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Judas Priest > Jugulator > Reviews
Judas Priest - Jugulator

Too Toothless and Clawless to Pierce the Jugular - 25%

TheHumanChair, June 22nd, 2022

After Halford decided to leave Judas Priest, the band had a half decade break before coming back with Tim Owens on vocals to release "Jugulator." Let me first say that Owens is a good vocalist, but he's out of his league trying to follow Rob Halford. Almost no one would be able to fill the shoes he left, but Owens doesn't really have the best 'feel' for Priest. At least Priest as we'd all know it. Owens is a good vocalist at his best, and a horrible vocalist at his worst. Unfortunately, there's more of his worst than his best. Both albums with Owens on vocals try hard to fit in, and his voice does the same. It's hard to say how much of that influence is Owens himself, and how much of it was the band directing him on where they wanted to be.

The bottom line is that "Jugulator" is a terrible album. To me, the Tim Owens albums are the exact opposite side of the same coin as "Point of Entry" and "Turbo." Where the later two tried incredibly hard to be poppy and cheesy to get mass appeal, all "Jugulator" and its successor do instead is try and hit this pompous and cringe worthy "tough guy" attitude to try and reach a broader appeal instead. Instead of satisfying their fans, Judas Priest tried to do this to try and be 'hip' with what they thought was cool at the time. They tried desperately to reach a 'new generation' of fans instead of pleasing the fans they'd already made for two decades before this. What they didn't get is that it wasn't cool then, and it hasn't become cool with age, either. "Juglator" is the musical personification of the dad that tries too hard to relate to and fit in with his kids. Instead of just doing what they do best with a new singer, they really shot themselves in the foot.

This time around, everything feels thin, too. KK and Tipton's guitars come off as lower and less focused than previous albums, and where, on "Painkiller" Scott Travis had this blasting heavy drum sound, this time it also feels paper thin and incredibly fake. His drums almost feel plastic sounding to me. While Owens has his own brand of impressive high notes, he also feels the need to throw in these distorted growls like a half-assed death metal singer in most songs. I just cannot express hard enough how cringe worthy this album is. There are few albums that make me want to curl into the fetal position out of second hand embarrassment more than "Jugulator" does.

"Burn in Hell." Really? If that doesn't tell you how much this album panders, I don't know what will. Sure. An extreme metal group that has instrumentals to fit that kind of mood might be able to make it work without making you cringe, but this lineup of Judas Priest? They had absolutely no chance at all. The riff and bass work on "Burn in Hell" is some of the albums best, but Ripper's pathetic tough guy melodies are horrid. It sounds like a kid who learned his first curse word just saying it all the time to try and sound cool. Just mention guns and shooting someone and you'll fit in with all the cool kids, right? The whiny chant of the chorus after the high note completely misses the mark and offers no atmosphere like it intended either. Absolutely dreadful. "Dead Meat" follows suit. With a boring dime-a-dozen riff, all Ripper does here is talk about cutting and stabbing instead of shooting to try and sink his point across here. Once again, the vocals are cringe inducing for the entire run time. Just change one tough guy topic and insert another and you have "Dead Meat." There's not one note or second of this song worth listened to.

If that wasn't bad ENOUGH, the band also has to throw in tracks where they have obnoxious introductions to try and sell this same tough guy mood. Let us next look at "Death Row." I might have never heard anything more cringe inducing in my entire life than the intro for "Death Row." It's truly that horrible. It's supposed to make you feel like an inmate in death row, but they're so bad at making the mood right that instead it feels like going through a haunted house some guy put on in his backyard. It's cheap and it's pale. The chorus is also pathetically vomit worthy. Once again, a band who knows how to use atmosphere and effects could have easily pulled this off. It's not that the band decided to be atmospheric that caused the problem. It's the fact that they tried it without the tools in their arsenal to make it feel believable and real. "Brain Dead" follows right behind. They had to start their song with a car skidding across the road and sirens. Why? Because running from the law is "cool," right? They did "Breaking the Law" and everyone loved it, so lets just double down on that and we'll sell millions with the kids, right? Again, it has no substance. No worthwhile riffs and nothing decent vocally either. Just more of Owen's usual stuff and his annoying growls.

The worst the album has to offer is "Blood Stained." And considering how bad the rest of the album is, being the worst is really something of an accomplishment. I genuinely struggle to listen to this song. It's the combination of everything that sucks about this lineup. The chorus is a repetitive onslaught of the same tough guy talk AND Tim Owens has to do his growl across every word too! "Blood Stained" is an utter assault on the ears from every direction. It's easily in contention for the worst Judas Priest song of all time. And last, because I'm sounding like a broken record, "Decapitated" keeps the trend going. It's probably the least offensive of everything I've talked about up to this point, but like "Blood Stained," we once again have the same story. Tim Owens ranting about some kind of tough guy violent act while he throws in sickening growls behind it to try and sell the mood. Being repetitive is bad enough, but they felt the need to be repetitive with some of their worst songs, too. Oh, they needed a comedy spoken word part mid way into the song, too. might be asking there ANYTHING decent off "Jugulator." No. The short answer is no. But if you're really going to twist my arm, I can maybe give the title track a pass. If every song on the record was like the title track, it would have merely ended up as a mediocre album, instead of one of the worst of the worst. "Jugulator" at least attempts to be Judas Priest. It still falls victim to some of the same things I'd already mentioned, but I can easily chalk that up to a different style with a different singer. Even if it's not for me, there's an ATTEMPT on the title track. There's effort here. The riffs are solid; the chorus is a lot of fun; and there are transitions and movement to the song. It's mediocre, but it's a shining gem compared to the rest. The chorus of "Bullet Train" is a lot of fun too. The chorus is easily the best chorus on the entire album, for what that's worth. The rest of the song is pretty bad, but having a memorable chorus with some emotion is a positive. I wouldn't recommend "Bullet Train," but I definitely have to give it points for having a chorus that sticks with me some.

So yes. "Jugulator" is horrible. Quite possibly the worst Judas Priest gets. You might have also noticed I didn't talk all that much about the band itself during this review. Why? Because they're just there. Besides a few cool moments, it's just stock metal riffs crammed down your throat. They're almost a non-factor. The successor to this record often gets more hate, but I actually prefer it, if ever so slightly, to this one. But that's a story for another time. The bottom line is, this album isn't bad because it doesn't have Halford. As someone who likes quite a few bands more without their most 'famous' singer (see my Black Sabbath reviews), I'm very open to a new voice. It was just the stylistic changes that came with Owens, whether they were his influence or not, made this record dead on arrival. See what I did there? I can use tough guy words to try and make a point too, guys. The only difference is, when my tough guy words falls flat, I'm just a nobody on the Internet. Not Judas Priest.


thewarheadshaverustinpeace, June 3rd, 2022
Written based on this version: 1997, CD, Steamhammer

Judas Priest, what a band. My first time being exposed to them was with British Steel, then Painkiller, then Screaming for Vengeance, so on and so forth. I was told to avoid the Tim "Ripper" Owens era of Judas Priest, and after listening to Demolition, I pretty much agreed with people that his era was dated and pretty awful. But then I listened to Jugulator.

Essentially, so to speak, this album is Painkiller on steroids. It's an unrelenting force of nature that grips you tight from the start, rips your spine out, and leaves your remains to get consumed by the Jugulator by the end. There's so much to look at with this record, so lets look at it from the start to the end.

Jugulator kicks off with the title track, with a strange, mechanical sounding intro, with spoken word about how the Jugulator is going to get you, and then it heads straight into that thrashing riff. This album radiates the same type of energy Painkiller had and then some. Blood Stained follows this track, and that song is pure madness. It's heavy, has a catchy chorus, and fairly catchy riffs. Another noteworthy track is Death Row, a fast thrash song with balls. It has a slow intro, but when it finally starts, it has literally every ounce of awesomeness that the first three tracks held. Also, that chorus is catchy and fun. I have to comment on this real quick by the way: Burn in Hell has got to be one of Judas Priest's best tracks. I'm not kidding. I'm not joking. It's absolutely brilliant. That awesome, slow intro that sends chills down your spine puts you on the edge of your seat.

Not many people are fans of the track Brain Dead, and I really can't see why. Sure, Tim would've added a little bit more of an oomph on his voice during the verses, but his fantastic vocals on the catchy chorus save that. The speedy section in the middle is very reminiscent of Painkiller as well. Bullet Train is this album's main single (though, Burn in Hell was the best of the two singles), and it has a catchy chorus, fast riffs, and shows off Tim's vocals pretty well. Nothing super spectacular, but it is a good showcase of the album's tone and energy as a whole.

The one track on this record that I sincerely can't get is Decapitate. It's fine, but holy hell does it sound like a neutered version of Blood Stained and Dead Meat. Doesn't even have a catchy or memorable chorus to help save the track. Though, gotta say, that weird whip sound does catch your attention and saves you from boredom. The lyrics on this album are a little cheesy, but so was the entirety of Painkiller ("This is the metal meltdown, run for your lives"...does that not sound cheesy to you?).

Now, the greatest track on this album is Cathedral Spires, a 9 minute epic about the end of the world. This track is amazing. I'm not joking, I'm not fooling around, this song is perfect, and should be on every "top 10 best Judas Priest songs" list. It's superb in every way, and an amazing way to conclude the album, and a decade.

Jugulator is an overlooked, underrated masterpiece of metal. Tim does a damn good job at filling in Rob Halford's place, the musicianship is great, and the production is superb. I'd go as far as to say that this album alone is the best thrash record of the mid to late 90s. The only other options in that are some of Slayer's lazy output after Seasons in the Abyss, Megadeth's generic Metallica ripoff albums after Rust in Peace, among other bands. Though, 2nd place in that list would be Annihilator's Criteria for a Black Widow, but that's a talk for another day.

