Monday, April 23, 2012

Judas Priest - Demolition (2001)

Demolition presents somewhat of a conundrum to me, for while I felt that Tim 'Ripper' Owens was better integrated into the band's overall sound, there are many laughable, lame choices in songwriting and lyrics that I find it incredibly difficult to take this seriously. I mean, really, this should have been the album that evolved the few tracks laid out by Jugulator into something worth experiencing, not some phoned in devolution into weaker, pedestrian riffing that felt out of touch and out of place in the new century. Even the cover to this album is immensely lazy, with that goofy title font and the lack of even the corny steel-limbed shredder beasts that fronted the two albums before it. If something looks uninspired, then it quite likely could SOUND uninspired, and Demolition is a swollen, 70 minute waste deposit that drowns its few positives in sewer loads of swill and shit.

Like Jugulator before it, the production was kept in the family here, with Glenn Tipton taking on the duties himself. I can't say that the album sounds all that terrible, because it's got a modern gloss and clarity to it that matches the dull thrashing clamor of its music. The chords and the endless chugging sequences are effectively punchy but vapid due to their basic and undeveloped notation, but they're flush with the volume of the drums and the more focused vocal lines. Ian Hill's bass-lines plunk along aggressively, but the problem is that the riff patterns being strewn out over him just feel like rehashes of Painkiller and Jugulator with mild differences, as if the band was, unsurprisingly, lazily trying to relive their past successes to no avail. Demolition is an album that would have GREATLY benefited from an outside input, in terms of the song quality. I mean, none of these are good, but the fact that they keep coming in an endless tide of mediocrity speaks to me that they might have tried to cut this down to 40-45 minutes of the most intense material. Demolition is an obese pedestrian in dire need of vehicular homicide...

...and it doesn't take very long to sink to the bottom of the toilet bowl. "Machine Man" starts out with a Scott Travis drum solo redolent of...well, "Painkiller", before erupting into this dull cycle of chords and a chugging verse sequence. Owens feels more controlled and restrained, and as a result I think he's a better fit to the surge of the music. Unfortunately, that music fairly sucks, and once he breaks into the lyric lines of the pre-chorus/chorus I nearly fall out of my chair and puke coffee out of my nostrils. 'So you motherfuckers want to race/you've all got LOSER tattooed on your face!' They dress the song up with the spurious, wild little affected guitars that lead into a decent if forgettable lead, but it's incredibly haphazard and painfully average. The sad fact is that Demolition gets no better as it progresses. Mid-paced power/thrash tunes like "One on One" and "Bloodsuckers" often feel like they just rephrases some of the Painkiller licks, and not formed into a positive configuration.

It gets worse. "Hell is Home" sounds like some garbage Black Label Society track that lost its way into Tim Owens' vocal booth. "Lost and Found" is the requisite power ballad, and while Tim does a decent doppelganger of what Rob Halford might have sounded like phrasing the same track, it's incredibly mediocre musically, with lamentable blues lead lines. "In Between" follows a similar course, only with more electric guitars, but it still seems dull. Tracks that attempt to take on a more epic, atmospheric structure like "Cyberface" and "Metal Messiah" come up far short of their intention with the Eastern, lurching flavor (though Owens pulls off a couple decent hooks here, too little and too late), and really there is not a single piece here that I would incorporate on ANY highlight reel in reference to this particular band. I realize that moving over to a label like Steamhammer from CBS/Epic might have lessened expectations, but didn't the suits even give this album a listen before releasing it? It should have been confined to its demo reels.

I don't know about you folks, but Judas Priest is not a band I turn to for generic, flatline drivel, and there's really no excuse for such an insipid recording from a band who once wrote classics like Sad Wings of Destiny, Sin After Sin, Screaming With Vengeance, and Painkiller. That this album would more or less put the nail in Ripper's coffin and eventually steer towards a reunion with the siren himself Rob Halford is no coincidence: just listen to this. Ironically, I don't think that Owens was primarily at fault here. His delivery was solid and concentrated, if not exemplary; he just had nothing interesting to sing over, and don't be surprised that these tracks (and those from Jugulator) find themselves increasingly absent from both the memory of the audience and any future set lists.

Verdict: Fail [3.25/10] (watch the suckers self destruct behind)

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