There are few heavy metal bands that have managed to scale the heights that Judas Priest has during their 30+ year career. And the group refuses to rest on their laurels, as they continue to break new ground within the realm of metal, as evidenced by their sprawling 2008 epic, ‘Nostradamus.’ A double disc studio album, the set also serves as a concept album, which focuses in on the life and predictions of Nostradamus, who allegedly predicted such future events as the great fire of London in 1666, the rise of Adolf Hitler, and most recently, 9-11.
“The 'Nostradamus' album - above all others - is perhaps the one I'm most proud of,” says guitarist Glenn Tipton. “Whilst in essence and character still very much Judas Priest, it has afforded the opportunity to explore areas of classical and operatic dimensions that the band normally wouldn't. As a guitarist and writer it has inspired me to greater heights and opened new doors to intrigue and passion. From start to finish it will take you through a magical experience filled with light, shade, drama, melody and emotion, that reflects this unique man and his life. Why did we choose Nostradamus? We didn't - he chose us. We feel it was meant to be!”
“For me, ‘Nostradamus’ has been a musical journey without comparison,” adds guitarist K.K. Downing. “The intrigue and mystery that surrounds this revered man has expanded my perception of heavy metal to the highest plateau and enabled me to reach the outer limits of my imagination and transport unique feelings and emotions to the instrument that allows me to express myself.”
Judas Priest originally formed in the early ‘70s in Birmingham, England (an area that many feel birthed heavy metal). By 1974, longtime Priest members K.K. and Ian Hill (bass) welcomed singer Rob Halford into the fold, who was soon followed by the arrival of Glenn Tipton. It would be this nucleus of musicians (along with several different drummers over the years) that would soon go on to change the face of heavy metal.
After a ‘feeling out’ period of a couple of albums – 1974’s ‘Rock Rolla’ and 1976’s ‘Sad Wings of Destiny’ – the Rob-Glenn-K.K.-Ian line-up truly hit their stride. The result was a quartet of albums that separated Priest from the rest of the hard rock pack – 1977’s ‘Sin After Sin,’ 1978’s ‘Stained Class,’ 1978’s ‘Hell Bent for Leather,’ and 1979’s ‘Unleashed in the East,’ which spawned such metal anthems as “Sinner,” “Diamonds and Rust,” “Hell Bent for Leather,” and “The Green Manalishi.” Also, Priest is often credited with being one of the first metal bands to exclusively wear leather and studs – a look that began during this era, and would eventually be embraced by metalheads throughout the world.
It could be said that Priest simply owned the ‘80s, as they were second to none as far as pure metal goes – releasing such all-time classic albums as 1980’s ‘British Steel,’ 1981’s ‘Point of Entry,’ 1982’s ‘Screaming for Vengeance,’ and 1984’s ‘Defenders of the Faith.’ Once more, these titles spawned countless enduring metal anthems, including “Breaking the Law,” “Livin’ After Midnight,” “Heading Out to the Highway,” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’.” The ‘80s were also a decade where Priest became a global arena headliner, and also offered show-stopping sets at some of the world’s biggest festivals, including the first-ever ‘Monsters of Rock’ festival at Donington Park (1980), the US Festival (1983), and Live Aid (1985).
The remainder of the ‘80s saw Priest embrace more melodic hard rock sounds on 1986’s ‘Turbo’ and 1988’s ‘Ram it Down’ (in addition to their second live set, 1987’s ‘Priest Live!’), before releasing arguably the heaviest release of their entire career, 1990’s ‘Painkiller’ (which saw the arrival of drummer Scott Travis). Rob Halford left the band for several years, but by 2004, the metal masses’ prayers were answered, as the classic Priest line-up was reunited once more, and were special guests of Black Sabbath on Ozzfest, before issuing ‘Angel of Retribution’ a year later. Which brings us to ‘Nostradamus.’ Long in the planning stage, the album includes all the best and renowned Priest elements, while also managing to push forward with its grand scope.
“As in any concept piece, the lifeline needs to be of a solid source, taking the music over many levels of interest and perception,” explains Halford. ‘Nostradamus’ contains new frontiers explored and defined. The sense of adventure and the journey we undertook bringing the man’s life alive with metal was a real labor of love.”
“Musically, this epoch touches many of the sounds and tradition that Priest has been proud to display throughout our decades. Over two years in the making, ‘Nostradamus’ is set to be unleashed to all our fans around the world.” And while the group will be playing excerpts from their latest masterpiece on tour in 2008, Priest are planning on playing the album in its entirety (as part of a ‘spectacular audio-visual show’) at selected venues in 2009.
Judas Priest’s legion of fans worldwide are undoubtedly counting down the seconds until these Metal Gods return to a nearby venue. But the band members themselves are just as eager to unveil their latest triumph on stage. “As ever, we look forward to screaming out with our metal maniac fans when we hit the road,” enthuses Halford. “Thank you once again for your devotion and support. The Priest is back!”