I give Jugulator a 99%, and 9 out of 10 stars.

Tracks to check out: "Burn in Hell", "Cathedral Spires", "Bullet Train", "Jugulator", and "Death Row".


Demon Fang, September 20th, 2021

Painkiller – the album so good, it nearly ended Judas Priest. Well, that, and the 90s happened. Either way, it’s a terrific album that they couldn’t possibly follow up without either disappointing the fans, changing their sound entirely (which still just about evokes the former but not as harshly), or performing some real voodoo black magic shit. Well, let’s put it this way. Is it Painkiller? Ooh… “yes” with an “if”; “no” with a “but”. Is it a good album? Ehh, almost. Basically, the 80s sounding speed metal stands tall as some bonafide fun, fun songs while the more blatantly 90s groove metal was an investment with no dividends and significantly declining returns.

But boy fuckin’ howdy, does this album start off with aplomb! “Jugulator” riding off that “Painkiller” energy as KK Downing and Tipton riff like their arms are sewing machines while Scott Travis lights up the night with some mad percussion. Ripper Owens makes a hell of an impression with his commanding range and all American charm. He hits them highs like no one’s business and those middish highs drive the song with rigorous force. Similarly, the riffs muscle through with either gale force speed metal riffing or a more chunky mid-paced affectation.

“Blood Stained” and “Burn in Hell” have a lot of force behind the riffs and the choruses – catchy in their approach – strike their melodious might into your mind. Even then, it is ultimately the speedier cuts that win out in the end. Just some deliciously dynamic, energetic cuts of Painkiller-esque speed metal with a ton of vigor. “Jugulator” builds up to its manic chorus with gusto while “Death Row” pounds the listener with some real machine gun riffing, and “Bullet Train”… well, riffs like one. There’s hardly any way to go wrong with the more bombastic speeding locomotive that was Painkiller, and Jugulator maintains that spirit quite well in those speedier hits (plus “Dead Meat”). Even then, one of the major highlights is actually a bit of a slower cut in “Cathedral Spires”, with a composition being bigger than a cathedral spire. Then again, it’s got that real sense of finality – the calm before the anthemic riffing, concluding with a reprise – and it’s got all the tenants of the other tracks discussed thus far amped up to eleven.

Sounds like a terrific comeback album, doesn’t it? But then what in the H-E Double Hockey Sticks is shit like “Decapitate”? You get this groove that drags its feet and does absolutely nothing to work. No push, no drive, no pulse – nothing! Travis Scott and Ripper Owens, the poor souls, are desperately trying to figure out how to put some energy into it. Goddamn, “Brain Dead” definitely lives up to its name, doing the same thing. “Abductors” – like, if you squint at it real hard – kinda picks up about halfway through with a little bit of kick after a meandering groove… before going back to exactly that meandering groove! Having the latter two one after the other definitely doesn’t do any favors to anybody. This weak ass, go-nowhere groove shit makes KK Downing’s upcoming solo album sound like fucking Sad Wings of Destiny! Korn and Pantera made this look easy.

Not too keen on a lot of the extended intros because they don’t really drum up an awful lot of atmosphere (and “Burn in Hell”s intro could definitely use a trim at any rate), and the solos are definitely the worst in Priest’s career. They tend to meander about, barely even existing outside of about three seconds of Painkiller-esque soloing in “Death Row” – even then, they are all ruined by having some real comically distorted production on them. Still, when Jugulator’s on, it’s on! Perhaps the gap between Painkiller and Jugulator worked out for the band as they manage to pen tip top joints like “Death Row”, “Bullet Train” and the monolithic “Cathedral Spires”. But then “Decapitate” pops on and, yeah, this definitely only comes as a recommended trek to the past with a hefty asterisk.

Dying_Hope's Moth Box (Part 1: Morbid Priest) - 90%

Dying_Hope, February 28th, 2020

There are two specific questions that keep me busy since I came across the name Judas Priest. The first question is why Judas Priest fans seriously expect a new genre-defining classic from a band that has been active since 1969 and has shaped a whole genre like no other band? And although this group released at least a handful of albums in their careers that are considered undisputed classics among fans and musicians around the world near every fan expect an new timeless classic. To speak for myself this won't happen, and I think that this fact is a normal conclusion for a band of that age.

The second question is, what the Hell is wrong with "Jugulator" and the entry of Tim Owens to replace Rob Halford who left the band years before? This guy is cool! Yes, it is hard to replace a legend like Rob Halford, also because he has a unique voice and is one of the best singers ever. But seriously, Tim is a great musician. Wicked voices claim that Tim Owens' compositions could be the main reason for the very dark orientation of the songs on this album. Bullshit! Anyone who is just a little bit concerned with the topic will find out that Tim Owens just joined the band after the whole album was written. So it was not his fault, get rid of it folks!

So is "Jugulator" a bad album just because it is not a new classic in the history of heavy metal, or just because Tim Owens has sang on it? The answer is a clear no! "Jugulator" is really good and I like the work of Tim Owens alot here. To speak for myself "Jugulator" is my second-favourite album with him behind the mic after "The Glorious Burden" by Iced Earth. The album itself is the darkest, most thrashy, and by far heaviest album this band had ever put out. The production is more raw than on previous releases and the mood becomes dark and darker with each passing song. Even the lyrics contain a more morbid content as in the past. This and the dark mood may be the reason why so many fans can't cope with this album.

For example the titletrack starts weird as Hell, with droning guitars and a haunting spoken word section before transforming in an thrashy headbanger. Tim sounds so evil the whole playtime that it is fun to listen. He never sounded so aggressive in his whole career again. And everyone who has a sense for good groove in riffs will love "Blood Stained". Killer riffs and basslines slaughter the ears, and Tim's vocals burns in the brain and did not leave that fast! The same can be said from "Dead Meat" with its grand chorus and crunchy guitar work. The most of the songs does not differ extremely from each other, the whole album feels like a natural stream as if it were written in one session. But this fact is the reason why I adore it so much, it feels like the band had fun to show their destructive site.

And then there is "Burn in Hell", a song that builds up slowly with its haunting atmosphere and Tim's chanting dark words. Some say that this song would work much better in the single version in which the complete intro is cut out. I say no! The album version has a much stronger build up and works far better! It is a headbanger to kneel down, and I recommend every metalhead to take off the tomatos from their ears and to enjoy this little piece of Hell. All in all I would consider "Bullet Train" as the most classic Judas Priest song on "Jugulator". Not too dark, more melodic and speedy. Great song and a earcatcher. But I doubt that this one song will comfort the ones who mourn the departure of Rob Halford.

At the end of the day I can just say: Please give this album a listen, folks. Just listen to the closing epic "Cathedral Spires" and try to explain me why this masterpiece is not worthy to call it a Judas Priest song. Just because Rob Halford did not stand behind the microphone, or because of the change in direction? "Jugulator" is not a typical Judas Priest album, but it is worth every minute of your time. I think Judas Priest created an album that is a class of its own, a more aggressive and morbid record. I hope it will get more attention because it is something of a forgotten Diamond. Thank you for your time, my friend.

Jugulator: the Unseen Presence at the Last Supper - 92%

bayern, May 16th, 2017

After releasing the finest metal album of all times with his comrades, Rob Halford decided that the old school held no more fascination for him, and decided to check the new possibilities that were opening with the influx of the groovy/grungy/alternative trends. His departure left a huge gap in the Judas line-up; one that took the remaining members quite some time before they managed to fill it in. Quite a few names were tossed around, some of them fairly prominent, but the guys voted to settle for the complete unknown at the time Tim Owens. For the more initiated the man wasn’t a total obscurity as he had taken part in Winters Bane, a fairly cool US power metal outfit, and earlier in the excellent thrash metal formation Brainicide, a forgotten gem from the late-80’s, of whom very few fans out there were, and still are, aware.

Being a most devoted fan to Judas and the Metal God, Owens had his dream come true when he was summoned under the British legends’ banner. This only meant one thing: the veterans were planning to produce a follow-up to “Painkiller”, the metal album to end all metal albums… not the most enviable task in the world at the time which ironically coincided with the emergence of Halford’s new project after the Fight demise, the industrial nonsense Two. The Metal God had already stained his reputation beyond repair… it seemed as though his former colleagues were preparing to head in the same direction… a follow-up to “Painkiller”, are you crazy!?

And not only, but the band’s intentions were only too clear from the very album-title; from “Painkiller” to “Jugulator”, the road least travelled I guess. And a journey most risky for sure which starts with the title-track its creepy steam-rolling beginning only boding well with Owens’ hellish screams nicely adding up to the drama that turns out a fairly pleasing modern power/thrasher with lashing steel guitars the overall delivery not that far from “Painkiller”, truth be told. Tipton and Downing seem in very good form exchanging hard biting guitar duels the whole time, the boosted modern production suiting them only too well. A surprisingly good start, and things only get better from here, first with “Blood Stained”, a pounding proto-thrashing modernizer; and then with “Dead Meat” which is an intense speed/thrashing shredder Owens’ outstanding vocals pouring more pathos into the “furnace”. More “dead”, or rather “death”, stuff with “Death Row” which has a misleading balladic inauguration the latter cancelled by seismic stomping guitars that remain for most of the time, guiding this relatively linear mid-pacer without many ups and downs.

