When Judas Priest announced former Judas Priest Cover Band, British Steel singer, Tim “Ripper” Owens as the new singer in 1996, I had high hopes the band would beable to maintain the same level of intensity the band had on the Painkiller disc.
The first time I heard the Jugulator disc, I was completely let down. Owens came off like a bad Halford clone. I thought maybe the band has been too far removed from the recording process to recapture their classic metal sound. It was 7 years since Painkiller was released after all.
I haven’t played Jugulator for quite a while, but a couple of songs off this disc have made their way onto the Boneyard playlist on XM Radio. Strangely enough, the songs started growing on me. I decided to give this album another chance. I may have been a little too quick to write this one off.
Looking at the track listing, one must quickly garner that the band is quite angry on this release. The subject matter is certainly heavy and on the depressing side. Is their a rule that says that a metal band has to write all doom and gloom tunes? Judas Priest has quite a few upbeat, catchy tunes in their repertoire. You won’t find may of those on Jugulator.
A quick run down of the tracks:
Jugulator is high speed sonic attack that at times almost ventures into the Power Metal category. Owens is quick to establish that he has a multi-faceted voice, but this song does nothing to excite me. Whoever mixed this album picked the wrong song to open up this album.
Blood Stained is a much better tune. I actually like this one a lot. It is a little different from the classic Priest sound, but I like Owens growly vocals on this one. Judas Priest should have done more songs like this one on Jugulator.
Dead Meat is a heavy tune that resembles the Painkiller sound somewhat. The one thing that is missing from this song, is a catchy chorus. This song just doesn’t work for me.
On Death Row, Ripper tends to scream more than he sings. It is a heavy driving tune, and the chorus is a little better on this one, but it takes a little too long to get it. The lyrics are a little cheesy but it is a tune that has grown on me.
Decapitate doesn’t have a whole lot of redeeming qualities. This tune comes across as a moody, noisy metal track. I find this one, a hard song to listen too.
After the migraine causing Decapitate (no pun intended) Burn in Hell is a move in the right direction. The band slows the rhythm down long enough for the listeners to catch their breath, and then blast off into what is one of Judas Priest’s better songs with Ripper Owens.
Unfortunately, I felt the migraine returning with Brain Dead (maybe it has something to do with head related songs). This is more metal noise with little replay value.
Abductors is more of a mid tempo metal song. It isn’t a great song, but it is better than many of those that came before it.
I had high hopes for the song Bullet Train. After all, this seems like a cool subject matter to write a good metal song about. Sadly, once again, this is another tune that does not deliver. Chalk this one up to poor song writing.
Does any one really need a nine minute song? Their are some rare exceptions to this rule, but Cathedral Spires is not one of them. Judas Priest should have learned their lesson with this extremely lengthy metal migraine. Sadly, they went on to do another 9 minute stinker Lochness on Angel of Retribution.
As a whole, my first reaction to Jugulator was the right one. There are two or three songs with redeeming qualities, but this does not make a good CD. Ripper Owens debut with Judas Priest was a flawed one for sure. It may not be completely his fault. Very few vocalists can overcome a poorly written song, and Ripper just didn’t have the
experience to save most of those badly crafted tunes. After listening to Jugulator, I am glad that Rob Halford is back with the band. I am going to go take some Excedrin now!
Jugulator is a disc that will appeal to die hard metal fans, and those wanting to complete their Judas Priest collections only.
Rating:Out of 10
2. Blood Stained
3. Dead Meat
4. Death Row
6. Burn in Hell
7. Brain Dead
9. Bullet Train
10. Cathedral Spires
Judas Priest is:
Ripper Owens – Vocals
KK Downing – Guitars
Glenn Tipton – Guitars
Ian Hill – Bass
Scott Travis – Drums