Heavy metal mainstays Judas Priest have released their first new music in six years, the charging title track of their 17th album Redeemer of Souls, due out July 15th. Frontman Rob Halford told Rolling Stone earlier this year that the album will be a “very heavy record.” The track is the first new music they’ve released since guitarist Richie Faulkner joined their lineup – following the departure of founding guitarist K.K. Downing in 2011 – as well as the first since releasing the 2008 concept album Nostradamus. “It’s gonna be a great moment for Priest and for metal, hopefully,” Halford said.
“Sometimes in the past we may have come under fire for being too adventurous musically – so we have listened,” guitarist Glenn Tipton said in a statement, possibly referring to the mixed critical reaction Nostradamus received. “From start to finish, Redeemer of Souls is 13 songs of pure classic Priest metal.”
Since the release of Nostradamus, the group adapted to the departure of Downing and the arrival of Faulkner and embarked on its final world trek, which it dubbed the “Epitaph Tour,” in 2011. “[Touring] takes a big chunk out of your life,” Tipton told Rolling Stone that year. “We’ve been doing it for 40 years now or close to it, and we all love that moment on stage, but it’s difficult to be away from home and all the traveling involved.” Rather than tour in support of a new album at the time, the group issued a compilation – The Chosen Few – which contained songs picked by famous Priest friends and fans, including Ozzy Osbourne and members of Motörhead and Metallica, among others.
The group released a DVD of the Epitaph Tour last year and spoke to Rolling Stone about their progress on Redeemer of Souls. “The great thing from a writing point of view is that Priest’s brand of music is so broad, there’s a lot to take from,” Faulkner said. “[It goes to] one extreme from the other. You can put stuff on the table and nothing is discounted.”
Most recently, the band took some time off to rewrite the lyrics to their hit “Breaking the Law” to “Respecting the Law” for a copyright-themed episode of The Simpsons in January. The group got another nod from the show the next week after its fans complained online that the show had referred to Judas Priest as “death metal.” As an act of contrition, Bart Simpson scrawled “Judas Priest is not ‘Death Metal'” on the chalkboard in the show’s opening credits.