JUDAS PRIEST’s Heavy Duty: Clash of the Metal Gods

An attempt to navigate their recent turbulence while flying the flag for Glenn Tipton

“There’s good and bad news about TWISTED SISTER”, said Dee Snider prior to their retirement, “we look like aging drag queens, but we’ve always looked like that”.
To everyone’s dismay, the golden years of glamorous metal titans from the other side of the pond, JUDAS PRIEST, could currently benefit from such tedium.

Judas Priest

What should be a whole separate article, this drama is underscored by the somber fact of Glenn Tipton’s progressively deteriorating condition.
It would appear he’s been living with Parkinson’s for at least ten years, while carrying on his heavy duties like a hero. In his candid soft-spoken manner, Glenn crushed us with: “Guys, my brain is telling my hands to do something and they’re not doing it”, while demonstrating genuinely upbeat humour – a relief for those who love him and inspiration to others. (Full interview at Guitar World)

Judas Priest

Judas Priest, London, Hammersmith Apollo, 26 May 2012; Photo by Diana Chavdarova

Judas Priest

Judas Priest, Utrecht, TivoliVredenburg, 14 June 2015; Photo by Diana Chavdarova

Considering Glenn Tipton the anchor of JUDAS PRIEST, I’ve stumbled across opinions that “Glenn is extremely underrated in rock’n’roll, metal, and music entirely”, which cannot be more puzzling.
Rooted in blues, his clarity of phrase exudes almost fragile vividness, and culminates in the immersive ecstasy of this string-caressing sensuous master. He combines traditional blues modes and classical ones with the blend of precision and unrelenting expressiveness that came to characterise the band. In later years his tone eased out, while assuming a deeper, more demure form.
It must also be noted that Glenn has always interacted with the audience as naturally as the heavyweights of blues, yet so intensely, his gaze seemed intent on stopping our heart.
“This isn’t just JUDAS PRIEST”, he said, “It’s an event in which we’re together, and nothing in the world can compare.”

An immediate answer might be that the ferocity of KK Downing, his tonal sharpness and apt improvisation, merged with Halford’s insane crescendos, epitomised Metal to the PRIEST fan.

Equally understandable was KK Downing’s astonishment, conveyed in late February, that he wasn’t considered Glenn’s replacement for the upcoming tour.
As a consequence, this eloquent gentleman and founding member had to suffer what seem ill-accusations and attempts to diminish his legacy.
During a radio interview, Rob Halford all but erupted, deeming KK’s emotive publication “superfluous” and “insinuative”.
If anything became clear to the audience, it was how deep tension ran between Halford and Downing, whatever the reason. KK followed up with a brief clarification, dispersing a possibility of being misinterpreted.

It should be allowed that KK Downing could have approached the band privately. The band has been in denial, however, for ignoring the obvious option of Downing assuming his original role, in lieu of Tipton. Fans needn’t be made aware of PRIEST’s dealings, but they ought to have been considered while making such a crucial decision.

Members of the band proceeded to release statement upon statement of how surprised they were that KK would fathom the possibility of his return, culminating in: “We lacked energy towards the end of KK’s era” – precisely why KK said he left.

We have Downing’s autobiography coming up in September:

Judas Priest's Heavy Duty

“As the band approaches its golden anniversary, fans will at last be able to delve backstage into the decades of shocking, hilarious, and haunting stories that surround the heavy metal institution. In ‘Heavy Duty’, guitarist KK Downing discusses the complex personality conflicts, the business screw-ups, the acrimonious relationship with fellow Heavy Metal band IRON MAIDEN, as well as how JUDAS PRIEST found itself at the epicenter of a storm of parental outrage that targeted heavy metal in the ’80s. He also describes his role in cementing the band’s trademark black leather and studs image that would not only become synonymous with the entire genre, but would also give singer Rob Halford a viable outlet by which to express his sexuality. Lastly, he recounts the life-changing moment when he looked at his bandmates on stage during a 2010 concert and thought, ‘This is the last show.’ Whatever the topic, whoever’s involved, K.K. doesn’t hold back.” (Pre-order link)

The argument that KK had quit, and his return was unthinkable, does not hold water not only due to the drastic change of circumstances following Tipton’s withdrawal, but because a similar situation had occurred before:

Halford in 1998:
“I would never do it” (referring to a PRIEST reunion), “I’m not just saying that now and five years from now I’m gonna be on stage with PRIEST again. I value my personal creativity and my integrity more than a few dollars in the bank. It’s never the same the second time around, especially when there’s something more attached to it than the music. Reunions smack of big dollars, instead of people feeling that they want to go out and play music together.” (Read full interview)

Halford sounds slightly more unwavering there, than Downing more recently:
“I think today I’m a better player than I was yesterday or five years ago when I left the band, because I’ve had a chance to relax a little bit and take in and absorb stuff that I’ve learned and practiced, as opposed to learning something and zipping off somewhere and having to do this, that and the other.” (Full interview)

KK’s move seems logical in light of Glenn’s illness, of which he must have been somewhat aware: “I wasn’t happy with the band’s live performance. I thought it could have been better, not that the fans would notice. To me, Priest was always a stealth machine and that’s what I liked about it.”

