Recorded at Morrisound Studios, USA; Produced by Jim Morris; Released on Steamhammer/SPV on 8 May 2006.
If I had been played this album without being told who the artist was I would have said—without a shadow of a doubt—that this was a Judas Priest album. Of course, it isn’t. But it does feature probably the only other former Priest vocalist that most people have heard of; Al Atkins, anyone?
Previously my only encounter with Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens was when he helmed Judas Priest after Rob Halford’s departure in 1992. I didn’t realise, or had forgotten, that he then went on to front Iced Earth.
Remarkably I own no recordings by either band. Gleaned from the free CDs that adorn metal magazine covers, I have only three tracks by Judas Priest (‘Blood stained’, ‘Devil digger’, and ‘Nostradamus’) and five by Iced Earth (‘Burning times’, ‘Divide and devour’, ‘Dracula’, ‘I died for you’, ‘Setian massacre’). None of the classics, and no albums. So I have nothing to compare this against; which may be a good thing. I imagine that Beyond Fear would want this album to stand up on its own merits.
The album opens with about 20 seconds of ambient white noise that sounds like a a group of primary school children dropping a load of cutlery on the London underground, before an old school style thrash riff rips into the song and then those vocals…
I’m sorry, I can’t help it. I really does sound like Judas Priest, and with lyrics like
With giant claws of steel, it has arrived
The metal monster, it’s now alive
It came to take our world, and steal your soul
It will find you, and take control
it’s like even the songs think they should be on a ‘Priest album.
But do you know what? I don’t care, because this is a fabulous album. A ripping album, if you will. It’s heavy, it’s melodic, the vocals are soaring, majestic and biting in equal measure, and the production is first class: warm and well balanced.
If I might be permitted to make another comparison, there are elements of this album that put me in mind of Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson’s solo efforts, particularly The Chemical Wedding. And in my book that has to be a good thing.
I’d be interested to hear from long-time Judas Priest and Iced Earth fans how this album compares with TRO’s previous exploits, but as a newcomer to his work I really like this album.
Review score: 85%