Judas Priest - "Nostradamus" (CD)
"Nostradamus" track listing:
1. Dawn Of Creation
5. The Four Horsemen
7. Sands Of Time
8. Pestilence And Plague
12. Lost Love
4. Shadows In The Flame
7. New Beginnings
8. Calm Before The Storm
10. Future Of Mankind
Reviewed by Diamond Oz on August 27, 2008
After Judas Priest released their excellent "reunion" album "Angel Of Retribution" in 2005, may fans wondered where the metal gods would go next. When a concept album based on the life of Nostradamus was announced, some people met it with skepticism. However, upon listening to the album, not only did Judas Priest follow with another great album, but proved that such an experiment was the best idea to follow a reunion album.
The album opens with the ominous intro track, "Dawn Of Creation," which leads nicely into "Prophecy." This is just one of many songs that has an introductory track but each one works perfectly. "Prophecy" is modern Judas Priest at their best - it is heavy metal how fans want it. The chorus line of "I am Nostradamus" may prove to be a bit cheesy for some, but don't forget this is the same band who wrote a song about the Loch Ness Monster and rides motorcycles onto the stage. Only Judas Priest can make those kind of antics work, so "Prophecy" is by no means worth complaining about on the lyrical front. Chances are you'll find yourself singing along to it (of course you may get some funny looks when singing "I am Nostradamus" but that doesn't matter because it's a great song.) "Dawn Of Creation/ Prophecy" is a great way to open the album and kicks off the music with the energy boost it needed.
What follows throughout the rest of the first disc is much more grand in sound than "Prophecy" and very different to what a lot of Priest fans were expecting but that is what makes "Nostradamus" a fantastic Judas Priest album, and believe it or not, still in the vein of the band's sound since Priest is a band that sounds different on every album, let alone every decade. For example, 1982's "Screaming For Vengeance" is far different from the 70's classic "Sad Wings Of Destiny," as was 1990's "Painkiller." Just as they've done in the last decades, Priest has reinvented themselves yet again and still stayed true to themselves.
The song after "Prophecy," entitled "Revelations," is far different and longer, clocking in at seven minutes and five seconds long. "Revelations" kicks off with a great guitar riff which helps the song explode into an epic frenzy. The song reminds me of a fast paced action scene in a movie and would work just as well in Lord Of The Rings as it would in Rocky IV. The small guitar solo half-way through the song has a very middle eastern tone to it, which adds a lot more to the song than you might expect. Most of the rest of the disc follows in this vein and experience in terms of sound, but fortunately it doesn't sound repetitive.
I felt that "War" was a very strange song and sounded more like an intro for the next song. It's not until you realize that "War" is over five minutes long that you realize it's its own song. It's unfortunate that this song was released as the record's debut single, being the first glimpse for the public to experience what "Nostradamus" sounds like, as the song is really not helpful in that respect at all. The song received some criticism over the Internet when it was released, but this really is a song that doesn't sound good unless you're listening to the disc from start to finish.
The next part of the disc focuses on the myth of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and how they were interpreted by the philosopher. These songs contain the dark atmosphere you'd expect it to carry as well as continuing the epic sound that's been dominant on the record. After this comes "Lost Love," which is essentially a love song but like everything else, fits very nicely between the other tracks. It doesn't stray from the theme of "Nostradamus" and is a welcome change in pace and sound, losing the big epic feel and almost relaxing the listener.
The second disc opens with a much more depressing tone than the first. Considering the lyrics are about Nostradamus being exiled, they could hardly make a song like "Living After Midnight" or anything remotely fun. However, "Solitude/Exiled" is fantastic and one of my favorites on the album. It puts you in the exact mood the band hoped to achieve (i.e. not a very happy one) and contains some fantastic piano work courtesy of Don Airey. The song also features one of the most sorrowful vocal performances ever heard from Rob Halford and contains some brilliant lyrics.
This disc also contains another standout track with "Visions." To me, this was the obvious choice for a lead single, as it contains a really catchy chourus and isn't as full on with the concept idea as many of the other songs on this album. As a result, "Vision" is the kind of track you can get into instantly. This song also demonstrates that the incredible vocal power of Rob Halford is not leaving him anytime soon, as his voice really shines on this track.
The title track is a lot faster and heavier than most of the album, which was quite unexpected but also a welcome change as any more grandiose could have made the album seem quite stale and a little boring. The song kicks off with some eerie keyboard work and haunting vocals before kicking the door down with a balls out heavy metal song that in places sounds a little like some of the classics Priest recorded in the 80's such as "Freewheel Burning" and "You've Got Another Thing Comin." It is a nice treat for long-time fans. The album closes with "Future Of Mankind," which musicially, I felt should have been left off and "Nostradamus" would have made a great stopping point. At over eight minutes long, it seems to be a little too much for what is basically an outro. However, the song contains some great keyboard work and that alone finishes the album with a fantastic feel that has been carried throughout the album. Perhaps the keyboard work should have been used at the end of the previous song or as an outro track by itself, which wouldn't have seemed out of place considering the amount of intros the album contained.
In the grand scheme of things, I wasn't too sure about so many song intros being given separate tracks and titles, as I felt this could limit the band for future song ideas. That said, the intros are definitely deserving of their own tracks because they're so good and some of them wouldn't have worked very well as part of the whole song.
The entire album is very interesting piece and is not only enjoyable but also actually makes you want to study the life of Nostradamus himself and find your own knowledge and translations of his predictions. Personally, I want to hear more of this album's concept from the Judas Priest perspective but in different mediums. One thing I thought might be interesting would be a movie based on the life of Nostradamus, using some of the albums music in score form. Though that may seem a little far, it doesn't really seem like an out of place idea given the seemingly trendy slew of movies being made about rock bands, singers or even other albums.
"Nostradamus" is certainly not the greatest release by Judas Priest but will receive a high place in the catalog of the group. It is an excellent album and a treat for fans of Judas Priest the world over.
Highs: Contains some fantastic vocal work from Rob Halford and alot of music worthy of being contained on a great concept album.
Lows: Some of the songs are a little too involved in themselves and can seem too long.
Bottom line: Definitely not the greatest Judas Priest album and perhaps more for hardcore fans but well worth your time and money.
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