listen to most of it. First impression is that it has elements of songs off of Ram it Down such as “Blood Red Sky” and “Monsters of Rock”, Painkiller release with songs like “Leather Rebel”, and elements of songs off of Angel of Retribution.
While I think it's O.K., it doesn't grab me as being GREAT! Perhaps due to the similarity to songs and albums as mentioned above. What's new is that there's a lot of layering of guitars, added keys and orchestral textures. While I think this type of thing works with some bands such as Dream Theater, I don't think it works with this album as I think it takes much of the edge and definition away from the guitar sounds. With all the textures, there also doesn't appear to be room for the drums, which sound a little buried to my ears. The result is a soundscape that lacks any percussive rhythm.
With regards to the individual playing, both KK and Glen pull off their tried and true great rhythm and lead playing. Perhaps the most surprising thing is the amount of clean and acoustic guitar, which proliferates the album, in many cases as an interlude between songs.
Of course, one needs to mention the vocals of Halford. Lets just say that while he sings well, his age is showing. Most notable is his almost constant use of his lower range. That's right, no more high-pitched ball breaking notes which we've all come to love on songs such as “Exciter”.
Over all, not a bad release and quite ambitious for Judas Priest.