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Before I continue, I just need to inform you of the real track list.
1. Dawn of Creation / Prophecy
2. Awakening / Revelations
3. Sands of Time / Pestilence and Plague
8. Calm Before the Storm / Nostradamus
9. Future of Mankind
The track list shown above is Nostradamus. I don't know what was printed on the CD, but please ignore it. Now that I've wheedled out the shit, I may go on.
Nostradamus is a very ambitious project. Priest, a relatively simply, dare I say, primitive heavy metal band, is attempting to create a flamboyant and extravagant album filled with synthesizers, orchestras, and classical influences. What the hell? I personally loved the idea, but many questioned it. Why? I couldn't quite comprehend it. Well, after listening to Nostradamus many (and I mean many) times, I can finally understand why people had concerns, but why they should now feel free to forget them.
The album, as printed, is an hour and forty minutes long. The real album is 70 minutes long, but either way you look at it, the damn thing is long . . . which kicks off the first part of our discussion: where the album fails in most peoples' eyes.
First and foremost: variation. At times, the album is just too slow, and for an album as long as this, that is a serious problem. This is no Painkiller. The band made the terrible decision of releasing the fastest track from the album as a first glimpse which got people excited for another speed metal album, of which this is not. The song "Nostradamus" is in no way representative of the album as whole. Personally, I was hoping for a nice mix of fast and slow, and that's what I got, though there were times when I sat there waiting for a song to end. The mid-paced gallop can become very tiresome, and even worse, the slow-paced crawl during the second disc can become downright brutal. I'm looking at you, New Beginnings. There's not enough change to keep someone interested for so long without it becoming a grueling challenge.
Number two: the guitars are too soft. This album is from the same people that brought us Beyond the Realms of Death, Victim of Changes, The Hellion, Savage, A Touch of Evil, Hell Bent For Leather . . . all songs that rely heavily on the guitar. Yet, for some reason or another, they decided to make the guitars almost inaudible at points. And the guitarists are the ones who produced the damn thing! You'd think that they would want to be on top, which I personally would have much preferred, but unfortunately, they relegated themselves to the bottom. They're still there, and their solos still rock, but even with their presence, there lingers the feeling that Glenn and K.K. were not utilized to their full potentials. Even with this issue, though, they are still incredible. Listen to Prophecy, Nostradamus, or Future of Mankind and try to convince me that they aren’t. It’s just a shame that the volume is so low.
Now that I've covered the basic faults, it's only fair that I speak of where this album succeeds, and let me tell you, this album succeeds a lot. The two faults mentioned before, in honesty, really don't detract from the experience as much as other people make it seem. The addition of synthesizers was a brilliant decision, enabling them to create a unique atmosphere unlike anything they’ve done before. It really makes you feel as if you're witnessing the story right as it unfolds. It's incredible. The intros and interludes (of the good tracks) link the songs perfectly and allow the story to feel like one entity instead of a bunch of separate stories thrown together. The first couple of times you HAVE to listen to the album in order, otherwise the magic just won't be the same. Now with my track list I did kill off some of his visions, his wife and children’s death, and his second marriage, but they only serve to drag the story on. Do we really need four separate songs for the Four Horsemen? How about another song dealing with his visions? No. Like I said, what you see above is the real track list. It works much better this way and truly invokes the Priest magic. Oh, and speaking of magic . . .
Rob Halford. Throughout the entire album the man is simply phenomenal. I don’t think I have ever heard him sound better. This is no hyperbole, either, Halford sounds fucking astonishing. From his sinister, ominous tone in Death to his shrieks and screams in Persecution, he sounds completely unstoppable. Even in the songs that suck, Halford sounds unbelievable. He is a force to be reckoned with, and this album only serves to confirm his status as one of the greatest metal singers out there. This could quite possibly be the greatest performance in the history of his career. Yes, it’s that good.
In closing, Nostradamus is a damn fine album and one that you should not miss out on. The pros FAR outweigh the cons. Have a listen for yourself and you, too, will understand.
Now, I must address a possible discrepancy with the score. I would easily rate the track list that I have given you a 90+. However, I cannot justify giving Nostradamus the same score when I had to remove half an hour of the music in order to truly enjoy it. As such, I deemed it necessary to lower the score a tad.
-Synthesizers and orchestras add new dimensions to Judas Priest
-Rob Halford is incredible
-An hour of ten minutes of truly remarkable music
-The solos rock
-The lyrics are actually good
-Guitars should be louder
-Half an hour of the album sucks