JUDAS PRIEST’s irrevocable Epitaph and the Resurrection of K.K.Downing

The New Moon at the end of November brings release of the tribulations around Judas Priest in the past two years. K.K.Downing has issued the following statement:

CaptureKK

It seems Judas Priest’s choice to cover up pervading toxicity had sucked the oxygen from their pond, until K.K.Downing was urged to stir it. Rightfully so – having left the band in 2011 amid unresolved conflict, and prior to Priest’s supposed farewell tour, he is not just attached to the band – he formed and helped mould it out of his own creative body over the course of 40 years.
His conflict being primarily with Glenn Tipton, he wrongfully but logically presumed that, once Glenn announced his Parkinson’s diagnosis and stepped down from active touring, Priest would rush to re-incorporate the other half of the axe duo that constituted the band’s essence.

K.K.Downing

K.K.Downing with “MegaPriest” at KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton, 3rd November 2019

Little did he know that Judas Priest had already made other calculations.
Nothing had to change.
Judas Priest had established themselves as “gods” and “legends”, and in the words of Ian Hill, “heavy metal may now be cliche, but we invented it”. Ta-da.

K.K.Downing

K.K.Downing with “MegaPriest” at KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton, 3rd November 2019

Heavy Metal as a genre, with enough exceptions that still confirm the rule, has long given up its revolutionary connotations and become a bastion of conservatism with an odour of bellicosity, a refuge for frail identities. (One proof is the comments’ section of the heavy metal news site, blabbermouth, where commenters seem mostly concerned with “shutting up” their idols, alongside any critical opinion.) There is some “truth” in metal, but it is that of a party line, a uniform, a brand holding the imagined power to provide fanatics with a sense of belonging. It’s a trap for both parties, those being sucked and their sycophants – a perversely intricate construct, given this is only rock’n’roll.

K.K.Downing

K.K.Downing with “MegaPriest” at KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton, 3rd November 2019

It’s been such a backlash, such hostility KK Downing has had to endure from “fans” (coupled with that of his former colleagues), for simply relaying his own version of events in a dicreet and gentlemanly manner. It may sound like a storm in a glass to the outsider, but Priest’s struggle has been fierce to preserve the myth and keep up the facade, pleasing their (albeit dwindling) hordes of fanatics, to whom they openly refer as “maniacs”.
What the “maniacs” receive in return, are the full pyrotechnics for which they are prepared to part with their hard-earned dollar. Music and deep creatvity play second fiddle to this. Could Priest nowadays do a concert on a minimal stage, in black shirts, with no effects, and still be as impactful? Let’s leave the question open – but it seems to matter little to their fans that a fantastic guitarist such as K.K. Downing, whose name alone is an accolade, is no longer in the picture. Many of their concert attendants, reportedly, think Richie Faulkner is K.K, and leave the concert happy. Personal, challenging guitar style? Improvisation, soul, character? It’s all lost in the screens, smokes, and techically-enhanced screams. The Firepower fanboys want to be “blown away” and “get their ass kicked”, not to think, feel, and truly experience.
But that’s the case, to some extent, even in classical music today. Intimate, authentic concerts, where every note of the soloist is suffered, compete with productions where Paganini is turned into a hollow spectacle.
The latter are keywords, perhaps. Rob Halford has promised the Judas Priest 50th anniversary tour (minus K.K.) to be an “amazing spectacular”. He has also intimated that he finds the Ronnie James Dio hologram a “most beautiful, wonderful thing”.
Judas Priest is currently promoting a 2020 tour, booked through to the end of next year, featuring Glenn Tipton. While our hearts go out to Glenn, common sense wonders whether a late-stage Parkinson’s sufferer, whose only appearance in 2019 was a brief, painstaking struggle, could make it next year.
What if not? A further “spectacular” addition to the already giant screens? A “beautiful” hologram?

Judas Priest 2020 tour poster

Judas Priest 2020 tour poster

All of the above is a bit exaggerated, and not all Priest fans are zombies – although the ones who seek pure music and genuine identity, may be quick to regroup in the K.K. camp. Even those who were fond of the myth and their childhood heroes, might agree the balloon has popped. But K.K. has emerged from the dysfunctional rock’n’roll bubble rejuvenated and vigorous.
The fans were already enthusiastic at his Bloodstock appearance in August this year; but his full Priest-classics concert in Wolverhampton on November 3rd, featuring Les Binks, Tim “Ripper” Owens, Megadeth’s Dave Ellefson, and second guitarist AJ Mills, is described thus by a fan:
“I think the best 50th anniversary celebration “Priest” could present already happened, and it was in Wolverhampton a few weeks ago.”
K.K. had the brisk demeanour of a child, coupled with mature sensitivity, bringing his wonderful takes and twists to Priest solos.
We do hope he forges on with new material, emerging from self-imposed obscurity and the swamp of non-resolution. The myth has been debunked, and fare well to Judas Priest on their 50th anniversary sail with two replacement guitarists. Hold your metal prayers that not too many in your congregation see the preacher naked.

