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A new Halford album… what could we expect from the Metal God at this stage of his career? Would it be as heavy as his previous two solo efforts? Will it be as cheery as Winter Songs? Will he continue what he did on the latest Priest release? When “The Mower” was released I had almost lost hope for a decent album. It seemed obvious his voice was gone; the live performances were dreadful… how the hell could a next solo release from Rob Halford be any good?
Apparently, I was very mistaken about the Metal God. His voice is not gone; it’s just as good as it has been on a release like Painkiller. Only his high-pitched trademark screams are not as good as before, but hey the man gets older too and luckily there’s only one track with these screams and that would be “The Mower”, a track full of bland low e-picking and directionless screams. But apart from that, Rob Halford is absolutely not a has-been singer. He sounds so alive and fresh on here, at times you’d even forget he is close to 60 years old. At tracks like “Hell Razor” he even sings like he did in the 70s. Combine these fresh vocals with a very fresh sound of the instruments. Unlike on Crucible or Resurrection, the main focus is not a heavy guitar-sound. Made of Metal sounds very much like 80s Priest classics like Screaming for Vengeance or Defenders of the Faith. Tracks like “Speed of Sound” or “We Own the Night” might as well have been Priest classics. I think a lot of people who hear this album will feel this should have been the previous Judas Priest effort, and not Nostradamus, even though I really liked that one. This is also the first album to feature tracks that have been written entirely by Rob Halford. Mostly he co-writes them with his band mates. Talk about his band-mates, they are in great shape too. The album is full of inspiring riffs and terrific solos, especially on “Fire and Ice”.
Unlike the previous solo efforts, this album does not begin with an in-the-face heavy killertrack, but with “Undisputed”, featuring lyrics about boxing, Halford presents us the intro to a more melodic release with still enough power to fill your veins with adrenaline. A track like “Fire and Ice” sounds like an Yngwie Malmsteen classic, probably due to the neoclassical riff combined with the epic vocal melodies at the chorus. The title track is quite a standard track with a four-chord chorus and monotonous verses, but later on we’ll be pleased with superb tracks like “Speed of Sound”, “Like There’s No Tomorrow” and “We Own the Night”. “Till The Day I Die” is a real stand-out track. It’s very bluesy and clearly shows Halford’s interest in the genre. With tracks like “Heartless” and “Hell Razor” the album collapses a little. These tracks suffer from less originality and have a ‘been-there-before’-feel to them. With “Thunder and Lightning” Halford gives us another epic with certainly one of the finest choruses on this release. “Twenty-Five Years” is the only ballad on the album. It lasts seven minutes and perhaps that is a little too long for this song, but then again, it’s a good track and a very personal song. With “Matador” we get another track about racing, but it has these very catchy melodies and even reminds me a bit of “Nostradamus” in the chorus. The final epic “I Know We Stand A Chance” could’ve been expanded upon, but it’s a good track and should’ve been the last track. “The Mower” closes the album, and surprisingly the song is a grower. It’s obviously the least interesting track of this release, but the quality of the album lifts this song up and makes me able to enjoy it even if only a little.
In short, Made of Metal is nothing like Resurrection or Crucible in terms of sound. It sounds a lot more like 80s Judas Priest with a dash of new Halford. Were you disappointed with Nostradamus? Do you want some more kickass old school metal? Then you’ve got to listen to this record, ‘cause it’s Made of Metal!
Strongest tracks: “Fire and Ice”, “Like There’s No Tomorrow”, “Till the Day I Die” and “Thunder and Lightning”.
Weakest tracks: “Heartless”, “Hell Razor” and “The Mower”.