The new PRIEST record, Firepower, is accepted shockingly well, with superlatives like “better than Painkiller” or “as good as Defenders”. To me it’s unfortunate evidence – JUDAS PRIEST have arrived at the house of IRON MAIDEN, with perhaps MANOWAR, ACCEPT and some METALLICA, roofed by solo HALFORD, and sprayed with SABBATH, PURPLE, and more 70s and 80s gloss. It spells safe and archaic, and leaves me wondering whether I’d have enjoyed it in 86.
There’s “everything” in this record, which explains its wide appeal. It’s almost a contemporary pop-formula: remotely catchy tunes one cannot quite put their finger on, alas nothing original or infectious. The tune Flamethrower at least is sexy, with a twist reminiscent of the successful HALFORD solo efforts.
Here again, I tend to advocate KK Downing for leaving after the magnificent Nostradamus.

Judas Priest - Firepower

Judas Priest – Firepower

A reason for the accolades of Firepower might have been given in that same 1998 Halford interview, strikingly relevant today:

“What’s going on with this whole “Metal Nostalgia” movement right now? RATT [mid-’80s Glam Metal band] and TWISTED SISTER are touring again, the KISS reunion, the VAN HALEN debacle; JUDAS PRIEST has a new disc out…

Rob Halford of TWO:
It’s a human necessity; it’s affection. You establish yourself as something that you look back on as you move forward. You think of a moment in your life when you felt right and you identify with that moment. You want to keep that moment living inside you emotionally. And the best way to do that is to have the thing happening in front of you on a stage or on a record.”

The recent PRIEST tour is going well, with HALFORD having been rejuvenating almost as much as Glenn had been declining in the past ten years (said with affection and sadness). When I saw PRIEST in 2008, I thought that was the end of them with Rob’s less than stellar form; today, his melody is overflowing, having attained the solidity and scope he perhaps always sought. He reportedly sees no reason why PRIEST should retire anytime soon.

Halford is an icon and vocal phenomenon who should by no means leave the spotlight; it’s difficult however to swallow PRIEST without the duel of Tipton’s and Downing’s complementing each other axes, let alone neither of them being present.

Throughout the years, Halford has expressed desire for artistic freedom, ranging from a dance record to black metal, and, most recently, a collaboration with Toni Iommi – which should work out splendidly, judging by how Halford fronted SABBATH. Doom, the blues of metal, might suit him fine in his maturity.
Should he fly on the flag of PRIEST, however, reconciling with Downing is necessary.
It’s that unrelenting zest of KK Downing that PRIEST needs now to sharpen their blade, with Rob still on form.

After all, this is the band who molded “Heavy Metal”, and who epitomise and symbolise the genre – as concurred by the musician perhaps most influenced by BLACK SABBATH, Tom G “Warrior”:

“JUDAS PRIEST – Stained Class
An album that shaped my understanding of Heavy Metal – I actually purchased it when it came out. I had seen pictures of JUDAS PRIEST, but I hadn’t actually heard any music. I’d read they were a fantastic band but I didn’t really know what I was in for. Then I put on Stained Class and what I heard was a completely unknown brand of surgically precise modern metal – there was no other band that had this absolute metal style. That was really the invention of metal, even though of course BLACK SABBATH were before, but PRIEST really reinvented themselves with Stained Class, and they also reinvented the entire genre of Heavy Rock – this album was a true revelation. I remember very distinctly when I listened to it in 1978 I actually had to get used to it first. It was almost too modern for me at that age. As fantastic as the early albums are as well, on Stained Class they had this inexplicable groove – they had a really distinctive style of writing songs, and they were so precise.”

Here’s the allure of JUDAS PRIEST: beyond the gleaming surface of being surgically sharp, there’s the underscore:

“We don’t play it clean”.