Judas Priest on their 2019 Firepower Tour

Judas Priest on their 2019 Firepower Tour

Diana Chavdarova

Gallery: DESTRUCTION in Varna

DESTRUCTION in Varna, Bulgaria, August 16, 2019, Vаrna Rock Festival 2019.

Photographer: Kiril Gruev ©

Check for full gallery in The Other Side.

 

ENTOMBED A.D. and ABORTED Co-headlining tour “Hell Over Europe III” coming next month

The legendary Swedish Death Metal act ENTOMBED A.D. have announced a tour with their brothers in crime ABORTED. The bands are going on “Hell Over Europe III” and will be joined by BAEST. (See the complete list of show below.)

Entombed A.D. and Aborted Co-headlining tour "Hell Over Europe III

ENTOMBED A.D. have just released their 3rd album entitled “Bowels Of Earth” through Century Media Records. The record official release date was 30th August and was followed by a kick-ass show at the Romanian festival Posada Rock Fest on 31st, where the guys performed two tracks of the album which were well embraced by the audience.

ABORTED are touring in support of their latest offering “TerrorVision” (2018) and BAEST will have their second effort “Venenum” out on September 13th.

The “Hell Over Europe III” tour starts October 18th in London and ends on November 17th in Hamburg. Get your tickets for this ball breaking tour package now!

Hell Over Europe III
ABORTED & ENTOMBED A.D.
BAEST

Presented by Metal Hammer

18/10/2019 UK London – The Dome
19/10/2019 DE Paderborn – Metal Inferno Festival
20/10/2019 DE Leipzig – Taubchentall
21/10/2019 CZ Prague – Futurum
22/10/2019 SK Bratislava – Randal club
23/10/2019 PL Warschau – Proxima
24/10/2019 LT Vilnius – Kablys
25/10/2019 LV Riga – Melna Piektdiena
26/10/2019 EE Talinn – Tapper
27/10/2019 FI Helsinki – On The Rocks
29/10/2019 SE Stockholm – Slykhust
30/10/2019 SE Gothenburg – Pustervik
31/10/2019 NO Oslo – Jon Dee
01/11/2019 DK Copenhagen – Vega
02/11/2019 DE Kassel – Goldgrube
03/11/2019 DE Mannheim – MS Complex
04/11/2019 IT Milano – Legend club
06/11/2019 ES Murcia – Garaje
07/11/2019 ES Malaga – Paris15
09/11/2019 ES Bilbao – Stage Live
10/11/2019 FR Toulouse – Metronum
11/11/2019 FR Niort – Camji
12/11/2019 FR Rennes – Ubu
13/11/2019 FR Savigny Le Temple – L’Empreinte
14/11/2019 BE Antwerp – Zappa
15/11/2019 NL Haarlem – Patronaat
16/11/2019 NL Sittard – Volt
17/11/2019 DE Hamburg – Kulturpalast

Submited by Albena Tsolova – Beta

Gallery: KATATONIA and PARADISE LOST at Rockstadt Extreme Fest 2019

KATATONIA and PARADISE LOST – the first day of Rockstadt Extreme Fest 2019 in Rasnov, Romania, August 1, 2019.

Photographer: Christina Ludosan ©

Check for full gallery in The Other Side.

Metal trailblazer K.K.Downing of JUDAS PRIEST triumphantly returns to the live stage after ten years

We usually like to shun pompous epithets dominating the metal media, but K.K.’s emergence at this year’s Bloodstock Festival has been an artistic as well as a personal triumph. Having left JUDAS PRIEST in 2011 (but remaining legally a member), his involvement in playing music amid unresolved issues had been close to none.

 

It has been quite an ordeal for the passionate Judas Priest fan to follow them this past year-and-a-half. Of course, Judas Priest is an ordeal itself – full of agony as well as ecstasy, a birthplace of extreme emotion inhumanly executed, origin of extreme metal and dare we say heavy metal per se, while transcending boundaries and never being cliche. But much needed catharsis has seemed to elude as of late.

Concluding image of the Firepower tour

Concluding image of the Firepower tour

It all began with the unfortunate announcement of Glenn Tipton’s Parkinson’s diagnosis in February 2018 and him being forced to step down from being a full touring Judas Priest member.

It seemed then that K.K.Downing, the other half of the guitar duo which constituted the dual-lead attack and, alongside Rob Halford, the legend that became Priest, had assumed that the way was open for him to return to the band he formed and devoted his life to.

Little did he know that not only this wasn’t the case, but his expressed surprise would trigger undisguised hostility in the Priest camp. An innocuous statement of Downing’s, namely that Andy Sneap had probably a greater contribution to Priest’s Firepower album than that of just any producer – much like the late Chris Tsangarides had on Painkiller – spurred Rob Halford to insinuate that Downing had made an ill implication of Glenn Tipton not having played guitar on Priest’s last installment. Tipton in turn, who was said to have only decided not to tour three weeks prior to the tour itself, appointed Sneap as his replacement without room for negotiating alternatives.

