KK’s Priest: The Sinner Rides Again

Napalm Records 2023
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Label / Založba: Napalm Records
Release date / Datum izida: 29. 9. 2023
Production / Produkcija: K. K. Downing
Mix & Mastering: Jacob Hansen
Genre / Zvrst: Heavy Metal
9/10

for Slovene version scroll down the bar!


The father of many unforgettable guitar riffs that embody the character and work of Judas Priest’s enduring legacy, K. K. Downing – one might say ‘banished forever from paradise’ – is considered as one of the most important guitarists of classic heavy metal era, laying the foundations for the later flourishing of many genre (sub)genres. There is virtually no metal band in the world today (regardless of metal genre) that has not been inspired by the work of Judas Priest. And, indirectly, the figure of this great guitarist, who is considered an essential building block of the metal bible.

K. K. Downing, with his band KK’s Priest, is back! He has a fresh studio album in his pocket. The second in a row. Meaningfully named. Sinner is back. With all his vengeance! After Judas Priest truly slammed every door shut on his potential return to the band, where hand on heart, and regardless to all ‘thrash talk’ we’ve witnessed between him and Judas Priest since his 2011 exit, the legendary and one of metal’s most important guitarists remains even more determined to show his former cronies who in who in bringing out the most primal guitar riff.

And indeed. K. K. Downing has delivered even more devastatingly destructive decibels on the new KK’s Priest album than on its excellent predecessor “Sermons of the Sinner” (2021, RockLine’s review). In terms of musical direction, one could say absolute compositional and production ‘looseness’, the new album is actually even more impressive than its predecessor. Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens remains the most logical solution for Downing. The most suitable singer of those who are available. ‘Ripper’ remains unstoppable force and his breath taking vocal heights and strenghts takes the overall agression of an album’s material on a higher level. Combined with the sharpness of the primal riffage, his vocal style amplifies this agression even further. ‘Ripper’s’ razor-sharp pure vocal authority remains esencial and unique beast.

K. K. Downing shows his exceptional commitment to bring out the best he can especially in the ‘mid-eight’ passages when his solos come to the fore. This is his playground where no one can gets close. The field where his unique guitar character sparkles. Solos remain a toxic uniqueness! They are nostalgic reminder. To the golden days of Judas Priest. If we used to talk about how he and Glen Tipton perfected the work of twin guitars throughout the mid-eighties, Downing found a suitable parallel in guitarist AJ Mills. The soloing on this album is therefore the sweetest possible icing on the cake!

“The Sinner Rides Again” is (and being no surprise) a plug for the classic Judas Priest album called “Painkiller”. This was expected. And also desirable. The track “One More Shot At Glory” shines in all its anthemic glory, like the closing song from “Painkiller” album. And there is no shortage of anthems if we look further towards the rest of material (Keeper of the Graves).

“The Sinner Rides Again” is a mean and untamed beast full of smashing uppercuts! And the tale about Judas Priest is written under the ‘veil’ once again which makes sense. In fact, each track brings associations to different periods of the Judas Priest’s career. But mainly on “Painkiller” and “Angel of Retribution” era. And here is (for example) a song called Hymn 66. This one brings slight association with Dissident Aggressor from Judas Priest’s “Sin After Sin” (1977) album, even if it is dressed up in the fashionable aesthetics of new-age production.

“The Sinner Rides Again” is therefore a classic heavy metal book. It gathers all esencial ingredients on one place perfectly. Epic bombast, overall demonic magnet of occult and doom, a real dose of musicality, and more than desirable ammount of devastating speed and aggression. Well known riffs that will take no prisoners. It simply cannot be otherwise. This is K. K. Downing. It will be interesting to see how Judas Priest will respond to the excellent “The Sinner Rides Again” with their forthcoming album.

“The Sinner Rides Again” is the perfect companion to already excellent debut and, of course, to everything that bears the Judas Priest name. It’s good to see Kenneth and his companions back in the game for the second time in a very short space of time. Let them scream and ride on mighty wings of vengeance for many years to come.

Author: Aleš Podbrežnik

Tracklist:
1. Incarnation
2. Hellfire Thunderbolt
3. Sermons Of The Sinner
4. Sacerdote Y Diablo
5. Raise Your Fists
6. Brothers Of The Road
7. Metal Through And Through
8. Wild And Free
9. Hail For The Priest
10. Return Of The Sentinel

Line-up:
Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens – vokal
K. K. Downing – kitara
AJ Mills – kitara
Tony Newton – bas kitara
Sean Elg – bobni


Slovene version:
Oče premnogih velikanskih kitarskih fraz, ki utelešajo lik in delo neminljive zapuščine Judas Priest, to je K. K. Downing – lahko rečemo ‘izgnan za vselej iz raja’ (beri: matične zasedbe), velja za enega najpomembnejših kitaristov klasičnega heavy metala, ki je utemeljeval odskočno desko kasnejšega razcveta mnogih  žanrskih (pod)zvrsti. Na svetu danes praktično ni metalske skupine (ne glede na zvrst metala), ki ne bi bila navdahnjena nad delom Judas Priest. In posredno likom tega imenitnega kitarista, ki velja za esencialnega gradnika biblije o metalu.   

