To those who know me, it isn’t a secret that I’m a big Judas Priest. I have every album. The latest album, Nostradamus, is in my opion their best complete work to date. There are arguably better single songs in their catalog, but no better complete album.
Nostradamus is a massive two disc set. It comes in at nearly two hours running time, their longest studio work. The songs flow seemlessly from one to the next. It is as if the album was written with the thought of Judas Priest staging an opera based on this work. I’m, obviously, not a fan of opera … but if Judas Priest were to do such a thing and Rob Halford was to play the leading role I would do everything in my power to see it. (Bill Curbishley if you come across this … hint … hint … )
Priest has always been masterful at creating characters within their songs (The Ripper, Tyrant, Killing Machine, The Hellion/Electric Eye, and Painkiller to cite just a few). Nostradamus creates the character on a scale they’ve never done before; a scale which few other groups have ever been willing to attempt.
In this effort Priest is mixing things that are new to them (strings, keyboards, …). This includes some significantly slower, more ballady songs that bridge the major movements. Some hard core fans won’t like this. They’ll look at it as being “too soft” or “not Priest enough.” But you really have to look at these elements as being essential to the complete story they are trying to tell. And that story is of the man Nostradamus and the struggles, some say madness, that he went through to deliver prophetic visions that endure to this day. A handful of rocking songs won’t cover that story in the detail Priest accomplishes in this epic work.
A little later this summer I’ll being seeing Judas Priest again and from the second row (again). I’m looking forward to seeing how they incorporate material from this album into their live show. Will they start with Dawn of Creation/Prophecy or will they go for the ear-breaking intro of Rob riding a Harley on stage to start Hell Bent for Leather?