Glenn Tipton - Baptizm of Fire (Remastered & Expanded)
Heavy Metal
13 songs (62:03)
Release year: 2006
Reviewed by Mike

Originally released back in 1997, Judas Priest axeman's (and primary songwriter) first solo album is being reissued. This reissue contains two new tracks, and has also been remastered. Glenn recruited a small army of well known metal musicians to lend a hand to this album, allowing him to distance himself from the band mindset. Most notably, Robert Trujillo, Shannon Larkin, Billy Sheehan, Cozy Powell, and John Entwistle make appearances on this album. Glenn handles all guitar work and lead vocals on this album.

If your expecting a Judas Priest clone with this album, you'll be disappointed. There are some similarities, which are to be expected. However, I would liken Baptizm of Fire to Priest's distant cousin, as opposed to an identical twin brother. The only true connection to Judas Priest would be the guitar work. The songs on this album are built around heavy, chugging riffs and pounding drum work. Of course, there are some meaty solos to be heard throughout the album as well. Glenn never reaches a Painkiller level of full throttle metal, but instead stays in the mid tempo metal range. Despite this CD being remastered, the raw and loud qualities of the guitar work are preserved. I really think that polishing up the guitar work with "slick" production would have tampered with the mood that Glenn intended for this album; and so I am quite happy with the remastering of this album. The sound quality is a bit more clear and bold than the original, but the integrity of the songs and the mood of the album remain untainted.

Unfortunately, Glenn isn't nearly as good of a vocalist as he is a guitarist. I think a lot of fans out there will find Glenn's vocals difficult to embrace, particularly the ones who live and die for the wailing style of Rob Halford or Tim Owens. Glenn has very little range, and honestly, is a barely adequate at best vocalist. His voice is unique, although he vaguely resembles a gruffy Kai Hansen, but with less range and a less melodic delivery. It does sound like he struggles to stay on key at times, but those moments aren't flagrant enough to make ears cringe. Obviously mindful of the current state of metal in the mid to late 90's, Glenn does incorporate some modern techniques into his vocal repertoire. Some aggressive grunts/shouted vocals make their way into some of the songs. This actually doesn't go against the grain of the music, as this is very much a 90's metal album. However, there are several instances where I feel that Glenn is trying to do too much with his voice, instead of just singing. Like I said though, I would consider Glenn's vocals adequate on this album, but definitely no more than that. I do think this album could have been a lot better with a top notch singer.

Despite the talent involved on this album, few songs really comes together in that magical way to be considered a "killer" in the true sense of the word for me. When looking over the names of the musicians involved with this CD, I really would have expected more memorable tunes. Still, none of the songs is bad. There are a few stand out tracks, but I wouldn't call most of the songs more than just "fair to good." The opening track, Hard Core actually sounds like a foreshadowing of things to come down the road. At the time of its release, this track could have been interpreted as a modernized deviation from Judas Priest. I think it sounds prophetically similar to Revolution from Judas Priest's Angel of Retribution album. Having said that, it's no surprise to me that Judas Priest took a sharp turn in musical terms with their Jugulator and Demolition albums. Glenn used a lot of his new found modern metal influences in the writing process of both those albums. Things in the Priest camp got back to a more conventional sound with Angel of Retribution, but I do think Revolution harkens back to the feel of Hard Core from this album. Himalaya is bonus track on this remastered album, and is the other track that I find most comparable to any Judas Priest material. Clocking in at nearly eight minutes, this song has an epic, and surprisingly doomy feel to it. I can't help but think of Loch Ness from Angel of Retribution when this song plays. As with Revolution, I think the roots of Loch Ness can be traced back to this song from Glenn's solo work. But I digress. Paint It Black is of course Glenn's metallized interpretation of the well known Rolling Stones classic. Although this song has been covered numerous times, Glenn does a very fine job metallizing it with some mean guitar work. This is one of the few spots of the album where Glenn's vocals seem to flow just naturally with the song. Enter the Storm has a moody on ominous vibe to it, with the drum work of Shannon Larkin stealing the show. His selective double bass and intricacy throughout this song is simply masterful. Furthermore, Glenn adds one of my favorite solos of the album on this track. The title track is an instrumental, but I find it to be one of the better musical outputs of the album. Glenn goes unleashes a full out metal assault with his guitar. This is the only spot of the album where any Painkiller type of comparisons are valid. With roaring drum work backing him up, this instrumental sounds like a very raw Judas Priest sound at their heaviest. With the lack of vocals on this track, Glenn lets the fury of his guitar do the singing, and it works quite well. Voodoo Brother is one of the more catchy songs of the album, but Glenn's persistent shredding throughout this song steals the spotlight. The alternation between screaming shredfest and restrained, groove laden portions also helps to make this a standout track of the album. Both bonus tracks are actually strong tracks, as opposed to meaningless "throw ins." As I mentioned previously, Himalaya is an epic, almost doomy track that features some of the more interesting songwriting of the album. The guitars are slow, but very heavy and deliberate. Some keys are well placed to add atmosphere to the song. New Breed leans more toward heavy rock as opposed to metal, but the riffing and chorus lines are instantly recognizable, and the soloing and drumming emanate pure energy.

That's about if for songs that really stick with me after listening to this album. As I said, there aren't any bad tracks or filler on this album per se, but for me, the handful of standouts listed above are flanked by what I would call slightly above average to just "good" songs, no more. When this album came out, and again now, I find that quite underwhelming considering the talent involved on this album. There really should be more killer tunes here. With all due respect the virtuoso guitarist that he is, Glenn's vocal work does significantly dampen my enjoyment of this album. He does well enough to get by, but that's about it. I really think these songs would have been a lot better with different vocals. Still, I wouldn't hesitate to say that this album deserves to be in any Judas Priest collection. As would have to be expected, it doesn't match the quality of Glenn's full time band, but this is at the very least an interesting, albeit unspectacular piece of the Judas Priest puzzle.

Killing Songs :
Paint It Black, Enter The Storm, Voodoo Brother, Himalaya
Mike quoted 65 / 100
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