“Decapitate” is the doomy respite, a volcanic heavy number with oppressing, dark atmosphere, and “Burn in Hell” is a brooding mid-tempo piece with an overlong quasi-balladic overture. “Brain Dead” notches up the heaviness again although the several more aggressive digressions threaten to turn it into a headbanging melee at some point. “Abductors” has none of the kind, though, and its doom-laden aesthetics are seldom violated enhanced by a few atmospheric balladisms. “Bullet Train” has to be fast in order to justify its title, and the fans won’t be disappointed as this is a more dynamic composition, a power/thrash hybrid with great piercing leads and an urgent, jumpy rhythm-section. “Cathedral Spires” is an ambitious 9.5-mn saga, something the guys haven’t attempted since their very early days (remember “Victim of Changes” and “Beyond the Realms of Death”). The balladic beginning works fine with Owens suitably emotional and subdued, but the real show stealer are the faster-paced crescendos which elevate this closer to the highlight status, not without the help of the superb memorable chorus and the nearly operatic doomy finale.

It sounded like a mission accomplished to these ears as this “Jugulator” was by no means a flop, and could even be considered a small victory against Halford’s controversial stylistic metamorphoses. At the same time, it didn’t sound radically different from Fight’s “War of Words” which could make one doubtful regarding the reasons about Halford’s departure from the band since some media pointed at “stylistic differences” between him and his colleagues. There isn’t a very big difference in the execution of the two efforts although the preferences may go towards the juggernaut.. sorry, jugulator here due to the still preserved echoes of the classic period. Owens does a very good job almost filling the Metal God’s very big shoes securing him at least one more showing with his idols.

Despite being a huge fan of the band, I can’t act hypocritical and pretend that Judas’ ride has been the smoothest on the field. In fact, their career has had the most fluctuating trajectory among the Big Five, and compared to the discographies, till the early-90’s at least, of the band’s main rivals Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Accept and Black Sabbath theirs has been by far the least consistent one comprising inordinate highs (“Defenders of the Faith”, “Painkiller”) and deplorable lows (“Point of Entry”, “Ram It Down”). In this train of thought the album reviewed here tends to gravitate towards the highs as it saw the veterans sounding totally relevant to the ruling fashions, and more than well equipped to race with the new stars on the field every bit of the way.

With the heavy burden taken off their shoulders, the guys were granted the permission to branch out into the unexpected, and “Demolition” appeared as a result. An album that tried to embrace as many numetal gimmicks as possible, it fell flat on its face prompting the Judas team to reconsider their partnership with Owens, and to let him go eventually. A timely decision that nearly coincided with Halford’s intentions on checking on his former partners, and see whether they were entertaining the thought of a possible reunion. Yes, they were, amazingly, and a few years after Iron Maiden Judas Priest were also back again in full “metal jacket”, being alive and well at present, with three more albums behind their backs. Any ideas or reviving either The Painkiller of The Jugulator? Better not; “monsters” of such earthshaking proportions should be better left hibernating… for good.

Like Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat. . . - 96%

Psychotic Fates, September 10th, 2014

. . .the Jugulator will reach in and rip your spine out.

Before we go any further we will note how much the sound of Judas falcon Priest has varied over the years, always staying current yet putting their own spin on things, often influenced by bands they themselves inspired. Here they play power/thrash metal which is a logical step up from Painkiller, an excellent album just a little too homogenized. Painkiller was mostly speed metal that ran together with a few mid paced riffs and songs to break it up and the horribly misplaced A Touch of Evil that threw the mood askew. The songs on it's a damn Jugulator sound similar as well, yes, but there's better track placement and no Touch of Evils.

The reason I mention all this is because this album is hated by many Brain Dead folks, after all there's a fucking new guy: Tim fucking Ownsyou, who's even better than Rob "Ripper Sr." Halford, and that fact really bums out the fanboys. Now, I love classic JP or Japes; hell the Halfordian is one of the prime metal voices, without him to inspire Tim fuckOwensing, who knows if the man would have ever sang the way he does. He's a more extreme version of his dad which suits the mindset of late 90s Japes, a time when groove metal was all the rage. The lyrics have taken a beating on this disc and they are, along with T.O. at times, almost too brutal, but they fit the rip-throat riffs. And because it's so heavy (easily the heaviest offering from Japes) it makes sense to have a younger, pissed off version of 'ole Rob on vox like it makes sense to have 'iron clawed' lyrics.

Blood Stained is a religio/politico observation and the vicious Bullet Train shows how Japes can integrate groove metal into their classic, melodic aesthetic with both thug-like vocals and actual singing. Toronto Tim Owens does the Anselmo 'HUH!!!' thing for the "Death defy me scrutinize me" lines while howling "With each new mile standing on trial" during the pre-chorus. And there's no weak songs on here, everything is tits. Let's look at these alien Abductors (see this album is less dumb than Painkiller) with that unnerving clean strumming/chanting break at the 2 minute mark where Toronto Tim carries it for a bit. Then there's the apocalyptic Cathedral Spires with lyrics that I imagine anyone can relate to at some point in their lives, we all get tired of the miserable existence we've created for ourselves and the eventual doom we have coming regardless.

And yet rather than wallow in the depression that such knowledge can bring the Jugulator destroys everything. Quenched by violence these guys, these fucking guys, were having the time of their lives playing this shit; and they all get their chances to shine. Ian steps-out-from-under-Hill in a way not seen since the very early days of Japes. Take Burn in Hell with its anxious, brooding intro where the guitar picking creates the unease while a throbbing bass riff creeps from the shadows. In comes the (Heart of a) killer whaling, asking the question: "HAVE YOU GOT A GUNT?!" Eventually we explode into mid-paced yet furious riffing; the whole thing streamlined by the bass, providing the murder demon with a strong spine. And during the "stuck like a hog" segment Toronto descends into sleazy, unholy lows before turning it around for the ending chorus reprisal. Halford's only son then steps up octaves until he hits the stratosphere and stays there in pitch perfect comfort, earning his place in Heavy Metal Valhalla.

This is the most musically rich thing that the Japes pantheon has done since their 70s deeds, what with your steel bass and its little quick licks, adding weight to the meaty riffs. The riffs cycle through different styles and often, while there's a main riff being played, another guitar will do an accent riff run off of it. And of course, let's not forget about the solos, they burn fast but frequently, passing by in a tasty flash kind of like the solos on Painkiller; only condensed, overdriven and shredded. The drums of Goro err. . .Scott Travis are a little in the back with this mix but he gives his kit a sound thrashing nonetheless.

Closer Cathedral Spires is one of the most epic deeds done by Japes, right up there with the Dreamer Deceiver/Deceiver suite; only where that was introspective Cosmicism, Cathedral Spires is Doomsday. It starts with the cold ring of clean arpeggios, picked crystalline harmonics joining in a dolorous symphony, as woeful vocals slowly rise until we escalate into the devastating riff of the next level. Attempts to leave the chaos earth and reach the clouds are made until a triumphant doom metal riff, as triumphant as the sadness of heaven, takes us to the final level. Hear chanting vocals are steadily dubbed in with more vocals, rising higher and intensifying until this song explodes in mighty ruin, ending an awesome journey. By now there should be no doubt that this Welshman is the new Metal God.

And I'm spent, denouement time.

I must touch upon how well produced this is and how underrated the 90s metal scene was in relation to that. The 80s was the Golden Age when the best music was written, but the 90s are superior sound-wise. Between the basement lo-fi of yore and the sickeningly clean, overly produced stifle of today was the perfect 90s, where the sound was cleaned up just the right amount without losing teeth, instead the crunch is tempered by a modern touch. The Chemical Wedding, Paradise Lost and this goddamned album are cases in point.

Jugulator is a classic in its own right folks, and I know some of you are open-minded enough to realize that. It's not The Heavy Metal Bible that is Sad Wings of Destiny but from the Japes mythology have sprung many different beasts. This particular beast: the Jugulator, kills posers and drops panties. At times it's a little cheesy, yes, but that isn't always bad, it all depends on the delivery. And with Tim the FNG, who is so ultra confident it's an understatement to just call it astounding, they get a tongue-in-cheek pass. Even more astounding is that this was his debut with a band that carries as much weight as Japes does.

Also, it is beyond cheesy to call him Ripper. The name is Owens. Tim Owens.

Darker and thrashier Priest - 80%

ViciousFriendlyFish, December 12th, 2013

The main thing that strikes you when you first discover this album is that Rob Halford is absent. He left in the early 90s and was replaced by a Judas Priest tribute singer named Tim 'Ripper' Owens. However, this is by no means an attempt to write another Painkiller just because they have a similar sounding vocalist. In fact, it's a refreshing attempt to move forward with a darker sound that seems to take an influence from thrash and groove metal and features down tuned guitars, something the band had not previously tried. Being fond of thrash metal, myself, I find that there is a lot to like here.

The album uses drums and guitars of varying speeds. This is especially evident in the title track, which opens the album and is an intense tune. It begins with a strange kind of rhythm that sounds like machines clattering together, which is followed shortly by sinister guitar riffs and drums. 'Ripper' delivers many spoken word and sung parts in a lower octave throughout the album. But of course, he also shows off his high vocal range by screaming and wailing much like Halford, yes his high singing is put to good use rather than just being there for the sake of it.

There are songs like "Dead Meat" that remind me a little bit of bands like Pantera and Slayer, who are generally labelled groove metal and thrash metal. "Bullet Train" certainly wouldn't feel too out of place as a Slayer song, either. Of course, I'm only making comparisons because of the musical influences on this album. At no point do I feel like Priest are ripping them off. It's tracks like "Dead Meat" and also "Brain Dead" that I feel use the down tuned guitars the most effectively; the lyrics explore themes such as the apocalypse, non-conformity, and death. The band makes something of a statement in "Brain Dead" that a man shouldn't live off a machine, incapable of doing anything and trapped in his thoughts due to the loss of any physical functionality. It's part of what makes this album much darker than their past material with Halford. We hear almost-demonic vocals from Ripper in "Burn In Hell", a song that starts out quiet and builds up to heavy guitars and drums, like many other songs on this album.

