Firepower (Judas Priest album)

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Firepower
A robot firing beams and fire powered from hands in war
Cover art by Claudio Bergamin
Studio album by Judas Priest
Released 9 March 2018
Recorded March–June 2017
Studio Backstage Recording Studios, Derbyshire, UK (mixing and mastering)
Worcestershire, UK
Genre Heavy metal
Length 58:10
Label Epic
Producer Tom Allom and Andy Sneap
Judas Priest chronology
Redeemer of Souls
(2014)
Firepower
(2018)
Singles from Firepower
  1. "Lightning Strike"
    Released: 5 January 2018[1]
  2. "Firepower"
    Released: 14 February 2018[2]

Firepower is the eighteenth studio album by British heavy metal band Judas Priest. It is the first studio album since 1988's Ram It Down to be produced by Tom Allom, and the first one with Andy Sneap as co-producer.[3] The album sold around 49,000 copies in the United States within its first week of release, debuting at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart, making it the band's highest-charting album in the US.[4] Music videos were made for "Lightning Strike"[5], "Spectre"[6] and "No Surrender".[7]

Background[edit]

In an interview with Reverb.com in November 2015, Richie Faulkner said that Judas Priest would start work on a new album in 2016.[8] In April 2016, Loudwire posted a photo showing Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton and Faulkner himself in the studio,[9] with Halford stating in a radio interview that the album would be ready by early 2017.[10] In an interview Halford expressed dissatisfaction on making a Redeemer of Souls part two: "I think it's very important that we make another stand alone record again, a heavy metal record that's going to have its own legs and just be as different as all of them have been so far."[11] He describes the album as "some of our best work — without a doubt",[12] praising Faulkner for his contributions.[13]

Drummer Scott Travis says that it was "a little bit of both" of a conscious effort to revisit some of the band's musical past organically and naturally, expressing uncertainty in terms of the writings of the guitar riffs. He cites the songs "Rising from Ruins", "Lone Wolf", "Evil Never Dies" and "Never the Heroes" as his favourite songs. He then went on to say that the production is an improvement over Redeemer of Souls.[14]

Both Faulkner and Travis agree that Firepower is a heavier album than Redeemer of Souls, with Faulkner saying that the title track "might be the fastest Priest song. Especially in terms of the drum approach. A friend of mine, he said it sounds like 'Painkiller', but faster. So I can't think of another song that's quicker than 'Painkiller'. So if you define heavy in terms of speed, it's a pretty heavy track, it's pretty full-on."[15]

Halford describes the album's title as "the fire and the power of heavy metal music", later bringing up the band's other titles such as Screaming for Vengeance, Defenders of the Faith, British Steel and Sad Wings of Destiny, "They all sound great, don't they? They got to have some strength and conviction in the statement that Firepower certainly does."[16]

Recording and writing[edit]

Firepower was recorded from March to June 2017 at Backstage Recording Studios in Derbyshire.[17][18]

The songwriting process was "free and really relaxed", as explained by Faulkner.[19]

Faulkner says that the writing and recording ideas from Redeemer of Souls were the same, but was slightly different when it came to his guitar performance. He also said that it wasn't a conscious thing on his part to revisit the band's past albums for inspiration.[20]

Faulkner explained that some of the melodies and the ideas for Firepower were already written a long time ago. He says that the songs "Rising From Ruins", "Evil Never Dies" and "Sea of Red" are his favourites. When asked why Allom and Sneap were chosen to produce the album, he said, "We were kicking around producer’s names at the beginning of the process and that was one of the things that we wanted to do differently compared to Redeemer of Souls. One of the things that we could refine was the production and when we were talking about producers different names came up like Tom Allom, as he had already worked with the band on some of the classic albums, and Andy Sneap being a more modern metal producer of which we really liked the sound. So when we were discussing these two names, someone came up with the idea to combine forces and let them both do the production job. It was one of those lightbulb-moments, because it was never been done before with Priest but it just worked out great. It could have gone horribly wrong with clashing egos and things like that, but it was a great marriage of a classic producer and a more modern producer. They were really instrumental in getting the sound and the energy right for Firepower and I think that they did a fantastic job."[21]

