Judas Priest - Nostradamus
Sony Music
Epic Orchestrated Heavy Metal
Disc 1: 13 songs (56'03) Disc 2: 10 songs (46'44)
Release year: 2008
Judas Priest, Sony Music
Reviewed by Marty
Major event
This new and massive piece of work by Judas Priest has been in the works for over 2 years now. Intrigued by the 16th century apothecary and seer, best known for his book Les Propheties published in 1555, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Rob Halford totally immersed themselves into the history and the writings of Nostradamus in order to better understand the man and his predictions for the future of mankind. The result is a truly unique album that sees Judas Priest producing something entirely different than they have ever done before. Epic, expansive, orchestrated, dark and passionate best describe Nostradamus and it really has Priest fans divided as to whether this massive undertaking has actually been worthwhile or not in the career of one of the most influential and popular heavy metal bands ever.

Through the course of 14 main tracks as well as 9 short bridging pieces, Judas Priest take us on a 100 minute journey through the life of Nostradamus that not only includes his famous book of prophecies but also his living in fear of being persecuted for heresy as well coming to grips with the doomed fate that he sees for mankind. Right from the start, early reports from the band members indicated that this was going to be a very different album and they were certainly right about that! Keyboard as well as real stringed orchestrations are used throughout this album to add an ominous tone and atmospheric qualities with the overall "metal" machine that is Judas Priest definitely geared down a notch or two. Many of these tracks were first written on piano and then transposed to guitar, giving the whole album more of a theatrical feel than ever before. Many of the bridging tracks use piano and acoustic guitar (both not heard on a Priest album for decades) to accompany Rob Halford's voice.

After the orchestrated intro Dawn Of Creation, Prophecy begins with a slow, plodding, heavy feel with sprinkles of orchestration all brought together by excellent vocal melodies and some superb harmony lead guitar work by Glenn and K.K. Awakening/Revelations is a faster paced orchestrated piece that features solid lead guitar trade-offs between Glenn and K.K. with Rob's vocals taking on soaring and emotional qualities. The Four Horsemen/War uses an epic, heavy and orchestrated type of arrangement with "tribal" concert band percussion with Sands Of Time/Pestilence and Plague developing into a galloping and heavier Stained Class era type of track. Queen-like guitar orchestrations highlight this track with Rob singing some of the chorus section in Italian. Death hauls out the Black Sabbath influences with it's ominous, trudging and heavy sound. Overall the track has a Touch Of Evil/Monsters Of Rock feel with some speedier riffing for the lead breaks. Mid tempo and heavy arrangements for Peace/Conquest leads into the haunting ballad Lost Love. With just piano, orchestration and Rob Halford's voice, this highly emotional ballad might work somewhere else but not here. Persecution reprises the melodies in the opening theme Dawn Of Creation before getting fierce, fast and heavy. This one has the classic Priest atmosphere and energy. The second disc begins with Solitude/Exiled which builds in intensity to a hugely emotional chorus that shows Rob still has amazing control over his vocal vibrato. Alone is another big power ballad and with the orchestration and the soaring emotional choruses, this one's a real album highlight. Shadows In The Flame/Visions builds into a Blood Red Skies pace and feel with Hope/New Beginnings being yet another, yet less effective, power ballad. Those waiting with baited breath for the real Judas Priest to arrive will finally get what they want with Calm Before The Storm/Nostradamus bringing a flurry of double bass fuelled riffing. The album finishes with Future Of Mankind, a slow and heavy yet building and emotional track that brings everything about Nostradamus' life and prophecies into perspective.

Except for a couple of missteps, this whole project/concept album actually works very well within the musical context presented here. The song writing has been taken to a new level with the trio of Tipton, Halford and Downing showing an amazing sense of both drama and melody in the musical compositions that make up the story. Greater emphasis has been placed on capturing just the right mood, including vastly different arrangements than would normally be found on a Judas Priest album. Rob Halford has totally immersed himself into the story and delivers some of his strongest and most passionate vocals in years (no going through the motions here). The atmosphere that is created is dark, mysterious and almost perfect for the story of Nostradamus. The use of piano, acoustic guitar and more lush, laid back arrangements may put off some listeners but remember, earlier albums like Sad Wings Of Destiny and Sin After Sin used arrangements like that as Priest was more of a heavy progressive band rather than a metal band at that point. This is a one of a kind album and the band has very emphatically stated that. It was an opportunity to do something that they have never done and always wanted to do. It is not a sign of things to come as I'm sure that they will return to form and rip us with another blistering metal album in the coming years. Enjoy this for what it is; a solid concept album that is done very, very well. Try to forget that it is a Judas Priest album if that's the only thing that's preventing you from enjoying this......

Killing Songs :
Prophecy, War, Pestilence and Plague, Death, Persecution, Exiled, Alone and Nostradamus
Marty quoted 84 / 100
Alex quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Judas Priest that we have reviewed:
Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls reviewed by Thomas and quoted 70 / 100
Judas Priest - Killing Machine / Hell Bent for Leather reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Judas Priest - Screaming For Vengeance reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Judas Priest - Stained Class reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Judas Priest - Sin After Sin reviewed by Phil and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 20 reviews click here
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