There was a lot of reaction, negative and positive when KK Downing announced his version of Judas Priest with two former members of the band, Les Binks and Tim ‘’Ripper’’ Owens. Some people thought it was a pale attempt at revenge at his former band and some people thought it was simply a comeback to music after a number of years away.
So is the second album, appropriately titled ‘’The Sinner Rides Again’’ a step forward in their short history, that’s why I am here!
You can say without a doubt that we might never know the truth about why KK Downing left Judas Priest, was it really to take care of his golf course design business or were there some underlying issues between him and the other band members? I know that recently he declared that he thought he could come back to the band after Glen Tipton’s health issues made him retire pretty much from touring and whatnot. Is the band a shot at not coming back or simply a way to come back to music by the front door?
Did anyone forget about the existence of Les Binks? I always thought about Scott Travis as a drummer for the band and never gave a second thought about Les Binks who was the main drummer for Judas Priest from 1977 to 1979. For people that don’t know, he played on the classic albums Unleashed in the East, Stained Class, and Killing Machine. Scott Travis has been the drummer for Judas Priest since 1989 and I guess I kinda forgot about anyone who came before him. Binks is still part of the classic era of the band and was very important in the infancy of the band and it’s fun to see him back in the limelight persay. But being not able to work a full schedule, we have the veteran Sean Elg from Cage in his place.
What can be said about Tim ‘’Ripper’’ Owens, he is all over the place and has been very active since the beginning of the pandemic, lending his voice to many projects all over the world. The guy has the pipes and he is a brand name in the world of Metal. I believe he never gained the respect and adoration that he should have as the frontman of Judas Priest, his two albums with the band are really good. Have you listened to them lately? They have aged gracefully and they are different from the classic albums but they wanted to do something different and they aced it. There were so many people who wanted Halford back in the band and it hurt the credibility of them choosing Owens as their new singer back in 1997. You can say also that he never gained that notoriety in Iced Earth and I am actually not a fan of the band but his first album fronting them is outstanding. I believe that his doing his own thing, and participating in so many bands and projects have made him gain back what was rightfully his all along.
I was actually pretty excited by this band from the get-go. I loved the last few Judas Priest albums but listening to something from one of the original members and having the balls to call it KK’s Priest! I thought it was a pretty big dig at his former band and after being out of the business for almost ten years, I guess he wanted to make a big splash. Hey guys this is my new version of the band, listen to this and stick it to this former band. I don’t think it’s entirely true that he wanted to come back because it was time. I feel he wanted to make his own version of the band, probably to show the world he can still go and after those two singles, it’s safe to say he didn’t jump the shark.
Tim Owens reaches the high notes like never before and the first two single of the new album, ‘’One More Shot at Glory’’ and ‘’Strike of the Viper’’ makes him burst at the seams. He always had trouble with the lower notes but he concentrated on his great screaming skills and passionate singing. He is not an afterthought, he is front and center with KK’s excellent playing, and he feels in the right place. I thought his work with The Three Tremors was mediocre at best and it’s fun to see him bouncing back. His place is with Judas Priest (well this version obviously) and I will always associate him with that band.
This album feels more like the classic Priest era than their previous full-length album. I also tend to think it has this European Power Metal vibe going on, so you have some old-school stuff mixed in with some very long songs that are drawn out like some of the Power Metal epic stuff with got in the mid to late nineties. Tim Owens did front Iced Earth for an album and that for me was the very best album in their career to that point. Tim Owens also worked with the Drover brothers in his solo band and they were part of the underappreciated Eidolon band, so maybe those bands had some influence on the sound of their second album.
We obviously need to talk about the elephant in the room…those song names are pretty atrocious. It’s a wink to the classic Priest era with titles like ‘’The Sinner Rides Again’’, ‘’Son of the Sentinel’’ and ‘’One More Shot at Glory’’. Geez, seriously guys? What are they trying to pull? To pull in the fans of old with the same words over and over again? Thankfully the songs are great but the lyrics aren’t fantastic nor are the song titles I guess the fact of the matter is the material is solid yet unimaginative at times!
KK Downing can still deliver an excellent solo and his work is as good as ever, he hasn’t lost a step. His work right now might be more significant than anything he did back in the day, I just hope his motivation is at the right place but it’s one hell of a good start. You already have two great singles so the future is very bright (well hopefully) and I sure as hell hope they can tour in North America because the Priest is back.
Songwriting & Lyrics7/10 GoodThis album feels more like the classic Priest era than their previous full-length album. I also tend to think it has this European Power Metal vibe going on, so you have some old-school stuff mixed in with some very long songs that are drawn out like some of the Power Metal epic stuff with got in the mid to late nineties.
Overall Sound9/10 AmazingKK Downing can still deliver an excellent solo and his work is as good as ever, he hasn’t lost a step.