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It's obvious after listening to "Heart of a Killer" why Tim Owens was chosen to replace Rob Halford in Judas Priest. This is far better than the albums Tim did with Judas Priest and is the the best album Owens has recorded to date.
"Heart of a Killer" is an album that will recall bands like King Diamond, Queensryche, and Judas Priest. The first six songs outline a story about Judge Cohagen who receives a heart transplant from a man he had condemned to death. This heart transplant has unexpected supernatural consequences for the Judge.
The guitar playing is very competent, especially with regards to the soloing. The drumming is also good, but somewhat standard for this type of music. The music is well-developed but not particularly progressive. The emphasis is more on creating headbanging dark power metal rather than showcasing the band's technique. The most outstanding aspect of this album undoubtedly are the screaming vocals of Tim Owens. He can scream to the rafters and also put a lot of nice grit on his voice in the midrange, as evidenced at the beginning of the track "Horror Glances". His singing features a lot of octave jumps, probably the most notable example of which would be the song "Nightshade" which contains some insane vocals that I think few heavy metal singers could replicate.
I subtracted a few points over a few minor issues. First of all, let me be clear that I don't believe any album is perfect. I believe there is always room for improvement for musicians to strive for. My rating reflects that belief. I think the instrumental "Winters Bane" is superflous and would've worked much better by adding a vocal line to it. As an instrumental, it isn't distinctive enough to work on its own. I also think some of the guitar riffs would've benefitted from a bit more flair in the riff work. I think the drum parts could've been made a bit more interesting in some spots as well. Keep in mind though, that I consider these critcisms to be very minor considering the number of things "Heart of a Killer" has done well and I consider this album to be a gem of underground metal.
This CD was reissued by Century Media with a bonus disc of demo and live tracks. It shouldn't be too hard to find and is well worth the money! This album is a great purchase for people who really love the darker and heavier style of power metal.