Judas Priest - Nostradamus
For millions of metalheads far and wide, new Judas Priest material is a cause for celebration, another chance to touch base with one of the pioneers of the entire thing. To chronicle their evolution would be a troublesome task, as they've been a band who's always kept a general metal center but have dabbled in it's most melodic, epically vast and painfully straight-forward aspects, perhaps helping spawn numerous subgenres along the way. While some will argue they've lost their way more than once, it's inevitable that a band with such a varied catalog will have fans drawing lines in the sand. For me, I've always enjoyed their heaviest moments the most, my favorite album being the rip-roaring "Painkiller". As a return to the limelight, "Angel of Retribution" satisfied me, but I was almost immediatly looking forward to their next chapter, knowing full well it would tell more than the almost forced past reflection that "Angel" represented. As often happens, I was correct in thinking Nostradamus, beyond it's concept, would represent better where Judas Priest have come to as a band. They're still reaching for the glory of their past, with feet firm in the here and now, but the big issue on this album is how loose they are with proving themselves able to stretch perceptions. It owes as much to Iron Maiden's classic epics as it does to Priest's, and it seems not to redefine the band as anything more positive, but to negate them from consideration when making a list of the bands who can pull a rock opera off. They just can't.
The meat of both discs is the same as the story of Nostradamus (many possible half-truths and myths included) is told through mid-paced simplistic rockers and all-too-regular symphonic interludes. You're going to here something from Priest you've never heard before; an emphasis on cheese that goes beyond their lyrical themes and fist-pumping metal nature. You'll here actual symphonies arranged for keyboards, spoken word passages that narrate a story you'll care less and less about everytime you hear Halford mention the name "Nostradamus". The man's tale is certainly a fascinating one and not only for the idea of him being some sort of seer and visionary; his life as a medicine man and his attempts at curing the plague are rather inspiring and intriguing alone. But somehow Priest manage to gloss over all that and instead turn to creating the biggest, cheesiest moments of epicness to correllate with a man who's tale would only owe such grandoise notions to those who believe totally in his abilities as a supernatural prognosticator. It takes a certain mind to be able to enjoy these two discs worth of drab, incredibly boring monotony. And it kills me to say this, but Priest have totally lost me here. Totally.
I don't really know what else to say about it. There are a few really fine moments (Persecution and the title track in particular) but it's all bogged down by so much pretentious balogna that the band just isn't built to be able to pull off. It's a damn shame too, because this album had the promise to be their shining achievement, as all concept albums do, because they tend to represent a band's ability to combine both a mastery of music with a mastery of creative thought, weaving two art forms together into one wonderful vision. There's no doubt that they still have the chops, and the music is rather well-written...it just misses the mark it sets for itself over and over again. This has been one of the hardest things to hear this year, a disappointment I wasn't quite ready for but at the same time should have been able to see coming. Judas Priest, to me, will always be the rebels in leather who shouted about breaking the law and defending the faith, waving their middle fingers at conformity. Nostradamus tries way too hard to conform to an idea that was too beyond their experience to reach. Even if condensed to one album of all the actual songs without any interludes, you'd still be stuck with a below average Priest album. Sad to say it, but they've flopped terribly. Here's hoping they can find themselves in a place where creative aspirations don't overtake the core of their historic and genuinely awe-inspiring musical selves.
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on 2008-09-10 RyanF Said:
This is cool....although i think band have somehat ran out of ideas....nothing beats "Painkiller". This album has some definite great points, that being said...
on 2008-09-08 dscanland Said:
Now that I've spent a couple listens on Nostradamus I have to concede to SolitaryMan's scathing review. Yes, there are some very impressive highlights on the album but there are WAY too many slow songs. I got terribly bored every time I listened all the way through both of the discs. Back to my original comment, If the Priest were a little more selective in their song selection in the first place, weeding out some of the pretentious crap this could have been an amazing album. They really just need a little more meat and not as many vegetables.
on 2008-08-03 kev_stev Said:
Reminds me of Coheed and Cambria's failings with GAIV, haha
on 2008-07-30 SolitaryMan Said:
There are a few decent tracks, but why focus on them when it's the album's worth of material Priest are trying to sell? This is a concept album, and as such it falls flat on it's face. I couldn't have given it a better rating, perhaps just talked a bit more about the few good moments.
on 2008-07-30 dscanland Said:
Wow Kev, That was a harsh review. I admit, Judas Priest should have been a little more selective in their song selection, bringing it down to one disc, but the good songs make up for it. I hope to have a review up shortly, giving a little more praise than Kevin did.