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And now for something completely unexpected. - 80%

Nightcrawler, August 29th, 2004

Okay, so no one likes this one, I'm a Priest fanboy for giving it a score over 40, blah blah, this album is fucking good. After "British Steel", Judas Priest were under hard pressure to create a follow-up, but instead of going in the same direction as their last two albums, they completely wander off the beaten track (recognize that, and you get a cookie) and instead do what most would call a pop-metal album, which is not entirely unjustified.
The melodies and songwriting in general is quite upbeat and, so to speak, poppy. "You Say Yes" begins with a rather merry intro riff, and "Turning Circles" is probably the lightest non-ballad song they ever did, and "Troubleshooter" is the nicest sex song they ever did. But god damn it, I don't care, cause the songs are for the most part really fun and catchy.

And this is what Judas Priest do. They don't always move on the track that is certain to give them success - sure, "Turbo" experimented with glam metal when the genre was at it's peak, but at that point they were already big enough, they've no use to sell out. They're keeping an ear open for what's going on and stay open minded, but they never stray from their own path. That's what makes this band so special. The first true Heavy Metal band still remains the greatest, and on this, their sixth studio album, they keep the Priest legacy true by trying something different instead of what people expect, and it turns out alright, although admittedly one of their weakest releases to date.

There are some total fucking winners here, and I'll be dealing with those first. First off, the opening track and definite highlight on here, "Heading Out To The Highway", is just amazing. The lyrics that just scream of independence and the right to do what you want, coming from the Priest's own repeated hellraising nights of booze and acid trips, and the song reflects that perfectly with powerful riffs smacking you upside the head in the "Grinder"-vein and a powerful upbeat mood, complete with a mighty singalong chorus and one of those divine leads that Glenn and KK do so amazingly good! Yes, another magical Priest moment here.
Shortly after, we also have "Hot Rockin", an energetic, rocking tune which makes you wanna just go to a kick, headbang and scream your heart out. Viciously underrated it is, too, and I can't figure out why, it's vintage Priest.
These are the definite highlights, and the fastest song on here.

Some other noteworthy songs are the moody "Desert Plains", the LSD-laced "Solar Angels" and the powerful "On The Run" (Listen to that vocal delivery! I've said it before and I'll say it again, Paul Baloff is the Satan of Metal, and Rob Halford is the Metal God), three very memorable midtempo numbers. The previously mentioned and incredibly upbeat and nice "You Say Yes", the gay-reference filled "All The Way" and the cliché sex song "Troubleshooter" are just huge barrels of fun that I personally have a hard time not thoroughly enjoying.

"Turning Circles" and "Don't Go" are probably the weakest songs on here. "Turning Circles" has a pretty mediocre melodic riff that can get annoying after a while, and "Don't Go" has the same problem with the highlighted bass line, and overall these songs definitely are among the weaker material in Judas Priest's catalogue.
Nonetheless, I may be the only one to say so but this is a damn good album, it it's my personal opinion that you can never go wrong with Judas Priest. Stay metal, keep the faith and be awesome.