Judas Priest - _Nostradamus_
(Sony BMG, 2008)
by: Adam Lineker (
They say that it has been a long time coming. They say that fans of "The Proiyst" have been holding their breath for Halford & company to put out an album that offers more than a mere collection of anthems. Making their inevitable reunion comeback in 2005 with _Angel of Retribution_, Judas Priest had delivered just that sort of album, a mixed bag of career spanning, self-referential pieces that entertained but left one feeling unsatisfied. Yet, if the absurd and epic paean to Nessie which closed that opus was a harbinger of what was to come, it was as a cartoon short before the main feature presentation.Spanning two discs, _Nostradamus_ is a massive record, with most of its songs finishing up around the six minute mark, and short, orchestra-led pieces of reflective musing separating the courses from themselves. As such, with the exception of the disc changeover, _Nostradamus_ plays through without a pause for silence. The guitars are deep and rich, whilst still distinctively retaining the long established Tipton / Downing sounds. Halford is master of ceremonies, and while he remains mostly confined to an urgent and dramatic middle register, his famed falsetto makes the occasional appearance. The rhythm section is oddly restrained, and though hearing little of Ian Hill was to be expected, the lack of flamboyance from Scott Travis is disappointing, as his powerful drumming has become a linchpin of the modern Priest sound.However, despite all the vastness of scope and richness of tone, this piece of Priest is an ill conceived, plodding, lead-footed donkey of a double album. It all starts promisingly enough, with spooky intro giving way to a chugging anthem; one that features Halford informing the listener that he is Nostradamus. Yet the pace never really picks up at all, remaining mostly middling and unexciting throughout. Rammed with ballads and orchestral interludes, _Nostradamus_ drags by at a funereal crawl. On top of this, the story of Nostradamus is incoherently told through jarringly whimsical lyrics, boasting an approach that subscribes heavily to the "Fuck it, as long as it rhymes" school of thought. There is also so much orchestral blaring that the band is back-seated and the vibe is not dissimilar to Jeff Wayne's _War of the Worlds_ musical; an intriguing but ham-fisted experience.It is truly bizarre that on a record focusing on themes of foresight and vision that Judas Priest could have come up so worryingly limited; these songs are simplistically dull at best, and no amount of grandeur can cover up the fact that this is a short sighted tribute to one of history's famous seers. Still, you can't criticize Priest for the attempt. They didn't have to do this record at all. They just wanted to do something different, and that a band of their age still burns with this much ambition is a wonder in itself. As long as they don't develop a desire to play the whole thing live any time soon, I'll still be down the front when the Metal Gods roll back into town.
(article published 10/8/2008)
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