Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

July 18, 2010

Judas Priest ~ Nostradamus

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Style: heavy metal, british
Label: Epic
Year: 2008
Home: England

Members: Rob Halford ~ vocals
K. K. Downing, Glenn Tipton ~ guitars
Ian Hill ~ bass
Scott Travis ~ drums

Don Airey ~ keyboards

Concept albums can be good & bad in terms of results. There's nothing inherently wrong with the idea but it's not for every band. At it's best probably is The Who with Tommy & Quadraphenia & Lou Reed's Berlin & nearly equal is Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, though the story comes & goes & one might even include Alice Cooper's story of Steven on Welcome To My Nightmare. The Beatles tried it with Sgt. Pepper, but is there really a story on that album or does the story actually cover the whole album? Yes's Tales From Topographic Oceans is probably one of the most ambitious forays & depending on who you talk to the results are either great or over the top. Lou Reed's The Raven might be one of the most failed versions as the 2 CD was deemed so unlistenable it was released in a 1 CD edited version. So, it's not so much the idea as the band. Some bands can do it. Some can't. But, definetly concept albums musical ambition has been shown to be more a risk than a sure success. We all raved when we heard Priest, again with Rob Halford, were recording a new album - a 2 CD set based on the life & ideas of Nostradamus, no less. Ambition plus working overtime here for a band not known for concept albums! But, I remember telling a friend when I'd finally heard Nostradamus ... how I was thoroughly disappointed. He said, yeah, I know, but I wasn't going to tell you. I actually appreciated him not telling me so I'd never wonder just how disappointing it really is. JP is not a concept album band but hard rockers breakin' the musical law but within certain boundaries that are rather predictable ... but here I feel they are trying to be a completely different band. Ethereal moody prog-rock interludes bridging dirges & classical music disguised as rock songs is not their forte. It's not that I'm against them changing their sound & experimenting. I'm happy not to hear another 3 minute riff-fest. But, I also like my music to rock & not plod. Or, I don't want my music to sound like it actually comes from the days of Nostradamus. I'm not a big fan of lute rock. I want groinal action, not astrological wisdom. I can only hope this will be both their first & last foray into 2 CD concept albums & to lay off the use of keyboards & choirs to bridge the songs making it feel like a opera not an album of songs. There are aspects to this album which are great but the songs largely rely on a plodding sound that's more interested in getting the message across then flaming guitar solos & Halford's famous vocal pyrotechnics. Filler plus, the songs are bridged by scene change music, that overlaps the ends & beginnings making it all one long ... Grateful Dead concert ... & thus destroying the songs themselves as they are fragmented into pieces & incomplete. This is power metal for the wrong band that might have been a career highlight for anyone else. Dream Theater would be a good choice. But, with JP something is missing. They went too far with the idea & lost the essence of the songs. As it is, there's exactly 10 songs on the 2 CD's that I like. So, less than half the album I find to be listenable. For those who are wondering, so you can program your ipod to skip the rest: "Death," "War," "Prophecy," "Visions," "Revelations," "Pestilence & Plague," "Nostradamus," "Fututure Of Mankind," "Conquest" & "Persecution." "War" probably has one of the few orchestra solos on a heavy metal album, particularly with it's sword battle sound-effects. If you want to do the single CD version, like Lou Reed's The Raven, his similiar biographic tribute to the life of Edgar Allen Poe, I've already given you the tracks to include for the single CD version of Nostradamus.

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