Released: 2001, SPV Records
Okay... You’ve heard the rumours, the bad reports, and the poor quality sound clips... You’ve been worrying to the point that you can’t sleep at night... Your boss has been asking you if you’re having any problems at home and if you need some time off... You yelled "THEY DIDN’T SELL OUT, GODDAMMIT!!!" at the little old lady who asked you the time at the supermarket last week... So... Does DEMOLITION really suck as much as you were expecting??? I am happy to report that it’s a rather decent album. It isn’t without it’s flaws, but overall it’s a good effort on part of the Priest. Feel free to relax now...
Up until very recently, I too had been exceptionally nervous about DEMOLITION. There had been rumours that the band had "lost it" creatively, that they were delaying the release so Halford could return, blah, blah, blah... There were also a couple of reports that the European music press hated it, which is rarely a good sign (When critics from the "Land O’ Metal" don’t like it, it can’t be a good thing...). Then there were those low quality streaming audio samples popping up on the net that misled many people (myself included) to think that the mighty Judas Priest, my all-time favorite band, had fallen by the wayside... Well, it’s not the album I had hoped for, but it’s by no means a total piece of crap. "Happy, happy, joy, joy! Happy, happy, joy, joy!"
DEMOLITION begins with a few seconds of sound effects (something that’s becoming a little too popular among many bands these days...) before kicking into the drum intro of "Machine Man", a fast and frantic tune about auto racing. If you’re listening to this tune while driving and you don’t suddenly start cursing on your Tracker for not being a ‘Cuda (I know I did), then there’s definitely something wrong with you. "One On One" is a nice heavy chug-a-long type of song, much in the vein of "Burn In Hell" (from JUGULATOR). Things get rather different and surprisingly good with "Hell Is Home", with it’s dark acoustic intro and great vocal melody. Sort of a "Sympathy For the Devil" for the 21st century. Then comes the first "experimental" tune, "Jeckyl & Hyde". Sounding almost like Sabbath-meets-Savatage, if it weren’t so heavy I could imagine Sebastian Bach singing this one in the Broadway production of the same name. Rather dramatic sounding, in my opinion. "Close to You" is the first of two ballads... Not a bad song, but not really "Priest-y".
Anyway, before I allow myself to slip into a track-by track rundown, I’ll just say that of the remaining eight tracks, only "Subterfuge" and "Metal Messiah" are total garbage. There are a few more that are subject to the opinion of the individual listener ("Devil Digger", "In Between" and "Lost and Found") as to whether or not they’re good. "Cyberface" is another experimental track that is also subject to scrutiny, but personally I think it’s a very good tune. And to squeeze in the titles of the remaining two songs, "Bloodsucker" and "Feed On Me" just plain rock.
Now for my complaints... 1) "Subterfuge" and "Metal Messiah"... Glenn... K.K.... Ian... What the HELL were you thinking when you decided to release these songs to the public?!?!?!?! They’re fine for a JOKE, but they are NOT by any means worthy of Judas Priest!!! You guys are the Metal Gods, not f*cking Machine Head!!! Please, don’t ever, EVER write any more crap like this again! (According to a recent interview with Glenn Tipton, Glenn’s teenaged son keeps him up-to-date on the latest musical happenings (K*rn, Limp Wristed, et al...). A word of advice; Glenn, the next time your kid says "Hey, Dad! Listen to this..." Smack him.)
2) Too many "techno/gadgety" sounds, especially in the intros. If you feel like playing with gadgets in the studio, give Peter Tagtgren a hand on the next Pain album, but don’t do it on Judas Priest records.
3) Priest albums require more guitar solo trade offs and harmonizing. (Self explanatory.)
4) Yes, Ripper is a great vocalist... Yes, he can sing very well... But he’s the vocalist for Judas Priest and I want to hear him screaming more than he does on this album. SCREAM, DAMMIT!!!
5) The use of foul language. Not that the occasional swear word offends me, but c'mon guys... Profanity only tends to cheapen the art of Metal. Don't lower yourselves to the level of Mallcore idiots.
And that’s about it... No more Mallcore tunes, less use of gadgets and gizmos, more soloing, more screaming, and no more cussing... That’s not too much to ask for, is it??? But anyway, DEMOLITION is a very good album that occasionally gets sidetracked by some experimenting in the wrong musical direction. I think it’s safe to assume that die-hard fans of Halford-era Priest won’t be too impressed with it, but if you liked JUGULATOR and are willing to give it more than one listen to let it grow on you, then it just might be worth picking up.