K. K. Downing, se s svojo zasedbo KK’s Priest vrača! V žepu ima svež studijski album. Drugi po vrsti. Pomenljivo poimenovan. »Grešnik jaše znova!« Grešnik se vrača. Z vsem gnevom! Potem, ko so mu Judas Priest resnično zapahnili prav vsa vrata za potencialno vrnitev v ekipo, kamor roko na srce in ne glede na vse ‘otročarije’ med Judas Priest in njim, ki smo jim priča vse od njegovega izstopa leta 2011, neizpodbitno sodi, ostaja legendarni in v povesti metala eden najpomembnejših kitaristov še bolj zagrizeno odločen, da pokaže svojim nekdanjim pajdašem, kdo je tisti, ki prinaša na plano pravo prvobitno kitarsko frazo. Kdo je torej glavni.

In res. K. K. Downing je na novem KK’s Priest albumu dostavil še več rušilno uničujočih decibelov, kot jih sproža odlični predhodnik oziroma studijski prvenec »Sermons of the Sinner« (2021, RockLine recenzija). Po plati zagrizenosti, lahko rečemo tudi absolutne komponistične in produkcijske ‘sproščenosti’ v slogi ‘briga me’, je novi album dejansko še bolj prepričljiv glede na predhodnika. Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens ostaja za Downinga najbolj logična rešitev. Najprimernejša izmed razpoložljivih. Tako rekoč naravna izbira. ‘Ripper’ še vedno ubija z vokalno višino in širino ter presunljivim razvojem in prenosom moči, ki zagotavljajo občo rušilnost oziroma jo v kombinaciji z ostrino prvinske rifaže dodatno ojačujejo. ‘Ripper’ je skrajno razdiralen na novem albumu. V slehernem verzu. V srednjih legah orje z dodajanjem grlenosti, v višavjih reže z ostrino britve čiste vokalne avtoritativnosti. Vokalna izjemnost, ki ji težko najdeš primerjavo. In kilometrina seveda. Neprecenljiv dodatek, da lahko novi sveženj izjemno nabrušenih avtorskih jurišnic, sije z vso intenziteto tudi na »The Sinner Rides Again«.

K. K. Downing izraža svojo izjemno zavzetost zlasti v ‘mid-eight’ pasažah, ko stopajo v ospredje njegove solaže. To je njegovo igrišče. Igralnik, ki ga do potankosti obvladuje. Polje, kjer se iskri njegov unikatni kitarski karakter. Solaže ostajajo strupen unikat! In opominjajo. Na zlate čase Judas Priest. Če smo včasih govorili kako sta s kolegom Tiptonom skozi sredino osemdesetih izpilila delo dveh kitar do potankosti, je Downing v kitaristu AJ Millsu našel ustrezni vzporednik, ki odlično parira v tem elementu tudi pri KK’s Priest. Soliranje na tem albumu je torej najslajša možna češnja na torti!

»The Sinner Rides Again« je (in to ni nobeno presenečenje) priključek klasičnemu Judas Priest albumu imenovanem »Painkiller«. To je bilo pričakovano. In tudi zaželeno. Skladba One More Shot At Glory sije v vsej himničnosti. Asociacij že po samem naslovu skladbe na neko drugo skladbo iz obdobja albuma »Painkiller« pa pri tem ne zmanjka. Epskost in bombastika, ki jo razvije je neposredno primerljiva in izjemna. Nemara še v višjem iztržku, saj je odpeljana v srednje hitrem tempu, a podkovana s skrajno strupenim riffom.

Tudi na »The Sinner Rides Again« je ob vsej neukročenosti in rušilnem zasunu, k čemur doprinese veliko tudi odlična produkcija Jacoba Hansena, je pod ‘tančico’ v dobri meri spisana povest o Judas Priest, kar je logično. To je bilo logično že na predhodniku. Pravzaprav prinaša vsaka skladba asociacijo na različna obdobja delovanja skupine skozi sedemdeseta in osemdeseta in seveda kasnejše čase. Denimo Hymn 66. Ta prinaša v triku vokalnih linij neposredno asociacijo na Dissident Aggressor iz davnega leta 1977, četudi je preoblečena v modno estetiko produkcije novih časov.

»The Sinner Rides Again« je torej klasičen heavy metal album. Pravo učno čtivo. Razvija epsko bombastiko, demonski magnet okulta in pogube, pravo dozo muzikalnosti skozi gradacijo kompozicij, na trenutke pravo upepeljujočo hitrost in atomsko razdiralnost. Klasične kitarske fraze, ki za seboj ne puščajo preživelih. Drugače niti ne sme (in ne more) biti. Zanimivo bo opazovati kako bodo na odlični The Sinner Rides Again odgovorili z novim izdelkom Downingovi nekdanji pajdaši Judas Priest.

K. K. Downing in njegovi KK Priest so torej postali neizpodbitna stalnica. »The Sinner Rides Again« je perfekten priključek že tako odličnemu prvencu in seveda k vsemu pod kar je podpisano ime Judas Priest. Dobro je da se je Kenneth po lepem svežnju let, ko smo ga pogrešali na sceni (s kakršnim koli novim avtorskim materialom) vrnil v slogu, kot se od njega pričakuje! In to že drugič ter v zelo kratkem času. Naj s takšnim zaletom jezdi dalje. Še na mnoga leta.

Avtor: Aleš Podbrežnik


KK’s Priest – “The Sinner Rides Again” (Napalm Records, 2023)
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