One of the best songs is the closing track, "Cathedral Spires", which is a 9-minute epic. The first part of the song is perhaps the first time the music actually feels sad. Up until this point, the music sounded consistently angry, whether it was slow, fast, quiet, or loud. It's a song about the world ending, about how we should "rise up and retire / watching as the world expires". It carries on from the lyrical topics of the end of the world and evil that were explored in previous songs. It's fairly slow but still containing the heavy down tuned guitars. The song ends with a repeated chant of the chorus' lyrics before the music ends with a crash, like the world has exploded.

Overall, Jugulator is a strong effort from a band faced with the challenge of replacing a key member. For fans of groove/thrash metal and fans of Priest, this album is worth picking up. You may end up really enjoying it. Their next and final album with 'Ripper' Owens, Demolition, is more of a mixed bag, experimenting with other styles, but still has several moments of brilliance. But that is for a future review...

Thugulator - 40%

autothrall, April 23rd, 2012

When I think back on the Tim 'Ripper' Owens era of Judas Priest I have to consider it against the greater schema of the band's legacy and my reactions to it. By the time Painkiller had been released, it was in my opinion the pinnacle of their career. They were touring arenas, kicking asses everywhere, much to the surprise of those who might have felt underwhelmed at Turbo or Ram It Down, and they had honed their traditional nuance for catchy chorus melodies and huge, inspirational riffs to its most aggressive and memorable potential. They were, in short, on the top of the world, and I think they would have easily been forgiven, if after all that touring and murdering audiences, they took a break through most of the 90s to pursue solo projects and perhaps ease tensions in the ranks.

But that's just not how it panned out. The band wanted to continue without Rob Halford, and he wanted to try his hand and lungs at different sounds like the street-oriented thrashing groove outfit Fight, or the later NIN clone Two. The rest of the band had families to feed, a reputation to uphold, and a genuine desire to keep touring and enjoying the lifestyle and livelihood they had pursued for over 20 years. Granted, unless they had been pissing their money away on coke and gambling, these guys were probably already set for life. A well paid and well loved entity who could tour the world on short notice, and whose famous singles were so heavily embedded into radio rotation that royalties would be paying for the education of their great grandchildren. And, fuck it, as mediocre as their following studio output would prove, they had every right to go on about their business and leave Halford behind them.

But here's the problem: if you took the best elements of EVERY studio record this band would record post-Painkiller, with Owens OR Halford at the helm, and mashed them together into the skeleton of a single album, it would not be good enough to serve Painkiller its high tea. Or clip that album's hedges. Or deliver its milk to the door. In fact, I don't think a single full-length produced past 1990 could compete with any album the band released prior to that date, not even the heavily divisive efforts like Point of Entry or Turbo; and unfortunately, Jugulator, the debut of Rob Halford's 'replacement', was the first in the barrage of lackluster studio offerings which itself has now spanned nearly two decades. This is a downright miserable record which attempts to season the aggression of their magnum opus with a relish of darker, trendy thrashing 'tough guy' hostility (circa Pantera) while at the same time introducing a new voice which, despite an obviously earnest effort, fails to meet expectations.

Now, everything I've read or seen of Tim Owens tells me that he's a stand up guy, with a good heart and a professional attitude. On a personal level, I think a chap like this deserves a shot. His performance on the Winters Bane debut Heart of a Killer seemed to suit him well, and he's a well practiced technical singer with a range, part of which encompassed the shrieking heights of his predecessor. This was no 'Blaze Bayley' choice. Priest were intent on snapping up someone who could handle their vast backlog of material without rocking and capsizing the boat. But for some reason, when listening to his throughput in either of the records he fronted for the metal gods, I can't help but think Owens tries too hard. Whether this was at the direction of the band veterans or producers or his own judgment is somewhat obfuscated, but his inflection always seems like a chameleon attempting to blend into a new environment rather just relaxing in its native climate.

His presence here is splattered with all manner of schizoid dynamics and special effects that are balanced off against a rather dry, central scream which is devoid of that same, piercing timbre that was so memorable about Halford. You can barely go through a handful of lyric lines on this album without some erratic, distracted bullshit happening, like the lame gang shouts in the first track ("Jugulator") itself, or the constant multi-tracked sneers and snarls or almost guttural vocals he uses to support his angrier mid range ("Blood Stained" and elsewhere). Again, on a technical basis, he hits his targets and does not shy away from the angrier persona required to complement the 'toughness' of the guitars' thrash orientation, but ultimately it feels the least genuine performance on any Priest record. Incredibly forced, as if you were to trace an image on paper, peel it off the original, then try and match them again physically to find that they weren't quite congruent.

But then, I can't really blame Owens for the underwhelming bravado of the musical composition, which lies squarely on the shoulders of the old timers. Predictable, power/thrash architecture which sacrifices much of the melodic, memory searing brilliance of the previous album for the sheer weight of force. The riffs and rhythm section are incredibly precise, with Downing and Tipton never backing down from their own physical exertion, but it's just so banal and boring. Manic, frivolous leads that build upon the Painkiller formula sans the catchiness, and even where the pair rips into tremolo picking sequences or churning hardcore/thrash grooves, they still do not seem to be able to implement this belligerence into anything that warrants recycled listens. Even after 15 years and numerous returns to re-evaluate Jugulator, I can find nothing new here, nothing 'grown' upon me, nothing subtle or interesting, just a washed out meat tenderizer to the face, bludgeoning away past its shelf life.

Seriously, listen to the riffs in the verse of "Blood Stained" or the slower grooves in "Abductors". Any quartet of Pantera-driven 15 year-olds in my county in 1995 might have crafted a more compelling, violent groove than this mundane, muted patterns. Jugulator is not without some atmosphere, as they incorporate a lot of dour, cleaner guitars to let Owens resonate with his multi-tracked screams (much like Rob), but even at its most 'tender' moments the album feels like a dud. I can't imagine that if Halford were to jam with, say, Dimebag Darrell or Rob Flynn, that the results would turn out so soddenly average and uninspired. Are there a few exceptions? Perhaps "Bullet Train" maintains an interesting, mechanical aesthetic for 30 or so seconds, and the epic finale "Cathedral Spires" is stronger than everything leading up to it, but even these tunes have their moments of disinterest me like the bombastic bridge grooves of the latter.

To its credit, Jugulator is not the very worst of the Judas Priest records, nor is it as awful as other midlife crisis records like Risk, Diabolus in Musica, Virtual XI or St. Anger. It still draws a pretty clear lineage from the band's prior works in 1988-1990, and it feels distinctly 'Priest' even with Owens at the helm. I like the loud and abrasive production of Scott Travis' drums, and where the band layers on the effects and atmosphere, even the varied vocal tracks it all gels from a production standpoint as this modern evolution of their sound. The lyrics are very often trite and pedestrian but at least many of them have a relevant point. I just can't help but think that the Brits would have turned out better if they just waited for a reunion album (which did happen eventually) or toured with guest singers. Or maybe they should have just gone and hired Ralf Scheepers, whose wild and absurd tones feel like a better, more powerful match to the band's material for me (hell, for all my post-1990 JP needs I just turn to the better Primal Fear records like Black Sun, Nuclear Fire or Jaws of Death).

There simply aren't enough of those wonderful vocal melodies here for me to grasp, or volcanic guitar riffs that drove Painkiller into an instant, accessible immortality. Jugulator is heavy, and it tries to keep with the times, and I don't fault it for those traits, I simply wish they had been better implemented. The jump da fuck up chorus parts like in "Blood Stained" are like a terrible foreshadowing to crap like Drowningpool's "Bodies", and despite the myriad personalities of Owens' inflections, I never felt a genuine threat to the music, whereas "Painkiller" made me clutch my blankets in nervous sweat as I looked out into the night, fearing what might be coming down through the skyline in a wreath of irradiated fire. Jugulator seems little more than weak flesh being grafted onto a solid steel skeleton, and I'm no more able to get into it today than I was in 1997.


A refreshing painkiller that is breaking the laws - 97%

kluseba, November 15th, 2011

What a surprise! Seven years after the very well received band classic "Painkiller", the band parted ways and seemed to be buried for all times. But at a certain moment, the remaining members of Judas Priest reanimated the band without their charismatic front singer Rob Halford and chose the young American Tim "Ripper" Owens who was playing Judas Priest cover songs in his early years. Everybody would have expected a poor attempt to earn some money and copy the style of the band's greatest successes.

But this album came as a surprise that went straight and without any compromises in the face of many fans. At least the record is accepted and got some positive reconsideration by most of the critics but at the time of its release, this album was a shock. Judas Priest doesn’t play hard rock or heavy metal on this record. They play straight thrash metal with some death metal elements plus industrial sound effects and discordant disharmonic guitar solos that remind a lot of Voivod on this dark album. The main topic is about the dark side of life, death and sinner and finally the end of the world.

Many people will now judge quickly and say that the band tried to catch up the trend train and win some fans among the younger generation that rather listened to thrash and death metal during the nineties when many heavy metal bands quit or had difficult times and when metal music became once again an underground movement that couldn't attract as many people as grunge, pop punk and rap did. Well, these people are not so wrong as this record sounds pretty modern and open-minded.

Critics will compare this release to Iron Maiden's dark and mostly unpopular release "X Factor" and compare the situation of Judas Priest to a situation that many bands lived during the nineties such as Voivod: they walked on new paths; they had to replace some original members and faced rather poor crowds during concerts and mediocre sell quotes. The critics are once again right.

Critics will judge this era of Judas Priest as a weaker one as the original line-up ultimately reunited as it was also the case of Iron Maiden or Voivod. They will claim that many fans forgot about "Jugulator" and also "Demolition" and rather hailed the comeback release "Angel Of Retribution". They will say that the quality of this record can't catch up with old and new Judas Priest releases. They are once again not far away as many people still don't overall accept this release and the band gained more popularity after the comeback.

