After 38 years, 16 studio albums, a breakup in 1991, Tim “Ripper” Owens, a reunion in 2003, Judas Priest has decided that now is a good time for a concept album.
Released on June 17th (in the United States), Nostradamus (Sony) is a product of Judas Priest’s exploration of a new musical frontier that falls short of what has long been expected of the “Metal Gods.” The two-disc set looks to be a disappointing follow up to the solid Angel of Retribution (2005), the bands album marking a triumphant return of Rob Halford to the Judas Priest line-up after his departure in 1991.
This concept album’s main focus is Michel de Nostredeme, a prophet known to contemporaries as Nostradamus. In his literary works, Nostradamus foretold what has been interpreted as the rise to power of Napoleon and Adolf Hitler, the French Revolution and the London Fire of 1666, along with many others prophesies.
Nostradamus is not the same album with the heavy and up-tempo style that has long been JP’s aggressive music style. Plain and simple, it lacks hit material. Tracks such as “Revelations,” “Pestilence and Plague,” “Persecution” and “Vision,” all standout on the album, but there is not enough for a major hit to come out of this one.
The band is able to incorporate the smooth song transitions that make for a harmonious track list, but both Glen Tipton’s and KK Downing’s skill and talent feel considerably underused. Die-hard Judas Priest fans are likely to be disappointed with greatly reserved tempos as they have come to expect from Tipton and Downing. The operatic orchestration of the album holds back Priest’s aggressive style. This album will leave anyone who is familiar with their catalog of the other 15 studio albums (13 if you don’t count Jugulator (1997) and Demolition (2001) of the Tip “Ripper” Owens era) wanting more.
The album failing to live up to its expectations should be of no surprise for Judas Priest fans. Released not long after the multi-platinum Screaming for Vengeance (1982), 1986’s Turbo was perceived by many a low point of Judas Priest’s music in the 80s, however, now it’s a much more appreciated album than it was upon its initial release. Perhaps, the same fate is in store for Nostradamus and Judas Priest’s foray into previously uncharted territory will be commended in the future, but this is more of an optimistic prognosis, rather than a prophesy.