I’m kind of in a bad way right now, and it’s exam season. Despite this, I’m going to try to keep the ball rolling. Here’s a short piece on the different eras of one of my favourite bands, Judas Priest.
I think Judas Priest’s biggest time in the spotlight (definitely their biggest time for sales) was from British Steel (1980) up to Turbo (1986), at which point they got too commercial and then crashed with Ram it Down in 1988 (An album I still really like.) After that we got Painkiller (1991), but Halford must have still been interested in spiralling outward, because shortly after he exited the band and started a solo career. (Not on purpose, there was an issue with the label, but he really wanted to do solo work)
Back in the beginning, Rocka Rolla (1974) to around Stained Class (1978), they were considered by some to be a band with an experimental style. The kind of early metal that still mixed with the blues and was still called rock (check Dreamer Deceiver). The pinnacle of this sound, I think most would agree, was Stained Class. Afterwards Hell Bent for Leather dropped; the transition into the British Steel era.
When Halford left after Painkiller, the band died. There was no Judas Priest from 1992-1995. It was during those exact years that Halford’s solo band Fight ran. Other ex-Priest members weren’t slouching either. Scott Travis actually joined Fight, and Tiptonn recorded material that would later become Baptizm of Fire (1997) and Edge of the World (2006). It was around then that the band decided to get back together. They had everyone except for a singer, (Halford would move on to 2wo in 1994 and then “Halford” in 1999) so they started auditioning. One day Scott Travis found someone who had a crazy vocal range, and even knew how to perform all the Priest classics.
And thus, in 1996, the so called “Ripper era” was born. With Halford gone, Glenn Tipton took the reins (I think) as the leader. A year later Jugulator came out, and it was a little intense, but it made sense after Painkiller. Demolition (2001) was probably the biggest black sheep of the Judas Priest discography, but I have a theory about that. K.K. Downing wrote a lot less of the songs on it (5/13), which meant that Glenn Tipton penned 60% of the album without him. And compare it to Batptizm of Fire! They sound very similar. With Tim Owens as the vocalist it’s true that Priest sounded different, but it wasn’t because of him. It was because the writing team of Halford, K.K., and Tipton, went from 3 to 2, and then almost to 1. (This may have been the beginning of the end for K.K.)
Since Halford returned in 2003, I feel like the band has looking back and trying to figure themselves out. Angel of Retribution (2004) was highly retrospective, referencing a lot of older songs and styles, while adding a new touch. Released in 2008, Nostradamus was an experimental step in an interesting direction. I think with a bit more editing and research it could have been great, but it comes off a little longwinded. Redeemer of Souls, like Retribution, feels like a look back, but also a look forward with songs like, “The Beginning of the End” and “Going Down in Flames”.
The new album, Firepower, looks highly energetic. It sounds like a fusion of Halford’s Resurrection, Jugulator, and Angel of Retribution. They aren’t messing around this time around. Although it’s hard to tell with a 15 second clip, I feel like they’re returning to a more natural direction.
For me, their best years are modern Priest. I like to see what they have been doing most recently, and I want to make the best of the newer albums while the band is still kicking. When Ian Hill was asked what his favourite was, he said, “Ask anybody that, I always say ‘the last album’.” Hill explains proudly, “Which at that moment in time it is the new album. Just because we’ve spent so much time on it, you know? But it is” (Macek). This sense of pride In the end, the “best era” for Judas Priest should be the one that matches your own tastes best. And don’t be afraid to check them all out from time to time as well.
Judas Priest has been one of my favourite bands since around August of 2014 when Redeemer of Souls came out to . I listened to them pretty seriously until around early 2017. I still listen to them here and there, but my main band at the moment is Falling Up.
I do have another story in mind, but it’s going to take a bit of work. Hopefully I get it out later this week.
This my a review of the new Pentakill album. I’d consider it a “quick review.”
I might be impressed with this album if I hadn’t already been a metal head for three years. On the surface it sounds like Iron Maiden with the singer of Avantasia, all wrapped up in prog. I can understand if someone enjoys it, but as someone who knows what they’re hearing, I can tell it’s 60% Progressive metal, 10% Heavy Metal, and 30% advertisement.
The Progressive Metal
Whoever wrote this was clearly into the prog side of things. Prog is very hit-or miss. For example, Maiden only touches on it, using it as fuel for their music, rather than a base. The other side of prog is the one that gives the genre its bad name. It’s the gaudy, arrogant sound. This album falls into the second category. Just listen to the repulsive seven minute “Blade of the Ruined King” and tell me how you feel afterwards.
The Heavy Metal
It’s okay, but honestly the guatar solos are rock tier. That’s not bad, but Metal solos tell a story and are irreplaceable. Rock solos sound cool and change all the time during live performance. These solos are rock, not metal.
