Judas Priest - Nostradamus (4 stars)

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Judas Priest - Nostradamus

(Columbia)

METAL

Rob Halford’s howl and tracks as powerful as ‘Breaking the Law’ and ‘Painkiller’ have cemented Judas Priest’s status as a driving force that helped shape the entire metal genre. Formed back in the early 70s vocalist Halford left officially in 1993, which was followed by several unspectacular years with Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens as frontman. Halford was welcomed back into the fold in 2003, releasing Angel of Retribution, now they’ve embarked on their most ambitious project yet, a two disc metal concept album detailing the life of 16th century alchemist and seer Nostradamus over 100 minutes and 23 tracks (including musical interludes).

Of course it’s bloated and pompous, but as a gloriously over the top bombastic slice of heavy metal majesty, it’s a masterpiece in a league of its own. It may veer into Phantom of the Opera territory on disc two but it needs to be appreciated as whole to fully recognise its scope (not that there aren’t stand out tracks - ‘Prophecy’, ‘Conquest’ and title track ‘Nostradamus’ for example).

Orchestra’s rumble, string sections stir and heavy metal thunder is delivered with the appropriate aplomb to create an ambitious and remarkable piece of musical storytelling.

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