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by Martin Popoff
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Fresh Metal

Judas Priest – Demolition
(Atlantic)

Odd man out, I initially gave Van Halen – 3, a 7 rating. Now, after the good and bad shock has worn off, I've notched that back to a 5, still, probably considered too high by most fans. I've lived with Demolition long enough to have had that same cycle take course. All the bad moves on here dot the map between brave and stupid. Stupid would include the smothering, stiff, dated '80s production style which snuffs the life out of the album. Stupid would also include all this buzzing guitar synth or synth guitar or unwisely chosen effect (whatever: it sounds like Turbo) through many tracks. It sounds like a blown woofer. Stupid would also include all these unremarkable sticky, humid down-tuned riffs reminiscent of Priest…Live!'s peanut butter front cover. But worst would be Tipton's awful lyrics. Ripper is a great voice and front man, but my hope for him was that he would have brought some words to camp. He's the singer. Singers often write lyrics. Some singers won't sing lyrics they didn't write because they have to believe in them. Not our Ripper. Two records in and he's still saying nothing, not piping up, I guess, still, gosh, just happy to be there. But I fear Ripper's wisdoms wouldn't add up to much anyway, as if we'll ever know. The brave bits would also include all that synth guitar. It's different, unexpected, bucking the temptation to remake Resurrection, a safe record, yet satisfyingly so. Brave, or really more so just cool, includes the various new vocal personas we hear from Ripper, although the effect is neutralized by the tough guy metal crap he's forced to sing. Brave also includes this record's best songs, acoustic ballad 'Lost And Found', dark power ballad 'Close To You', and even darker, actorly doom ballad 'In Between'. The heavies comprise a barren wasteland of multiple clichés. Lead single and lead track, on a Judas Priest album, on a Judas Priest album four years in the making, is about racing motorcycles. Ripper and I both thought a "650 Bonneville" was a car. It doesn't matter that I didn't know, but it should bother you that Ripper didn't. A song about Jeckyl & Hyde is never a good idea, even if (barely) acceptable in the context of Iced Earth's Horror Show. 'Metal Messiah', well, this is apparently an example of the "sense of humour" on the album. The verse is rap metal, but, like, the chorus is so cool, I can almost forgive it. And besides, it does sound like a bit of a lark, a parody of rap metal. As well, this track has ambition production and arrangements, whereas much of the rest... you may as well bring Dave Holland back, or a computer, because these beats have had the life processed out of them. Very best track however, to my mind, IS a heavy one, and that would be 'Feed On Me', where Ripper sounds like Ronnie James Dio (yet another voice). It actually delivers the melody Ripper has said is the chief change with this album over Jugulator. Cool vocal melody, passionate chorus, nice synth guitar – yes, nice. So there you have it. Tipton is clueless, but he is also refreshingly contrary, excelling as a ballad writer, lost in what you would think is his domain, but occasionally, randomly, coming up with a gem.
Rating 5

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