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This album really disappointed me. Their last offering, Angel of Retribution was actually quite good but here they’re just pushing it. I appreciate the whole experimentation with a concept album but the music is still the same old tried and tested formula that was invented 20 years back with Ram It Down and worked amazingly well on Painkiller (Ahem, my favourite album of all time). It was surprising to see that they had another album in them with it in form Angel of Retribution but I guess that was it.
These 2 songs, released before the album, really got my hopes down. I mean, it was the exact same aggressive form of drumming put together with Halford’s aging voice and a couple of poor solos. The passion and emotion they put in Painkiller is completely absent here; making the whole thing sound bland and incomplete. They tried their best to replace the feel with epic-ness but they’ve failed miserably.
The title track of the album starts with some keyboards but then we hear Halford trying to some male opera vocals or whatever you call it. And gosh he sounds just terrible. But that’s not it; throughout the song he sounds tired, pallid and pushed. We can hear the keyboard overtones throughout the song too, which make it sound even more forced and unnecessary. The solo is just blind shredding which is very unlike Priest. I was expecting a good solo but my hopes were shattered in that department as well. The song, almost 7 minutes long, sort of overstays its welcome. All I can catch from the whole song is “Nostradamus! Nostradamus!”
The second song presented here is entitled “Visions” and is about five and a half minutes long. Now this just another average song no different from those mainstream hard rock bands out there, just that the riffs and drums are a little heavier. Keyboards are present here as well but luckily don’t disturb the composition. The tempo is painfully slow, the riff is generic and the solo consists of very obvious notes which take no genius to write. All I can say about this one is that it’s catchy, but then so was the other one and besides it really isn’t a big deal.
A lot of people say that Judas Priest material has been going downhill since 1980's magnum opus release British Steel. This point seemed to have been driven home with the last album, Nostradamus, an underrated concept album about the life and times of Michel De Nostredame, a philosopher and visionary.
A few months before its release, Priest gave us a couple of tracks from it in the form of the Nostradamus EP. Its two songs, Nostradamus and Visions, both come from the second disk of the double-album, and represent the dichotomy of the music in the new album. Nostradamus is a melody-driven metal anthem, and long by Priest standards (Almost seven minutes! How long was Breaking The Law, 2:35 or something?) in the vein of older material like Killing Machine, with an orchestra playing in the background. Visions is almost nothing but orchestration, an interesting counterpoint to the riff mastery of Nostradamus. Clearly, these songs point out how different the music in the new album is.
If you can find a cheap copy of this EP, it may someday be a collector's item, but it's redundant if you already have the Nostradamus album. If you're knew to the Nostradamus argument, this might be a good place to start. Solid, if short.