But as in the case of Iron Maiden's "X Factor" or Voivod's "Phobos", I must admit that "Jugulator" is one of my very favourite releases of Judas Priest. It sounds raw, fresh and simply unexpected to me. It's a welcome change of style and rebirth of a legend that nobody expected. After the mediocre last release "Nostradamus", a strange series of concerts and the unexpected departure of K.K. Downing, I would even say that I would have preferred the band to stay together with Tim Owens. He's not yet as amazing and technically skilled on this release as he would be later but he has a very charismatic voice, a lot of talent and some much needed energy and did a very well job on here that can mess up with Rob Halford's performances. His stage acting might be less charismatic but he is a very gifted singer.

Concerning the music, the band used a lot of atmospheric interludes, industrial sounds and sound collage effects that give this album a very desperate atmosphere. The drums are heavy and powerful, the main riffs very heavy and memorable, the guitar solos disctorted and insane and the bass guitar is very charismatic with its galloping chords as usual. The title track kicks off the album on a high note and already resumes what awaits us for the next hour to come: dark industrial sounds with intense riffs, distorted guitar solos, piercing screams, progressive and surprising changes of style and catchy vocal lines.

The album sounds very coherent without being closed minded and dull. The structures of the tracks are comparable but never ever alike. Every song has something special to offer. One of my favourite tracks is the very dark, aggressive and intense "Death Row" that has an atmospheric introduction that shivers down my spine each time I listen to it. The main riff is maybe the heaviest one the band has ever pulled off in their career. The sound effects in the chorus and in the bridges a lot of intensity to the track, the vocals are unchained and insane and the guitar riffs are gone wild. You must be deaf to not head bang along to this treasure. Another highlight is the surprising single "Burn In Hell" that kicks off very slow and develops into a more and more intense and pitiless track. The opening guitar riff is simple but effective, the bass guitar feels like pumping blood and the vocals are amazingly diversified as I never heard it from Rob Halford. The song is also catchy as hell. As a third highlight, I would cite the great epic album closer "Cathedral Spires" that is a little bit calmer than the rest and features an amazing vocal performance by Tim Owens who simply beats himself once again. That being said, there is not one single weak track on the record maybe a part of the groove metal orientated "Blood Stained" that is only pretty good but not as excellent as the rest. Let's also add that this album has really grown on me. A few years ago I would have given about ten percent less than today but as I got more and more open-minded musically and especially towards extreme metal stuff, this record gets more and more precious to me.

My final verdict may surprise you as much as it surprises me. I really like early Judas Priest with albums like "Sad Wings Of Destiny", "Sin After Sin" and "Stained Class". Without a doubt, I have hailed tracks like "Breaking The Law", "The Hellion / Electric Eye" or "Painkiller" but my ultimate favourite record is "Jugulator", the most surprising album of the band. Give this album a fair try after all these years and rediscover it. Don't even try to compare this to the records of the band as this is completely unique and this is what this record's charm is all about. I cut off one point for “Blood Stained” and one point for a minimal lack of diversity at some parts and another point for the mediocre album cover but I'm still surprised about this forgotten little masterpiece. It will never have the status of "British Steel" or "Painkiller" but open-minded metal maniacs and true Judas Priest fans should nevertheless adore this album.


Metal_Jaw, November 6th, 2011

Let's get thing out of the way; this isn't really Judas Priest. Sure it's labeled as such, but think about. This is kind of like the American Godzilla film from 1998; it may be a movie about a giant lizard dubbed Godzilla that attacks a major city, but can one really label it a true Godzilla film? OH FUCK NO! Not even close. This album isn't really true Judas Priest. Sure it carries the label and sound a little like it, but when I think a Priest classic, I don't think a quasi-thrash album.

However, having said that, is this a bad album? Well, sort of. A number of the songs downright blow and are mostly forgettable. But the songs that are good are actually pretty fucking awesome. Most of the Priest badboys are here and accounted for. Glenn Tipton and KK Downing create a killer whirlwind of cool solos and some vicious riffs, as well as the album's dark, apocalyptic lyrics, a move often incorrectly attributed to then new guy Tim "The Ripper" Owens. Speaking of whom, this guy is actually pretty damn good in all fairness. He has quite a great Halford-esque wail, as well as a pretty cool and even classy-sounding mid-level voice. However, his overuse of guttural growling and similar vocal techniques gets worn out and even a little obnoxious at times, again further from differentiating this album from the classic Priest mold. Rounding out the cast is Ian Hill on bass, now more up front thanks in part to the songs' heavy and vicious riffs, and the great Scott Travis on drums, who is now more in the background thanks to the production, but thankfully he pounds those skins hard and fast enough so his immense talents aren't totally wasted.

A number of these songs, with their thrash-like speed and heaviness, don't exactly scream classic Judas Priest as I've mentioned, but a few are pretty cool. The title track has a goofy but interesting mechanical-sounding opening that segways into a song with decent riffing and a great solo; The Ripper's vocals soar in particular on this track. "Dead Meat", oft disliked by my fellow metalheads, I find pretty kick-ass. It starts with a synthesized sound of a growling dog, letting the listener know that they certainly will become dead meat. This leads directly into arguably the album's heaviest and most brutal riff, yet it's still somewhat catchy. A particularly classily-sung chorus from The Ripper rounds this one out. "Blood-Stained" has cool lyrics and more killer riffing, though I find the solo to be a bit long and forgettable. The legendary "Bullet Train" is also great, with a great solo, catchy vocals and screams, a catchy pre-chorus and main chorus, catchy riffs; it's catchy all around! The 9-minute closer "Cathedral Spires" is also often maligned for some reason I can't think off; it's so epic! Melodic guitarwork mixes with the super-heavy bass work to make for something both beautiful and harsh. Most other songs don't cut it. "Death Row" is mostly taken up by a too-long spoken intro that was done better on Priest's own "Night Crawler" or the hilarious opening to Grim Reaper's "Final Scream". When the song eventually does get going, it has "filler" written all over it. The too-heavy yet not heavy enough "Decapitate" is also fillerish and suffers from overly-simple lyrics, while songs like "Burn In Hell" goes on for too long with an over-long solo and yet another over-long opening.

Overall, "Jugulator" suffers somewhat for its overlong songs, occasionally too-dark lyrics and inconsistent vocal work, but what few songs that rock rock pretty hard and use the album's flaws to their advantage. Is it a good Judas Priest album? Not really. But look at it as just another metal album, it's not too bad despite the flaws which hold it back.

One of the albums Priest fans LOVE to hate - 90%

caspianrex, December 8th, 2010

Let's just come right out and admit, right from the get go, that "Ripper" Owens never adequately replaced the mighty Halford. I mean, there are few voices in heavy metal history that can compete with Halford's pipes. So it's no wonder that the majority of reviews of Jugulator one reads tend to view the record from an automatically biased viewpoint: i.e., Owens is no Halford. I'd like to NOT dwell on the obvious differences between Halford and Owens, and take the album on its own merits. It's difficult, but I'll try.

Listening to Jugulator with fresh ears, if you will, I have to say, right off the bat, that this is a pretty heavy album. The guitars are solid and crunchy, with a nice death metally low-tuned sound to them. The drum work is consistently solid. And whoever says Owens lacks Halford's high notes is simply not being honest. (Whoops, I'm already comparing Owens to Halford...see what I mean?) Anyway, Owens does some truly frightening screaming on this record, and his lower range is really growly and--dare I say it?--masculine. At the moment I'm writing this, I'm listening again to "Dead Meat," and the range Owens displays is tremendous: everything from a low, menacing growl to a high, strident metal scream. (You also have to love the guitar solos on this track, jumping from speaker to speaker.)

Backing up a little bit, I'd also like to present the title track "Jugulator" as an example of excellent late 90s heavy metal. The atmosphere starts out with a bit of an industrial flavor, and opens up into some pounding, thrashy metal. (Once again, props to Scott Travis for the excellent drum work.) Try listening to "Jugulator" (the song) with a copy of the album cover art in front of you. The menacing ambience of the track matches that horrific monster on the cover beautifully.

"Burn in Hell" was made into a video, which I will admit I haven't seen, but is a nice example of the range this incarnation of Priest was capable of. Sure, the title is a little corny, but there again, "You've Got Another Thing Coming" isn't exactly the least cliched song in heavy metal history. The nice thing with "Burn in Hell" is how it starts kind of quietly sinister, then builds into a raging screamfest as the song continues. And I hate to belabor the point, but anyone who says "Ripper" can't scream hasn't listened to this song, either. The guy's got some fierce rage in his voice that fits quite well with this incarnation of the band.

One more track that stands out is the final tune "Cathedral Spires." The opening slow section is really beautifully written and performed, and when it kicks into the heavy section, it's a thundering success. Heavy, menacing, raging...this track is a good example of what Priest was capable of in this era, I think. For those who like a little harmony singing in their heavy metal (as I do), this song has a little something for everyone. At over nine minutes long, this is a battering assault on the listener, and a fine way to wrap up a Judas Priest album.

As I said above, it's not easy to approach this album in an unprejudiced fashion. Rob Halford is not the kind of lead singer who can leave a band without leaving a gaping hole behind. It happened with Iron Maiden when Bruce Dickinson left. And honestly, I think JP did a far better job of finding a replacement than Iron Maiden did. No, Tim "Ripper" Owens was not a Halford copy, but he was a fine lead singer in his own right. And the band certainly didn't give up their vitality when they made this record. Is it as classic as British Steel? No. Is it a good, solid heavy metal that is a treat to listen to? I think so.

