Sunday, December 21, 2008

Judas Priest - Nostradamus

(Columbia Records/Epic Records, 23 tracks, 102 minutes, 42 seconds, reviewed by Adam McAuley)

Nostradamus represents an interesting change in pace for this band who had been throwing out albums of pure metal delight for years and to almost no equal. Here we see them changing their direction towards a concept album stance and this bodes for pompous results. As such we can see that Nostradamus is a slightly more uneven album because of its ambitions, however, and manages to throw in a lot of filler in between tracks to make it so. And thus the album fails to live up to their better comeback Angel of Retribution although it isn’t really a complete downfall by any means.

So, to start off, the structure of the album is a huge changing point over past works in its double album nature and its presence of many shorter intermission kind of tracks. This displays a different direction they want to take attempting to build excitement over lengths of time rather than hitting you on the head with one classic track after another. Nostradamus’ nature makes for moments of boredom throughout the work as the filler tacks fail to raise a pulse. They serve as just a minute of stationary waiting for the next exciting track, which comes by at reasonable frequency.

The standout tracks aren’t frequent, but “Revelations” and “Visions” were amongst their names. They have a slight feel of older Priest overwhelming them which raises them above some of the greater filler type tracks on the album. A sort of virtuoso flavour overwhelms the songs as well, which is a promising characteristic.

In terms of musical performances, we can see a fairly solid outing by the band, although one yearns for the classic feel of albums like Sad Wings of Destiny and Screaming for Vengeance slightly more than the slightly modernized tone presented here. Halford’s voice is starting to show a slight down-point compared to his early youthful vigour, but this was also demonstrated on the Angel of Retribution album and solo works as well, though his voice is still solid.

The concept album stance of Nostradamus tends to want to make it seem majestic at times, but here we’re left with a product that seems slightly more bloated in the long run because of filler tracks. In the stages of the band’s progression, an album of this type of a nature would be a reasonable idea for a change although we can see that it isn’t necessarily an altogether positive one at this point.

On the whole, Nostradamus is a step down Angel of Retribution or such classics as Sad Wings of Destiny, Stained Class, Screaming for Vengeance and Painkiller. However, it is a reasonably solid concept album taken from a purely musical standpoint despite the filler. This work is thus slanted towards people welcoming a change in Priest’s habits although they may not be entirely wanted, show even expansions of the band that could be helpful.

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