There’s the insatiability of rock, amplified. The grit, the hint of grotesque, the encompassing lust… the vow of being alive. PRIEST are the trailblazing abstract expressionists of Metal, except that music can never be abstract. As the lines of Rothko go in the play “Red” by John Logan:

“HOW ARE YOU?!… HOW WAS YOUR DAY?!… HOW ARE YOU FEELING? Conflicted. Nuanced. Troubled. Diseased. Doomed. I am not fine. We are not fine. We are anything but fine… Look at these pictures. Look at them! You see the dark rectangle, like a doorway, an aperture, yes but it’s also a gaping mouth letting out a silent howl of something feral and foul and primal and REAL. Not nice. Not fine. Real. A moan of rapture. Something divine or damned. Something immortal, not comic books or soup cans, something beyond me and beyond now. And whatever it is, it’s not pretty and it’s not fine… I AM HERE TO STOP YOUR HEART‬!”

We’ll see JUDAS PRIEST on European soil this summer, following their US tour.
We place our hopes in yet another meeting with Glenn, to whom we extend our fervent well-wishes.

Diana Chavdarova

Judas Priest

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PUTERAEON: new album and video

Swedish Death Metal band PUTERAEON will release their new album, named “The Dunwich Damnation”, on April 16, 2018 and revealed a video to the song “The Living Inferno”.

The abominable Cult frequently named PUTERAEON, was spawned in the year of the plague 2007. Since then this disease has given unholy birth to a number of ghastly demos, albums, splits etc.

The band hails from the deserted worn down town of Alingsås in the haunted outskirts of Gothenburg. Many are the tales of this god forsaken region and it’s halfbreed of inhabitants. In this darkness something festers at night and the battering of drums combined with chainsaw can be heard across the deserted plains. Stay too long and it will get to you. Engulfed in shadows, PUTERAEON stir the old cauldrons of death blending the darkness of Master H.P. Lovecraft into the deadly stew. Touch the darkness and taste its splendour.

Puteraeon

Puteraeon

PUTERAEON are:

Jonas Lindblood – Vocals/Guitar
Anders Malmström – Drums
Daniel Vandija – Bass
Rune Foss – Guitar/Backup vocals

Puteraeon - The Dunwich Damnation

Puteraeon – The Dunwich Damnation

Fans from 13 countries arrive at the Varna Mega Rock Festival this August

After placing Kavarna on the world rock map, the Metal Mayor is about to do the same for the city of Varna. The new Varna Mega Rock Festival, organized by Tsonko Tsonev with the support of Varna Municipality, provokes considerable interest abroad.

OFor a month and a half since ticket sales started, fans from Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Malta, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom have already booked their tickets to Varna Mega Rock and will join Bulgarian rock fans at the festival. 36% of tickets sold through eTicketsMall have so far been bought by fans who will travel to Bulgaria especially for Varna Mega Rock.

Varna Mega Rock 2018

The festival will be held on 18 and 19 August at Port of Varna. The stage will be raised right next to the sea and the view will be stunning! The bands that we will see at the festival are:

August 18: Glenn Hughes with B.T.R., KAMELOT, KIKIMORA and KROSSFIRE
August 19: NIGHTWISH, APOCALYPTICA, KONKURENT and BENDIDA

Tsonko Tsonev said that the space at Port of Varna is limited, so it is highly recommended that fans book their tickets on time if they don’t want to risk missing this festival.

Buy ticket for Nightwish on Varna Mega Rock 2018

BULGARRITORY with debut album in April

“Sound” is the first album of BULGARRITORY, the second new band of Stoian Kaev. The date of issue is not specified but will be in April. The edition includes 14 songs and has a special theme, some of the songs are dedicated to Roman emperors and generals.

Bulgarritory - Sound

Bulgarritory – Sound

Metalmania Festival 2018 – signing sessions!

It will be one of the most important musical events of 2018, a real treat for metal maniacs! One day, two stages, several bands from all around the world and thousands of fans! Metalmania Festival returns to Spodek Hall in Katowice, Poland on April, 7th!

Apart from seeing your favourite bands performing on the stage, you will also have a chance to stand face-to-face with them during special signing sessions. The bands will be more than happy to sign your CDs, shirts, body parts etc.