There’s no excuse for this - 35%

The_CrY, August 4th, 2010

When you say Judas Priest, your mind instantly travels through time and you name up classics like “Tyrant”, “Beyond the Realms of Death”, “Metal Gods”, “Love Bites” or “Painkiller”. Without hesitation you think about Rob Halford’s high-pitched vocals and the superb guitarduels between Glenn Tipton and KK Downing. But there’s a darker side to this band and it came right up when Halford called it quits. As a result Tipton and Downing, both accustomed to writing good songs, took Halford-wannabe Tim Ripper Owens to replace the Metal God on vocals. Don’t you want to know how that turned out? No you don’t. I usually dig albums other people loath, but Jugulator just lacks creativity in every corner and sounds terribly uninspired. It’s been seven years since previous album Painkiller, which everyone remembers as one of Priest’s greatest. Whether Downing and Tipton wanted to create something in the same vein or something totally new is not clear. The music sounds like a parody of what Priest was before and I daresay the band just needed a reason to tour. And of course, there are enjoyable parts on this album, but most of it’s pushed towards the end of the record or it’s ruined by what follows.

Let’s begin with Halford’s replacement Tim “Ripper” Owens. Some people praise his vocal talents and his range, saying he resembles Rob Halford. Well, he tries very hard to resemble the man, but he does not really succeed. Halford could actually sing in the higher regions of his range, while Owens only screams and he doesn’t even hit half the height Halford does. Not that it matters, but the man really is annoying to listen to. His screams sound fucked up, his lower voice sounds cheesy as hell and sometimes he just sounds like a barbarian that’s about to attack a wild boar. Then there’s the boring songwriting. There are riffs I made up the first year I picked up a guitar. The best example is the opening track “Jugulator”. It begins with a nice machine-like rhythm (could make you think Priest is joining the industrial rise), but is quickly ruined by a cheese-evil theme and eventually bursts out into a three chord riff that is just too ridiculous for words. The lyrics on the song are so wannabe Halford, about freaky monsters and terribly beasts. But this is not convincing. The same formula of boring riffs and annoying vocals is used at tracks like “Dead Meat” or “Decapitate”. It sounds just so unprofessional it’s like a textbook “How to make my first metal song”. Then there’s “Death Row”, which actually flows pretty well if you don’t count the tiresome fragment at the beginning... that is, until you hear the chorus. Are we listening to a band playing (or trying to play) metal or is this a child’s party and we’re singing nice cozy songs?

Then the positive side of the album... I’ve been negative for far too long now. As I mentioned before there are some better songs near the end of the album with the exception of “Blood Stained”, which is number two. The said song is not really different from the others around it in terms of sound, riffage or structure, but the major difference is: it flows and stays cool ‘til the end. This is also what makes “Abductors” and “Bullet Train” more successful creations than crap like “Burn in Hell” or “Dead Meat”. And if a song doesn’t flow, it’s not a good song. If it does, then you can be proud like on “Bullet Train”, which is full of adrenaline and deserves to be written by Judas Priest, and “Abductors”, which begins evil and stays evil. And when you’ve achieved that, you find you can also like Owens’ vocals. Then there’s “Cathedral Spires”; the long song of the album. Peaking at a little over nine minutes, this song is a true epic consisting of three parts: the first part is a ballad, the second a rocker with an anthemic chorus and the third is a mesmerizing continuation of the anthem from part two. And when you’re done listening to these tracks, you begin to wonder why they didn’t bother to write more songs that actually sound good?

In short, Jugulator is a bad album with some positive surprises. This is Judas Priest being totally confused about what the hell they are, what they’re supposed to do and what the hell metal is. Still, I would recommend the last three tracks to any Priest fan, since they are really good tracks. As for the overall album; avoid it. Don’t be seduced by the cover.

Strongest tracks: “Bullet Train” and “Cathedral Spires”.
Weakest tracks: “Jugulator”, “Dead Meat”, “Death Row” and the others minus “Blood Stained” and “Abductors.

They have taken the wrong direction. - 67%

evermetal, October 22nd, 2009

In 1991 an atomic bomb exploded in the metal world shattering the dreams of many fans. The mythical singer of Judas Priest, Rob Halford, a man who influenced so many other singers, announced that he was going to leave the band! He wanted to do something personal and either he couldn’t manage to give the best of himself in two fronts either he was not satisfied with Priest’s music direction. By the way, it turned out to be a completely wrong move. For a time the band thought of splitting-up. Finally they decided that they had the strength to move on. After many auditions his replacement was found in the face of a not so well known singer, Tim “Ripper” Owens and only seven years later they returned with their new album, Jugulator.

At first I was not so sure on whether he could stand up to his role. Yet he proved me wrong. Owens is a good apprentice of Halford both in singing and performing. That part went well. He may not possess the extreme high notes in which Halford had got us used to; still he stands decently giving the best of him. But what about the album itself? Was it worth the expectation after years of silence? Well…

In terms of music, Jugulator is kind of strange to me. They follow paths they had never attempted to tread in the past. It is one of the toughest things they have recorded with heavy, sharp guitars and very heavy drums but the thing is that many themes bring in mind bands so different from them like Machine Head or Pantera. I am not the only one to think of this. The straight-in your face metal riffs have become more complex and it make it somehow difficult to believe that this is a Judas Priest album. Of course I didn’t expect it to be Painkiller Pt.2 but something quite similar.

There are certain songs that I really liked too much like Dead Meat with the very heavy solid guitars and bombastic drums. Owens screams and yells with much aggression and harshness and he is clearly a pleasant surprise. Another track that stands out is Burn in Hell. An atmospheric intro is followed by strong drumming by Scott Travis who is proved to be an excellent choice for Priest. The guitar riffs are heavy as fuck making the song a blaster that blows you to pieces.

Another favorite of mine is Death Row. The once again razor sharp guitars stick to your head and the chorus is so inspired that I found myself singing along many times. Of course Tipton and Downing remain in great form, composing amazing solos and guitar parts for most of the time. The bass as always is firm and steady though a bit in the background.

But who would expect them to be the only three fantastic songs in a total of ten in a Judas Priest album? The band that gave us so many heavy metal hymns in the past seems to have run out of ideas. The majority of the tracks are less interesting to the point of becoming boring. Such is the nine-minute last song, Cathedral Spires. It sounds endless every time I listen to it and to be honest, it challenges me to push the STOP button before it ends.

Thank God there is no balladry stuff here like they have done on their next albums and that’s a good thing. Yet all the remaining songs are pretty mediocre and they have nothing special to contribute. Decapitate, Jugulator and Brain Dead are pure fillers. They are all heavy but somewhere on the way the cheese prevails. Their heavy breaks are not enough to save the day.

In overall, Jugulator is an album most likely to confuse you. If you wish to see a change and development in Priest’s music, this one is for you. But if you want to remember them in the way they used to be then you must surely listen to it before investing your money or hopes of a glorious comeback.

It Would've Made a Better Debut... - 75%

Twisted_Psychology, July 13th, 2009

Despite being something of a vocalist myself, I never get too caught up in the drama of a certain lead singer's departure. Many of my favorite bands such as Black Sabbath and Iced Earth have gone through many different singers over the years yet continued to release quality material and I've always held to the belief that any line-up can release something successful as long as there is still a strong songwriting team at its core. But what happens when a great change completely transforms a band's sound and leads to a completely different sounding outfit; should they continue under the old name or adopt a new moniker? That is the question that is posed with the release of 1997's downtuned mindfuck "Jugulator," the very first Priest album to feature Tim "Ripper" Owens on lead vocals.

As much as I hate to take away credit from the other Priest members of the past and present (especially band founder and original vocalist Al Atkins), I don't think it's really Judas Priest anymore when you take away Rob Halford's influential voice and solid lyrics. That's certainly not said to insult Owens either for he is one of the most powerful vocalists in modern metal and went on to do great things in future projects. I just feel that the absence of the Metal God had somehow resulted with the creation of a completely different sounding band...

For one thing, the album's style and musical content sounds nothing like the Priest of old. There are absolutely no references to the "classic" 80's era and the style of 1990's "Painkiller" is only felt at a minimum on faster tracks such as the Grammy nominated "Bullet Train" and the somewhat robotic title track. Even then, the speeds never even come close to approaching those of anything on that album. Instead we are presented with some kind of hybrid that combines Slayer, Pantera, Alice in Chains, and Metallica with a guy who can shriek like Halford here and there...

As expected with this combination in mind, most of the songs on this album tend to revolve around heavy downtuned riffs and groovy mid-tempo song structures with a few darker touches here and there. "Blood Stained" and "Death Row" are probably the strongest tracks of this style with their muddy riffs, muscular drumming, and solid hooks (especially on the latter). Other tracks such as "Burn In Hell" and "Cathedral Spires" also have their mid-tempo moments, but the former is made memorable by an infectiously building structure and the latter is an apocalyptic epic that even the haters of this album can enjoy.

Aside from the drastic musical changes rubbing some listeners rubbing the wrong way, this album's biggest flaw lies in its lyrics. Just as Halford did with Fight, the band seems to go for a much darker outlook and more socially conscious themes. The album's topics range from the state of the world ("Blood Stained"), execution ("Dead Meat," "Death Row," and "Decapitate"), to the end of said world ("Cathedral Spires"). Unfortunately, Priest failed where Fight had succeeded and come off as primitive rather than clever...

All in all, I can say that album makes for a pretty enjoyable listen for any open-minded music fans out there. Of course, I still think Priest should've changed their name to fit this album's style. Hell, Jugulator sounds like it would've been a good name for the band as well as the album. Kinda like how Winters Bane's first two albums after Owens' departure were released under the Kill Procedure moniker...

