Judas Priest, ‘Firepower’: 2018 Metal Album of the Year


Story and photo by Anne Erickson

Judas Priest’s “Firepower” is Audio Ink’s 2018 Metal Album of the Year

There’s no stopping the mighty Judas Priest. In 2018, the British legends returned with their 18th studio album, “Firepower,” and with it, the band brought a new catalog of metal classics for headbanging listeners to enjoy for decades to come.

“Firepower” hit No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart upon release, making it the band’s highest-charting album in the U.S. While the high chart position is nice, the reason “Firepower” is Audio Ink’s top metal album of the year has little to do with numbers. “Firepower” is being recognized because of the quality of its songs.

“Firepower,” which is the band’s first studio album since 1988’s “Ram It Down” to be produced by Tom Allom and the first record co-produced by Andy Sneap, features delicately crafted, fiery, captivating metal tunes such as “Lightning Strike,” “No Surrender” and the album’s title track. It’s classic Judas Priest, with Richie Faulkner’s towering guitar solos and Rob Halford’s operatic vocals, but with a modern shine. Instrumentally, Faulkner, guitarist Glenn Tipton, bass player Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis are top-notch, serving up thick, grand rhythms and walls of guitars. Vocally, Halford is as strong as ever, proving that as the years pass, his voice only gets better.

Emphasizing the best of classic Judas Priest while bringing the band into a new era, “Firepower” defies what we have come to expect from a metal album. It proves that one’s legacy doesn’t have to be strictly tied to the past– it can also bring new angles and styles. Coupled with the fact that Judas Priest continues to delight fans with a steady stream of live shows that are never dialed-in, Judas Priest’s “Firepower” that makes us believe in the longstanding power of metal, and for that, it’s Audio Ink’s 2018 Metal Album of the Year.