KK Downing (and ‘Ripper’ Owens) do Priest in their own special way – ‘proper’ Metal!
Release Date: 29th September 2023
Label: Napalm Records
Format: digital / CD / vinyl
After 2021’s Sermons Of The Sinner, it’s inevitable that the aforementioned sinner (he/she/they) should return. And with KK leading the charge, it’s the return of the Flying V, wielded proudly in salute to the genre that KK loves so much and in memory to and acknowledgment of the fallen – Lemmy, Dio et al.
Former bonafide Priests, KK Downing and Tim Owens aka ‘Ripper’, lead the way accompanied by the second guitar of A.J. Mills and Tony Newton on bass and Sean Elg on drums. The latter pair is particularly formidable, setting up an impressively relentless pace that’s signaled in the opening pairing of Sons Of The Sentinel and Strike Of The Viper. Fire and fury are high on the agenda and it’s an inspirational, loin-girding burst from the blocks. Reap The Whirlwind (bearing little resemblance to Midge Ure singing about reaping the wild wind) finds Ripper channelling more of a dramatic Dio vocal, bossing proceedings and proving the ideal foil for the twin guitar battling.
And while the opening flurry is a breathless ten minutes, One More Shot At Glory continues with a heightened intensity – a fist-pumper of an anthem complete with mid song foot to the floor lead break of the sort you’d find in copious amounts on a Maiden album as they gallop furiously. Think Wishbone Ash or Thin Lizzy in a modern Metal cloak. Latest single Hymn 66 is a similar bedfellow to its predecessor, the tempos briefly held in check in favour of a lead-heavy stomp, yet more menacing with a demonic Ripper vocal. A reminder too that here’s an album that’s more than just an all guns blazing Metal onslaught.
Keeper Of The Graves keeps up the demonic presence with the introductory words half spoken over an atmospheric and evocative choral backing (perhaps a congregation of Metal loving monks was employed…) that sets an ominous mood. Not for long, as the searing riff takes over, letting rip in the same way as the title track sets a sinister and moody tone before and the title is screeched out while providing an audience participation chant-along moment at the same time.
The finale of Wash Away Your Sins runs from an acoustic passage and angsty vocal to a riff that’s not too distant a relative to Children Of The Grave and what’s now becoming the easily identifiable audience participation moment. KK shines again with another showcase to remind us, not that we need it, that he’s still aup there with the masters when it comes to legendary Metal axemen.
This is as authentic as it gets. Whether it’s called Priest or not, that’s just the reference point for the two main characters. The Sinner Rides Again is quality Metal from a band who certainly know what they’re doing. As the song says, they’ve pledged their souls in declaring their devotion to Metal. Leading the way, feet placed firmly on monitors, the Metal hordes will duly follow.