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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Glenn Tipton

Baptizm of Fire

Review by Gary Hill

This first solo album by Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton is a fine piece of work. It takes the Priest sounds one expects to find here and updates them, bringing new angles and directions to them. The album also brings a new role to Tipton, that of lead singer. The disc was three years in the making, and, through that time, Tipton`s vocal skills and confidence grew. Truly, his vocal range does not include the flashy showmanship of former bandmate Rob Halford, but the vocal style does have parallels. Tipton puts in a very professional effort in that direction.

Musicians featured on the album include (the late) Cozy Powell (ELP, Black Sabbath), Billy Sheehan, Robert Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies and Ozzy Osbourne) and bass guitar legend John Entwhistle. The lineup for the majority of the album is Tipton, C. J. de Villar and Shannon Larkin (Ugly Kid Joe). Where the personnel varies from this format, it is noted on the track by track review.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Hardcore
This track is quite like the harder edged Priest of recent years. Although forgoing the soaring vocal pyrotechnical displays, Tipton`s vocals do call to mind Rob Halford`s Priest work. The lyrics on this one point up the perils of an addiction to pornography by delving into the psyche of a man who is falling further and further into this cycle. Tipton is joined on this number by Robert Trujillo and Brooks Wackerman.

Paint it Black
This psychedelic Stones classic is given a metal treatment here, and the track features the same musicians as on Hardcore. Guitar tones which work toward capturing that psychedelic texture help to preserve much of the spirit of the original version, while a driving rhythm section brings the track firmly into the metal realm. This is a very solid cover, capturing much of the charm of the original, and creating a new identity for it at the same time.

Enter the Storm
Running more in the mode of a moody Priest ballad, Enter the Storm is built on an arrangement which (from a metal perspective) is quite interesting. The piece contains elements of modern alternative/metal bands like Alice in Chains, and a break that is Metallica influenced.

Fuel Me Up
A song about drug addiction, the footnote states "famous last sentiments which have unfortunately taken many from us at a great loss". Musically, this number flirts with Metallicaesque chord progressions and vocals wandering between death metal/ industrial and classic Priest modes.

Extinct
Featuring Billy Sheehan and Cozy Powell, a moody, picked guitar intro and first verse give way to a song strongly based on a dark metal/thrash mode. Interesting elements include moments of progish overtones (used somewhat as icing on a cake) and a chorus influenced by Alice In Chains and bands of that ilk.

Baptizm of Fire
Commencing somewhat in the mode of Steeler from Judas Priest`s British Steel album, Baptizm of Fire is an enthusiastic rocker. The bass work on the cut is outstanding and the arrangement contains some neo-classical moments. This musical composition is an impressive showcase calling to mind metallic guitar virtuosos like Malmsteen. With the exception one mildly psychotic verse of lyrics, this is an instrumental and features the same lineup as the previous track.
The Healer
After another intro in a Priest balladic mode, the song returns to a more stable metal ground. The vocals here are rather Halfordesque. Featuring John Entwhistle and Cozy Powell, the piece seems to combine Black Sabbath and Judas Priest elements into a considerably strong number.
Cruise Control
Using driving on cruise control as a metaphor for life, ("set your course and let it go, put your life in cruise control") a no-frills metal approach makes up this song. Moments of the number call to mind Metallica`s "Seek and Destroy".

Kill or Be Killed
Containing traces of Motorhead influence, Kill or Be Killed utilizes a modern metal approach. This praise of the dog-eat-dog world is not for those with a distaste for metal.

Voodoo Brother
An intriguing guitar intro (seeming to combine elements of fusion with metal) gives way to a solid rocker. At various times, the track shows off different influences. Moments are quite metallic, while other sections are simply more basic rock. Still other sections show alternative leanings. This piece, with Robert Trujillo, Brooks Wackerman and Whitfield Crane, has some very interesting moments.

Left For Dead
"You can live your life of ease, if you obey the heirarchy, I never could see, I never knew why, I shouldn`t stand and speak my mind". This is a song about standing up for what you believe in, no matter the cost. There is guitar work on this track which almost sounds like banjo at times. Starting off as a folky ballad, eventually the piece kicks into a definite classic rock sort of mode. Left For Dead is a nice change of pace from the rest of the album.
 
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