Saturday 2 October 2021

Album Review: KK's PRIEST - Sermons of the Sinner


01. Incarnation
02. Hellfire Thunderbolt
03. Sermons Of The Sinner
04. Sacerdote Y Diablo
05. Raise Your Fists
06. Brothers Of The Road
07. Metal Through And Through
08. Wild And Free
09. Hail For The Priest
10. Return Of The Sentinel

As you may know, alongside Kiss, Judas Priest is my favourite band (Click here to read how I ranked each album!). Obviously, when ex-guitarist KK Downing announced that he's putting together a band with two ex-Judas Priest members, vocalist Tim 'Ripper' Owens and drummer Les Binks, I was immediately excited. Apparently, due to a wrist injury, Les had to bow out of the project, which is a shame.

I understand the drama around the name of the band. In fairness, KK is 69 years old. He's not going to launch a brand new brand/band name at this stage of his career. Besides, why can't he capitalise from the Priest legacy? He's a founder member, a writer, and will always be a massive part of Judas Priest. Yes, he retired in 2011, but clearly wants to re-join and the others, for whatever reason, aren't entertaining that. What's more frustrating is that there's a vacancy in Judas Priest anyway, with Andy Sneap currently standing in. Like KK, the guys in Judas Priest, bar Ritchie, are no spring chickens with all of them being nearly 70 or older. There's no time to fuck around as they won't be able to do what they do at such a high standard for many more years. If KK has more Judas Priest music inside of him that he wants to share with the world while he still can, it's only right that he should get it out there, with or without the others. 

Before we delve into the record, It's clear that there are plenty of Judas Priest 'call-backs' in the song titles, nodding towards classics like Sinner and The Sentinel. This certainly sets up the album as something made specifically for Judas Priest fans, and not something I'd expect to venture into other genres or styles. KK has been criticised online quite a bit for this, but in fairness, didn't Rob do exactly the same thing on his 'Halford' albums? He even had a song called Sad Wings Of Destiny! Judas Priest is as much KK's baby as it is Rob's, Glenn's or Ian's, and as far as I'm concerned, her can do what he likes.

I remember hearing the first single, Hellfire Thunderbolt, and enjoying it, despite feeling that it was a little generic. The main riff sounds suspiciously like the riff from Nostradamus. It's basically a Painkiller-meets-Jugulator, but not as good as either, standard Power Metal romp that ticks all of the boxes, but seems to be missing that X-factor required to make it a standout-classic. Don't get me wrong, it's still a banger!

The overall sound and production of Sermons Of The Sinner is way better than Jugulator and Demolition, which is something I'm particularly happy about, as I feel that the two Ripper-fronted Priest albums really suffered in that department and were a major factor in why they weren't as successful as they perhaps should have been.

The real Achilles' heel of this album is in the lyrics. Some of these songs suffer from cringey, cheesy lyrics that a more than a little embarrassing and do the music a great disservice. I'm particularly looking at Raise Your Fists, Brothers Of The Road, and Wild And Free. 'We're Brothers Of The Road and we Rock! Rock'. For fuck's sake. Admittedly, the 80's Priest stuff was a bit ridiculous lyrically, but Rob Halford's material was oozing with character and creativity, and his wicked sense of humour was often present. It's a massive difference, and these KK lyrics are just clichéd, take themselves a little too seriously, and at times are a bit crap. 

Having said that, the lyrics that are a bit more personal work well. Sermons Of The Sinner is a great high-speed Metal song that breaks down into a gorgeous piece that's clearly a metaphor for KK's reflection of his life as a member of Judas Priest. The video hammers this home too. 

Other songs that I loved include Sacerdote Y Diablo and Hail For The Priest, which are both excellent and aren't a million miles away for the Painkiller style.

My overall favourite has to be the epic closer and sequel to the Judas Priest classic, The Sentinel, Return Of The Sentinel. It's an epic masterpiece. it ends with a beautiful acoustic part, and one cannot help but wonder if the lyrics are a euphemism for KK's battle with his former band-mates and his feelings of rejection. Either way, it's majestic and emotive, and the perfect way to end the record.



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