1) Heavy riffs, hard-hitting drums, and excellently delivered vocals
2) The songs themselves are pretty enjoyable for the most part
3) Good variety of styles

1) Primitive lyrics
2) Drastic change of style may turn off some fans
3) "Abductors" and "Brain Dead" fall short of the other songs' quality

My Current Favorites:
"Blood Stained," "Death Row," "Burn In Hell," "Bullet Train," and "Cathedral Spires"

Oh! We're so tired. Must appeal to young people. - 52%

Karamunga, June 12th, 2009

When a band changes an important (i.e. non-bassist and non-drummer) member of its band, and people dislike the new sound, it is often blamed on the vocalist. People who hated The X Factor often blamed Blaze Bailey, people who hated Falling Into Infinity often blamed Derek Sherinian and people who hate Jugulator often blame Tim Owens.

But the vocals aren't a problem here. Tim Owens is a competent vocalist – he just doesn't get used as he should. The problem is that it's just so dull.

The majority of the riffs on this album have no memorable quality about them at all. They're not horrible, they're just so bland and mediocre. The band also down-tuned for this album and, while this isn't necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, it brings with it the implication that the band down-tuned and started playing these mid-tempo groove based riffs in an attempt to “modernize” the band's sound.

A specific example of dull riffs would be the song Brain Dead (a title that describes how I feel when listening to the song). The verse riff is just a power chord, with a typical 'Slayer at 90bpm' riff every 4 bars. Before the chorus, the riff changes to a purely power chord based riff, with distorted guitar harmonics over it. The guitar harmonics are there because the song is about someone who is on life support, but it doesn't help with the comparisons to numetal because it just reminds me of Machine Head.

The leads of K. K. Downing and Glenn Tipton sound dull and uninspired, and specifically sound like the work of Hanneman and King.

Most of the songs begin with either a clean passage, or some sound effects and spoken words, or a clean passage underneath some sound effects and spoken words. These range from the mildly annoying (Brain Dead opening with the sound of a car crash, followed by police car sirens rushing to the scene), to the truly cringe-worthy (Death Row opening with a conversation between a prisoner, evidently on death row, and a gruff security guard who says without a word of irony “Sorry, son. Commit a crime – pay the price,” later following it up with “Dead man walking.”). I expect sound effects and samples in every other song from some bands, but I can't help but get the feeling that the band didn't think that their audience would understand Tipton's deep lyrics unless they included all of these annoying sound effects and samples to show them what the songs were about.

“Death Row? Hm. I wonder if this song's about Glenn's feelings on Accept's 1994 album. Or a song about Dr. Dre's former record label. ...oh, no. What a buffoon I am. It's about someone who has been sentenced to death, and whose warden thinks that he is Kurt Russell”

Lyrics have never been the band's strong point, but these are some of the worst I've ever heard. If you look at the song titles list and think “man, those are some infantile song-titles,” then the lyrics will make you either wince in agony or howl with unstoppable laughter.

But the thing that bothers me most about this album is that there are some nuggets in here that are good, and a couple that are really great. Once you get past the awful intro, Death Row is fun and has a catchy chorus. The song that actually annoys me the most is Bullet Train, because after listening to the intro to Demanufacture by Fear Factory, and getting through some awful lyrics, the pre-chorus is actually catchy as fuck, the chorus is not too bad, then it goes back to shit.

And then there's Cathedral Spires. And I'm not sure if it's because by this point I've listened to some really woeful stuff, but I have to say that I really, really enjoy this song. It begins with a clean intro, but unlike the rest of the album, it begins with a clean intro that isn't terrible, and Tim Owens actually gets to show off what he can do with his voice. The verses aren't great, but the chorus is without a doubt the catchiest, most fun and most memorable thing about the entire album – it is huge, epic, with twin guitar melodies, clean guitar parts, and layered vocals. Cathedral Spires almost makes me stop thinking about the two pints of lager I could have bought with the £4.99 I spent on this album, though I can't help but wonder what Glenn Tipton really meant with the lyrics “Oh! We're so tired,” and “Time that we retire.”

This album sounds like a mid-life crisis. Tipton and Downing realising that the young kids don't listen to (or commit suicide) to their music any more, and trying to recapture the ears of the youth again, with mostly disastrous moments. If you're a completist who just has to have every studio album that Priest released (like me), then I'm not going to stop you from buying this album. If you want typical Priest fare you're not going to get it, but you could probably buy Cathedral Spires as an mp3 on Amazon or iTunes or something. It's not all bad, but listening to it for the few good moments there are is a bit like wading through shit trying to find peanuts. You'll probably find some, but afterwords you'll just wish that you'd bought a bag of peanuts.

Priest's whipping-boy classic! - 95%

ExMachina, February 11th, 2009

When discussing Ripper Owens' tenure in Judas Priest, the smart fans usually focus on the outright terrible releases: 'Demolition', for instance. But when broaching the subject of 'Jugulator', most Ripper detractors, I've noticed, get decidedly quiet. One could interpret this a number of ways, but I think saying simply that Priest fans who enjoyed the heaviness of 'Painkiller' and 'Defenders of the Faith' genuinely have nothing major to complain about with 1997's effort: 'Jugulator' is probably close to the mark.

Yes, there is a general lack of the classic 'Priest twin-guitar solos that we've all become accustomed to, and the album undoubtedly suffers for it, but there really is no attacking Ripper's phenomenal vocal performance, or the album's quality as a whole. In fact, after revisiting this album time and again, I've found myself missing Halford less and less. Ripper's masterful performance on the album's title track, 'Burn in Hell', 'Bullet Train', and of course the now-legendary 'Cathedral Spires' put any doubt of his abilities immediately to rest. Accusations of his 'ripping off' (no pun intended) Rob Halford don't hold water, either, as he definitely has a more forceful delivery and a more gravelly sound on the whole when compared to the metal god in question. Even filler tracks like 'Dead Meat' somehow get far better when Ripper is delivering lines like "I will not give in... Not while I'm Liviiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!"

It's more the intangibles that Judas Priest's faithful were expecting that seem to fall by the wayside on this album. That isn't a mark against 'Jugulator', though. When taken as a balls-out vicious Heavy Metal release - which is exactly what Jugulator was meant to be - it's difficult to level any genuine complaints since it is so damn solid. Judas Priest effortlessly transcend the banality of the modern Metal they have been accused of attempting to emulate on this album. The fact that so many songs are memorable alone speaks to the record's worth, with some even being declared classics, in retrospect. The music isn't quite as theatrical or overblown as past Priest albums, but now that 'Nostradamus' has been released, I would like to think that 'Priest fans have begun to understand that one can, in fact, be too theatrical.

Basically, this album is a natural progression from the sound in place on 'Painkiller', it steps in the same direction as the former - that is, a more modern one - but it also shakes off some of the best elements of classic Priest in favor of a heavier, more rhythmic sound, and darker lyrical content. Ripper's vocals ultimately save it from being too generic, and a few moments of songwriting brilliance allow it to remain a fond memory for most fans of the Metal Gods. I highly recommend it. Even the filler is worth headbanging to.

Standout tracks: Jugulator, Dead Meat, Burn in Hell, Bullet Train, Cathedral Spires

Stinkers: Abductors, Brain Dead

Priest's heaviest and most underrated. - 82%

IWP, December 2nd, 2007

Yes, I am one of the few people who actually enjoy this album. Sure, it sounds nothing like classic Priest, and the solos aren't really that great, but damn is this album heavy. Most people who reject this album, because there's no Rob Halford here. However, I actually like Tim Owens as a singer. He does a nice job on this album except when he uses those "tough guy" shouts. Sure, he's The Ripper may not be no Halford, but he's nonetheless a good singer. However, it's the drummer, Scott Travis who really shines on this album. He really shows off his talent here, and actually saves a few of the songs from being crappy. He has to be one of my favorite drummers. The closest thing I compare this album too is a mix of traditional and groove metal with thrashy moments, paticularily on the song, Death Row.

Amongest the highlights here are the title track, Blood Stained, and Death fucking Row. The first two mentioned tracks are groove metal numbers that actually have nice riffs that make my head bang. Then, there's Death Row, holy shit, this song fucking rules! It actually sounds pretty thrashy, with some nice Horrorscope-era Overkill moments. Not only that, but I love that fucking chorus. "OH NOOOO, I WON'T GOOO, YOU'LL NEVER GET ME DOWN TO DEATH ROOOW!!!!!" that right there is Owens' shiny momemt, right there. This is easily the best song on the album. Cathedral Spires is also a pretty awesome song too. It starts off like a ballad with a dark atmosphere, and then gets heavy as fuck. The only weak moment on this song is the cheesy chorus, but that's a small price to pay.

However, I will admit that there are some pretty bad moments on this album as well. I agree fully with Mr.Boris on this one that Decapitate, Brain Dead, and Abductors are the weak songs here. However, I don't really hate these songs, there just pretty boring, and bring the album down as a whole. Brain Dead is the best song out of the three, and it sounds almost like a doom metal song, just without the punch. However, the other two tracks are absoluetly mediocre. They're not nessecarily bad songs, it's just that there nothing special, and don't contribute to the album at all. The riffs are boring, and Owens sounds pretty dumb on here as well.

In conclusion, this song is certainly not bad. In fact, it's quite underrated, and is better than several of their earlier albums, paticularily Point of Entry and Ram It Down. If you can tolerate a little bit of change, and can tolerate groove metal, than you'll like this album. It's no Painkiller, but it's solid, and is certainly worthy of the title, Judas Priest. You are going to BURN IN HEEELLLLLL!!!!!!!

Fairly Horrid Modern Priest - 52%

DawnoftheShred, October 16th, 2007

So Rob Halford is gone and Judas Priest is trying to recover without him. Left with the decision to either disband or find a suitable successor, Tipton, Downing, & Co. enlist Winters Bane singer Tim (soon to be nicknamed “Ripper”) Owens to keep the band alive. But just how alive could he keep the band with their legendary vocalist off in Fight? Not very much, it seems, as Jugulator is one of the weakest albums ever conceived by such a talented ensemble.