Shortly after the announcement that Glenn Tipton was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease on 12 February 2018,[22] former guitarist K.K. Downing issued a statement saying that he was "shocked and stunned" that he wasn't asked to rejoin the band to replace Tipton. He then insinuated that Sneap's contributions were more than being just a producer, given the idea that he covered Tipton's guitar parts and not Tipton himself.[23] Halford and Faulkner responded negatively.[24][25] Downing later clarified that he only meant to say that Sneap not only produced, but likely "contributed song ideas, riffs and licks, lyric ideas etc."[26]

Halford says that technology did not change the writing process. He brought up the song "Delivering the Goods", "I feel that's what we really did with the music for Firepower this time."[27] He would later say that the band did not listen to their classic albums for inspiration during production, "but we certainly thought about what was at the core of all those records, at the metal heart of Priest. That's what gave us the direction for Firepower."[28]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic77/100[29]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[30]
Blabbermouth.net9/10[31]
Classic Rock4/5 stars[32]
Exclaim!5/10[33]
The Guardian4/5 stars[34]
Metal Hammer9/10[35]
Metal Storm8.3/10[36]

Firepower received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has an average score of 77 based on 11 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[29]

In December 2017, Firepower was listed by Ultimate Guitar as one of the "Top 25 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018", alongside expected albums by bands like A Perfect Circle, Megadeth, Testament, Alice in Chains, Guns N' Roses, Muse and The Offspring.[37]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Glenn Tipton, Rob Halford & Richie Faulkner.

No.TitleLength
1."Firepower"3:27
2."Lightning Strike"3:29
3."Evil Never Dies"4:23
4."Never the Heroes"4:23
5."Necromancer"3:33
6."Children of the Sun"4:00
7."Guardians" (Instrumental)1:06
8."Rising from Ruins"5:23
9."Flame Thrower"4:34
10."Spectre"4:24
11."Traitors Gate"5:43
12."No Surrender"2:54
13."Lone Wolf"5:09
14."Sea of Red"5:51
Total length:58:10
A tour edition boxed set contains a 7" vinyl; Limited only in Germany, Austria and Switzerland
Side A
No.TitleLength
1."Lightning Strike"3:29
Side B
No.TitleLength
2."Living After Midnight" (Live; Recorded on 1 August 2015 at Wacken)5:45

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Firepower.[38]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2018) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[39] 12
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[40] 2
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[41] 5
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[42] 14
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[43] 3
Croatian International Albums (HDU)[44] 3
Czech Albums (ČNS IFPI)[45] 1
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[46] 19
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[47] 16
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[48] 2
French Albums (SNEP)[49] 30
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[50] 2
Greek Albums (IFPI)[51] 4
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)[52] 2
Irish Albums (IRMA)[53] 52
Italian Albums (FIMI)[54] 20
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[55] 36
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[56] 5
Polish Albums (ZPAV)[57] 5
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[58] 3
Scottish Albums (OCC)[59] 4
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[60] 6
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[61] 1
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[62] 3
UK Albums (OCC)[63] 5
US Billboard 200[64] 5
US Top Hard Rock Albums (Billboard)[65] 1
US Top Rock Albums (Billboard)[66] 2

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Watch Judas Priest's New Video for 'Lightning Strike'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  2. ^ "JUDAS PRIEST - Exclusive "Firepower" 7" Bundled With March Issue Of Germany's Metal Hammer; Includes "Breaking The Law" Live At Wacken Open Air 2015". Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  3. ^ "JUDAS PRIEST To Release 'Firepower' Album; North American Tour Announced". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  4. ^ Caulfield, Keith. "Judas Priest Earns Highest Charting Album Ever on Billboard 200 With 'Firepower'". Billboard. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Watch Video For New JUDAS PRIEST Song 'Lightning Strike'". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  6. ^ Divita, Joe. "Judas Priest Unleash Video for Vampiric New Song 'Spectre'". Loudwire. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  7. ^ "JUDAS PRIEST: 'No Surrender' Video Released". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
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