Judas Priest on their Firepower tour

Judas Priest on their Firepower tour

Many hints on the part of the band, aimed at Downing, were thrown in the media in the following months, suggesting that he had departed on his own accord and shouldn’t expect to be asked back (despite that Rob Halford had also once left), with some of them targetting K.K.’s reputation while also implicating the fans, as in: “Fans won’t miss KK Downing, since we have Richie Faulkner who brought new energy”. To the latter, KK responded that he had been the one most energetic on the British Steel 30th Anniversary tour, where namely, in October 2009, he made his final appearance on stage. We’d like to add to that K.K.’s unique style and cordial personality which couldn’t be replaced and which makes an artist, rather than just meticulous technicality.

K.K. Downing at Bloodstock Festival

K.K. Downing at Bloodstock Festival

Furthermore, in his book “Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest” which came out in September 2018, K.K., while remaining gentlemanly, made it clear he had reasons to have departed, involving decrease in the quality of performance, questionable management, and not least the personality of Glenn Tipton who, through “subtle control” in the words of K.K., sidelined him creatively and in terms of decision-making for the band. K.K.’s protests were fully ignored, he said, and the band had been run as a dictatorship instead of democracy, thence leaving him no choice.

For the fans of Judas Priest, the 2018-19 Firepower tour has been excessively emotional primarily due to the partial involvement of Glenn Tipton who still played some encores on chosen shows. We were made witness to his passion and attachment to the stage. His last appearance was on the 3rd of May, when his efforts seemed poignant.

K.K. Downing with Ross The Boss

K.K. Downing with Ross The Boss

The next step for Priest was the announcement of a 50th-anniversary concert (respectively tour), which everyone would have assumed should involve Downing (and why not other past members, such as drummer Les Binks of Stained Class fame). To our dismay, however, it seems to have been suggested that Sneap would continue “flying the flag” as replacement in Judas Priest, while K.K. intimated Priest’s lawyers had been sending him letters, “trying to erradicate the last speck of me” – this all leaving us to anticipate a golden wedding with a new girlfriend, while trying to divorce one’s wife.

Whatever’s going on behind the scenes in Priest, seems to stem from the realms of the irrational. Some fans hold it against Downing that he made bad business decisions in his life (as if this has any relevance to pure artistry), while business-savvy Priest have it together – but what business plan involves the promotion of a 50th-anniversary tour with only two original members (Tipton still being featured on the poster without promise of participating), a third one eager to play?

K.K. Downing with Ross The Boss Band

K.K. Downing with Ross The Boss Band

Speaking of playing, K.K. was artistically unambiguous on the 11th of August at Bloodstock, where he joined Ross The Boss (Ross Friedman, formerly of Manowar) and his band – this peer of Downing’s had his heart in bringing disheartened K.K. back: “I don’t know anything about what went down between K.K. and the band and I hope one day it could be solved matter. Fact it’s my ulterior motive to bring K.K Downing out and get him playing again and maybe back to where he belongs in Judas Priest. (…) I would love to put some good vibes out there to him and so maybe there would be a chance that something could happen and I think the fans would love it.” (themetalvoice.com)

K.K. Downing with Ross The Boss Band

K.K. Downing with Ross The Boss Band

K.K. emerged to show us what it’s all about. Youthful and dynamic, an eternal kid at heart, he executed with his poise of a “precision musician” as he describes himself, with distinction and ease, but also barely concealing his excitement and vivaciousness.

However dysfunctional the characters in the band might have been, they seemed to work together splendidly in the name of rock’n’roll – anything can be forgiven but the loss of spark and an air of toxicity, detrimental to music itself.

Throughout the clashes with his band (of which we can’t bring ourselves to say “former”) and the negative portrayal in the media, Downing has remained positive and keeps extending his will for dialogue (unfortunally met with a brick wall so far). The result on stage is the ingredient essential to music – groove.

Promotional poster for Judas Priest headlining the 2020 Wacken Festival

Promotional poster for Judas Priest headlining the 2020 Wacken Festival

Priest have been ill-advised to try and divide their fans, claiming whatever part of their unfortunately dwindling audience. Isn’t this in stark contrast with one of their anthems, United?

K.K.Downing is improvisation and freedom, a gale cutting the air to not let it stale. We need that back in Judas Priest, where the star of Rob Halford shines ever brightly.

In his latest interview following the performance at Bloodstock, a cheerful Downing leaves us resolutely hopeful: “Maybe this would be the first of many things… when bands get together, perform together…”

But “it is what it is”, K.K. always concludes, and in whatever way, we hope he Heads Out To The Highway without looking back, granting us his consistent lively presence on stage.

Ross The Boss with K.K. Downing performing Judas Priest classics: Green Manalishi (Fleetwood Mac cover), Heading Out To The Highway, Breaking The Law, and Running Wild:

The publication prepared by Beyond The Black

Gallery: CANNIBAL CORPSE in Sofia

CANNIBAL CORPSE in club Mixtape 5, Sofia, Bulgaria, June 14, 2019.

Photographer: Dimitar Baramski ©

Check for full gallery in The Other Side.

 

Gallery: SEPTICFLESH in Sofia

SEPTICFLESH in club Mixtape 5, Sofia, Bulgaria, March 30, 2019.

Photographer: Kiril Gruev ©

Check for full gallery in The Other Side.