Judas Priest: Nostradamus
When you’re considered among the founding fathers of heavy metal, and gods in your own right, people might think you’ve done it all. Judas Priest — yes, those leather-and-chain-clad, biker boy music legends were in such a comfortable place with their ever more legendary discography. And then, there was the concept of a concept album.
Now, we all know, they could’ve just let K. K. do the awesome riffs and solos with the drums pounding in your head like the apocalypse come early. But this is the band that brought the world a little closer to musical hell, in a good way — this, my friends, is Judas Priest.
‘Nostradamus’, Priest’s 2008 double-disc release is a departure from standard procedure for the boys from Birmingham’s mills, the very same place that spawned Black Sabbath.
With the weight of their own reputation behind them, a Judas Priest album can hardly disappoint, although this one almost starts out on that dreaded path. At almost two hours long, this is an album that requires immense patience to listen to (and even more to review). Glenn Tipton believes that Nostradamus chose the band to make this concept album, which is a letdown. The album, at many points seems forced and phased out longer than it is supposed to be.
If asked to pick one song from the album to put on my heavy metal play list, it would be “Visions”. The second single from the album, “Visions” has some strong melodies and some tasty licks about it. Another great track which shows off Rob Halford’s considerable range even at his age is the title track, especially with the powerfully dark chorus. Individual songs and their brilliance more or less end at this.
But then every concept has its flaws, and the one that this one comes attached to is length and volume. The sheer number of tracks that you have to listen to, and not all of them are half bad, to actually get to something that is so essentially and awesomely Judas Priest in nature, like the song “Death”, is a terrible task. While you can’t help but appreciate the enthusiasm of the band to not rest on their considerable laurels and take a risk, there are points in the album where you wish it was only a single -disc release a la ‘Angel of Retribution’ — thus completing one of the most amazing metal comebacks ever.
The fact of the matter is, because it is a Judas Priest album, you might go in expecting ‘British Steel’ or ‘Screaming for Vengeance’, and end up disappointed. For example, on “The Four Horsemen”, an orchestra plays along with the band, something that a Judas Priest traditionalist might just consider insanity — only, it’s not of the kind he or she likes or expects. Anyone who listens to it with an open mind might just get it, either way. Like Halford screamed in the previous album, Judas is still rising.