|Review: Judas Priest - Jugulator|
Label: CMC International
Year released: 1997
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: February 28, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 3.02/5 (60.41%) (49 Votes)
As I look at the reviews I’ve done, I see I have not rated anything lower than a 4 out of 5, and I always hate reviewers who love everything, even more than the ones who hate everything. This is an inevitable result of the MP3 revolution – if I don’t like the sound of something, I don’t buy the damn album. I’m not a big mucky-muck ‘zine guy who gets free shit from labels. If I did, I’d have lots of stuff to trash.
Okay, enough ranting. At hand is the album that cut Priest’s nuts off and threw them in the disposal. "Jugulator" was the long-awaited follow-up to the stellar "Painkiller" and also the debut of new singer Tim Owens. Expectations were high: Could Owens fill Rob Halford’s shoes? Could the band top or even equal "Painkiller"? The answer, in the form of this CD, was a big fat ‘NO’. I remember reading glowing reviews of this in guitar mags when it came out, which is very funny in retrospect, as guitar-wise this album is rather bereft. I was hyped to get this, and opened it reverently, checking out the very cool cover art and the nice looking package. I eagerly put it in the CD player and cranked it up, settling in for the ride.
Now this isn’t an album that smacks you in the face with how horrible it is, this isn’t Viking Crown. No, this is a CD where halfway through you find yourself reading something or watching TV, ignoring the music entirely. Then you notice that you’re tuning it out, pick up the jewel case and stare at it, thinking ‘This is Judas Priest?’ This album is not wretched, not wincingly awful, it’s blah. How Tipton and Downing could take six years and a shitload of money and produce and album this tedious is a modern mystery. This is an album where, if you played it backwards, you’d hear Satan snoring.
The only two spots that perk up the album at all are "Death Row" which has a pretty cool riff and a memorable chorus, and "Cathedral Spires" which is an OK ballad-type number that is marred by being so obviously derivative of "Sad Wings Of Destiny" and so very inferior. The rest of the album plods along at a relentless mid-pace with droning downtuned guitar riffs that studiously avoid anything hooky or interesting, the trademark Downing/Tipton leadwork is nowhere to be found here. Actually, there might be a solo in there somewhere, but I can’t remember and I’m not listening to it again. The whole is like one tremendously long, boring song that refuses to end. Generally, if the end of a CD elicits a mental ‘Thank god that’s over’ it is not a quality CD.
As for Ripper, he may be a great singer, but you wouldn’t know it from this album. The vocal lines are all midrange and growly, with none of the operatic wail of Halford-era Priest songs. "Cathedral Spires" actually allows him to sing a little, and he sounds pretty good. The way the rest of the album is written, Fred Durst could have sung it, or even the dude from Grave Digger.
So, "Jugulator" is not a good album at all. One good track and one OK track do not an album make. It sounds like the band wanted to try and cash in on the "modern metal" wave of the period (The metal Dark Age: 1992 – 1997) and make an album that would appeal to a younger audience and not just old Priest fans. In short, it smells like a sellout to move CDs, and it reeks. Any other band would get a slightly higher rating for this album: it is well-produced, and very heavy. I would say a young band with this album had promise if they could just learn to write a memorable song, and I’d give them a 2.5 or so. But this is frigging Judas Priest, and legends get held to higher standards. "Jugulator" is an insult to the Priest name, and the only reason I still have it is because used CD stores won’t ever take the thing. Avoid it.
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