Metalmania Festival 2018 – time schedule of signing sessions:

14.00 – WOLF SPIDER
14.30 – INSAMMER
15.00 – KAT
15.30 – DESTROYER 666
16.00 – EMPEROR
16.30 – Q&A session with Krzysztof “Prosiak” Owedyk
17.00 – XENTRIX
17.30 – SKYCLAD
18.00 – NAPALM DEATH
18.30 – MEKONG DELTA
19.00 – ASPHYX
19.30 – DEAD CONGREGATION

Metalmania 2018

Metalmania 2018

7.04.2018

Katowice – Spodek

Main Stage:
EMPEROR, NAPALM DEATH, ASPHYX, DESTROYER 666, KAT&ROMAN KOSTRZEWSKI, MEKONG DELTA, DEAD CONGREGATION, SKYCLAD, XENTRIX, INSAMMER, WOLF SPIDER, BLAZE OF PERDITION

Second Stage:
ANIMA DAMNATA, RAGEHAMMER, VOIDHANGER, VISCERA///, ALASTOR, TERRORDOME, KULT MOGIŁ, INVERTED MIND, SHODAN, MINETAUR, ROADHOG, KETHA

Special guests:
Christophe SzpajdelLord Of The Logos
Krzysztof “Prosiak” Owedyk

TICKET PRICES (PRE-SALE):
✔ FAN – 666 PLN
✔ VIP – 355 PLN
✔ Red seats H, J – 260 PLN
✔ Red seats & blue seats (rows I-X) – 220 PLN
✔ Blue seats (rows XI and up) – 180 PLN
✔ Standing floor – 190 PLN

Tickets available from:
http://shop.metalmind.com.pl (collectors edition)
www.eventim.pl
www.ebilet.pl
www.biletin.pl
www.ticketportal.pl

KAMELOT join to Varna Mega Rock Festival

US Power Metal band KAMELOT also comes at Varna Mega Rock Festival that will take place on 18 and 19 August 2018 at Port Varna in Varna, Bulgaria. Thomas Youngblood and the other musicians will appear on stage just before Glenn Hughes on the first festival day.

Other artists on the poster are Glenn HughesNIGHTWISH and APOCALYPTICA. The local bands in the festival line-up are BTR, KROSSFIRE, KIKIMORA, BENDIDA and KONKURENT.

Kamelot

Kamelot

Tickets for both festival days are available worldwide at eTicketsMall,  they will cost BGN 90 until July 18th and a month before the festival their price will be BGN 120. Tsonko Tsonev said that the space at Port Varna is limited, so it is highly recommended that fans book their tickets on time if they don’t want to risk missing this festival. Kids under 12 years of age will attend free of charge. Single-day tickets are not foreseen at this stage.

Buy ticket for Nightwish on Varna Mega Rock 2018

APOCALYPTICA join to Varna Mega Rock Festival

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album “Plays Metallica by Four Cellos”, APOCALYPTICA take a long tour that goes on in 2018. One of the dates is on Varna Mega Rock Festival that will take place on 18 and 19 August 2018 at Port Varna in Varna, Bulgaria.

Apocalyptica

Apocalyptica

Headliners are Glenn Hughes and NIGHTWISH. The local bands in the festival line-up are BTR, KROSSFIRE, KIKIMORA, BENDIDA and KONKURENT.

Apocalyptica on Varna Mega Rock Festival

Tickets for both festival days are available worldwide at eTicketsMall,  they will cost BGN 90 until July 18th and a month before the festival their price will be BGN 120. Tsonko Tsonev said that the space at Port Varna is limited, so it is highly recommended that fans book their tickets on time if they don’t want to risk missing this festival. Kids under 12 years of age will attend free of charge. Single-day tickets are not foreseen at this stage.

Buy ticket for Nightwish on Varna Mega Rock 2018

COCHISE – official video clip for new song “Crystal”

COCHISE, a Grunge band from Poland, release their brand new studio album “Swans And Lions” this March. A promo video for the third single “Crystal” can be seen now.

“Swans And Lions” will be released on March, 16th 2018 in Europe and on March, 23rd in North America. The follow-up to the album “The Sun Also Rises For Unicorns” is their fifth full-length release.

Cochise - Swans And Lions

Cochise – Swans And Lions

Track list:

1. 16
2. Crystal
3. Tick Tack Toe
4. Neverland
5. Beautiful Destroyers
6. Control
7. Pain of God
8. Winter
9. Storm
10. Swans
11. …and Lions
12. Secrets (Bonus track)

The band was formed in 2004 in Białystok, Poland. The current line-up includes: Paweł Małaszyński on vocals (he is also a very successful movie actor in Poland), Wojtek Napora on the guitar, Radek Jasiński on the bass guitar and Adam ‘Argon’ Galewski on the drums. So far, they have released a demo “9” plus four full-length releases – „Still Alive” in 2010, „Back to Beginning” in 2012, “118” in 2014 and “The Sun Also Rises For Unicorns” in 2015. On their studio albums, COCHISE perfectly blend energetic songs enriched with Heavy, almost Metal sounds with more delicate, Atmospheric ones.

COCHISE – line-up:
Paweł Małaszyński – vocals
Wojtek Napora – guitar
Radek Jasiński – bass guitar
Adam ‘Argon’ Galewski – drums