Perhaps the only replacement singer more infamous than Blaze Bailey in Iron Maiden is Tim Owens in Judas Priest (note the irony in the similarities of both singers former bands, Wolfsbane and Winters Bane respectively). But his performance is notwithstanding in the event of a musical catastrophe, so I’ll get to him later. And the music is almost catastrophic. Gone is the speed of early Priest albums, replaced with what is basically groove metal. I hear a lot of industrial influence as well, considering the ultra modern guitar tone and the overuse of fucking sampled sounds. Does every song have to start with some kind of stupid intro? Apparently, as they all do. Regardless, most of these songs start slow and go nowhere. The handful of downtuned riffs that are recycled throughout each song are unmemorable, some even bordering on mallcore. But the double bass…you say. Fuck that, I already knew that Scott Travis was a good drummer from his performance on Painkiller; that won’t justify the lack of riffage here. Same goes for the lead guitar. I’ve heard KK and Glen shred better than this as early as Turbo. Hell, as early as Sad Wings. A few choice solos here and there don’t compensate for some poor ones, not to mention once again the lack of good riffs. One plus is that Ian Hill actually pulls his weight, circumnavigating the sludgy modern guitars with his newfound knack for playing fills, but the scales remain unbalanced in the favor of this album’s shitty aspects. Let me add that all the brief ‘clean’ riffs used for intros and ‘atmosphere’ blow. They’re all cut from the same cloth (just as the distorted riffs are, only from a different cloth of course) and merely delay the inevitable suckage of their heavier counterparts.

So now on to Owens. His delivery consists of two parts: a lower register growl that would be a bit more intimidating if the lyrics weren’t so cheesy, and his singing voice that’s capable of hitting every note that Halford could. Best comparison I can think of is John Greely from Iced Earth’s Night of the Stormrider. Unfortunately, rather than make the most of his powerful voice, Owens tends to spend too much time trying to make that unimpressive growl-singing work, to no avail. This is the primary difference between 90’s Maiden and Priest. While Maiden’s roman numeral albums were incorrigible, the presence of Rob Halford might have saved Jugulator. I can’t prove it of course, but I imagine that he’d somehow have made this a bit more listenable than it is. I sympathize with Owens for the mammoth shoes he was expected to fill, but his vocals didn’t save this album where Halford’s might have.

So any tracks worth salvaging from this wreck? Well, the title track kind of owns, primarily due to its remarkable up-tempo nature on an album mostly composed of down-tempo bullshit. Owens vocals are brand new here, so they sound far less grating than they would by the album’s end. Plus he uses plenty of those high notes that he executes so well. Then there’s a bunch of songs with cool titles they fail to live up to (“Dead Meat,” “Burn in Hell,” “Decapitate,” “Blood Stained”) until we get to “Bullet Train,” which actually has some interesting ideas both vocally and instrumentally. Closer “Cathedral Spires” is the last of the interesting songs, and fairly epic at that. But that’s really it. Three interesting tunes out of ten, not good odds for a Judas Priest album.

So Jugulator will go down in history as one of Judas Priest’s heaviest albums, but it will also go down as one of their worst ones. Part Owens and part modern influences to blame, it’s just not a pleasant listen anyway you look at it.

Absolutely, Incredibly, Fucking...Meh. - 62%

Stormrider2112, February 8th, 2005

Painkiller II this is not. Hell, Turbo II this is not. What we have here is an awesome performance from Tim Owens, with Judas Priest here in name only. The band, for some reason, decided to get "modern" and tune down from E to C#, which doesn't really sounds as good when your singer can fucking wail (the most recent Iced Earth tour showed us how good Tim can be), as well as making it sound muddy. There are also FAR too many "intros" to songs (which fails miserably). The songwriting really lacks here, as can be evidenced in Glenn's lyrical abortions (Hell Bent For Leather these are not). It's almost as if he's trying to force brutality on us, but it just sounds like Cannibal Corpse b-movie cheese (see UltraBoris's review concerning this). The good riffs are few and far between, and we know Priest can do better than this. This album lacks the "happy" and/or "positive" feel that most Priest albums have a good percentage of (One Shot At Glory, Reckless, et al), and just tries to come off as pure aggression and spite, and unlike Painkiller mauling you like Kodiak bear with its riffage and odes of glory and kicking ass, Jugulator is akin to a Chihuahua humping your leg with its faux attitude.

All that aside, we have 3 above average songs. Jugulator is cool uptempo speed, but as said earlier, the lyrics are atrocious. Bullet Train fucking slays, and Cathedral Spires is also exceptional, and was their longest song (until the 13:22 tarpuddle from Angel of Retribution known as Lochness). These 3 were worth the $4 I paid for the album, and unless you see this in the bargain bin or in a cheap used CD section, you're not missing much.

I'm Divided - 75%

corviderrant, March 15th, 2004

Let's face it, with Halford back in Priest (where he fucking belongs), the Owens years can be forgotten now by us serious old school types. Tim Owens was competent, but he was no Halford. And it's not like he does THAT badly on this abum, but y' just isn't the same.

The songs are excellent musically, with a somewhat more modern downtuned riffing style rearing its head, and Scott Travis pounding the hell out of his kit. The leads are still good as well, with Downing and Tipton still maintaining a more technical approach as they did on the classic "Painkiller", and you can even hear Ian Hill's growling, rumbling bass guitar underneath the riff onslaught, especially near the end of the title track where he lets out a great big roaring slide under the riff.

I actually rather like the title track until Owens lets out one of his weak, sub-Halford wails, which is straight away--sorry, no go! You don't do that unless you can match or beat the maestro, and he just doesn't cut it for me. "Blood Stained" has a good catchy chorus and a strong headbanging groove, followed by "Dead Meat" with its brutish midtempo crunch. But "Death Row" really gets my head banging with its syncopated riffs before the verse starts and the chorus is the best on the record. "Decapitate"--ehh, not too bad, but could be better, but I do like the witty line in the middle ("You've lost your head, sir! Well, you will tomorrow...sleep well!"). "Burn in Hell"--awww, yeah! I think this song is about "The Crow", and I love it right away for that alone. Nice intro and some of the best vocals from Owens as he actually lets his own identity show are in the intro alone. "Brain Dead" and "Abductors"...again, ehh, could have been better. "Bullet Train" redeems the album with a fast, aggressive tune filled with manic leads and Owens letting out his most unhinged scream at the end as it builds to a crashing climax. Again, another rare moment of him showing his own style instead of his Halford impersonations. And "Cathedral Spires" is a nice ending, heavy and doomy with a very cool multitracked choir ending.

If you can get past Owens' lack of identity through most of the album--he also has a lot of unwelcome Seattle influence in his clean vocals moments--this is not such a bad album, really. If you could imagine this with Halford singing and better lyrics here and there, it would own! Can't wait for the new album and tour with one of the last few remaining True Metal Gods!!!!

Half-assed comeback... - 65%

Sinner, January 6th, 2003

After years of silence Priest finally returns to the metal scene with a new album - and it turns out to be more or less a slight dissapointment...

Let's start with summing up the bad points really quickly - first of all you got the production - which is a bit too weak & dry most of the time - then there is the rather lame cover artwork (sure, that is forgettable still - after all you buy an album for the music, not the artwork..but still...) - but most importantly, there seems to be a definite lack of good songwriting on here, both musically as well as in the lyrics - songs like "Braindead", "Decapitate" etc should never have made it unto an album at all - then there is the "musical direction" - for some reason Priest decided to ditch all of the usual "Priest trademarks" (melodic leads - melodic soloing) in favour of a Pantera riff based style flavoured with Slayer-esque solo's, something which the band doesn't quite succeed at.

However, there still is quite a lot of good to be found as well - most importantly in the new frontman Tim Owens - who shows just how classy he is - not only a fitting replacement for Halford - but actually (especially these days) surpassing him when it comes to power. And of course there is the joy that finally Priest managed to get their carreer going - couple this with 2 superb songs ("Cathedral Spires" and "Bullet Train") and a handfull of decent - good ones ("Burn In Hell" & "Jugulator") and you basically have an album that, while perhaps not the best in their carreer - is still above average and a nice sign of life for this great band...

Not bad, but very inconsistent - 59%

UltraBoris, August 7th, 2002

This album is half Painkiller, and half absolute crap. Some of the songs on here are total speed metal classics, and others are unlistenable drivel.

First off, the whole vocalist situation. Is Tim Owens (I refuse to call him Ripper, if his mother didn't name him Ripper, why should I?) any good? Oh, Hell yeah, he is definitely great. He nails all sorts of unholy screams, and his singing voice is very good as well (see: "Cathedral Spires")

That said, the songs on the album album do really go into three categories: awesome speed metal, good midpaced stuff, and complete crap.

Awesome speed metal: Jugulator, Dead Meat, Death Row, Bullet Train. Priest can really do no wrong when they play fast - they're dead on right here. Sometimes the cheese factor is high - for example, the most fucked up rhyming couplet this side of Cannibal Corpse: "Jugulator, killing time now, reaches in and rips your spine out!" Ow. My spine.

Good midpaced stuff: Blood Stained, Burn in Hell, Cathedral Spires. Cathedral Spires is a really nice epic number that they should definitely bust out live. The other two are now concert staples, and rightly so - these three are pretty fun.

Complete cra: Decapitate, Brain Dead, Abductors. What the fuck?? This makes Turbo sound like fucking Priest in the East. Enough said. Priest always have some total abortions on most every album, and this is no exception - they kinda spread them around, unlike Defenders of the Faith, so the album does go through its ups and downs quite a bit.

Also, one more thing - the guitar solos suck. Tipton and Downing can do far better - but the songs are for the most part decent, so it's definitely worth getting.