This is basically the same as most pop songs. At the core, this album was made to sell skins in League of Legends and make its audience go “wow! I can’t believe they made a whole album!” Seeing as I did not react this way, I guess I lie outside the target market, as will most other metalheads.
This album is decent, but not good enough to purchase a hard copy. I don’t even want to listen to it twice, because the prog causes me metal anguish.
It’s like a less artistic version of Far From Reality, a more artistic prog band that mixes classical-style piano with progressive guitars. I would listen to their only album over this every single time if given the chance; Reminiscence by Far From Reality is a clean 8/10.
Ellie Goulding used to be one of my two “current” artists. (For those who don’t know, I generally only get really into two bands or artists at once. It used to be Ellie Goulding and Rise Against in my mid teenage years.) That’s because Ellie used to be a good artist. Actually, she might still be a good artist, but she seems to want to hide her talent.
What do I mean? Well, consider her new album, appropriately named Delirium. It sold about one-quarter what her previous album, Halcyon did in its first year.
I’m going to tell you why, so don’t worry.
See, Ellie decided to take a different route with her music this time. She decided to let her writers do more of the work. I can’t seem to find the quote, and it’s been removed from Wikipedia. But this is the problem with the album. It’s only a fraction of Ellie Goulding. It feels about as shallow as a Calvin Harris album, really.
Having writers isn’t a bad thing. The number one artist of all time had writers too. Michael Jackson really only came up with beats, chorus, hooks, and a lot of the verses. Yeah, he did a lot of the work, and the writers just built on it.
I think Ellie Goulding used to be the same way, she had writers for her first two albums and things were fine.
So, let’s dive right in to Delirium.
Delirium is a long album, sixteen tracks, and then more if you get the Deluxe version. I’ve listened to it all, many times. I actually liked this album a lot for about a month. Then, I put it down, and never returned to it.
Delirium neither brings anything new to the pop table, nor does it do anything that’s already been done particularly well. There are a few good tracks though. Namely:
Something in the Way You Move
Lost and Found
That’s a clean 5/21. I’ll give her some runner-ups for good measure, Keep On Dancin’, Around U, We Can’t Move to This, Holding On For Life, I Do What I Love, and Outside, even though it’s not new to this album and is really Calvin Harris’s song.
So, 11/21. 52%. The thing is, Goulding could have cut the fat, axed the ten or so weak entries and left with a strong eleven song album. But instead, we get a lot of bloat that sounds like everything else we’ve been listening out of the top 40 for the last half decade.
Let’s start at the beginning with Delirium into Aftertaste. I think starting an album with a cool intro track is awesome. Judas Priest’s Screaming for Vengeance did it, Icon for Hire’s Scripted did it, and so did Halford’s Crucible.
Actually, I’ve never seen a non-rock album with a short intro track, so props to Ellie. It’s actually great for the album listener like myself. If I’m feeling it, I can let it play, but if I just want to get to the music, I can skip forward to Aftertaste.
Aftertaste is a great song actually comparing a break up to an after taste. Something in the Way You Move was actually a single, and it keeps with Ellie’s habit of writing positive sounding songs that are both not at all positive in nature, and also a bit cryptic. Lost and Found follows up too, sounding almost like a song right out of her first album, just a little tune up. Paradise is a very calm and mature sounding song, that also contains a lot of strife.
In fact, give me a second. Ten. Ten of her songs are about break ups. That’s probably why I got so bored with it, she just sings about the same thing over and over! The Greatest and Army are basically the same song!
But before I dive into the bad, we’ll talk about Devotion. Again, Ellie does what she proves she’s good at with Lights. She combines folk and electronic, opening with an acoustic intro. Devotion is a mystical, light and engrossing song. It seems to have been written in the same vein as Beating Heart, my favourite Ellie Goulding song. This album is almost worth buying just for this track. Almost.
I now will explain exactly why Delirium is the only Ellie Goulding album I don’t own.
Plain and simple, Delirium is shallow. There’s no heart in it, aside from three or four tracks. It’s a little better than the empty albums that Calvin Harris pumps out, but it still feels very surface level. Not once does Ellie touch on an interesting or unique topic. Consider the unique track, The Writer, or even Human from Bright Lights. Or even the brooding and wrathful Don’t Say a Word from Halcyon. I hadn’t heard anything like it before! But more on those after.
Delirium is like most cheap pop. It’s front loaded, you get the initial thrill but then are quickly left bored, and maybe a little regretful. Or, in my case, disappointed. With Delirium, Ellie Goulding intentionally went for a pure pop album complete with writers, and sold her soul to capitalism.
See, that’s really what bugs me about Ellie. She’s always been a little bit vain. I hope that the hundreds of thousands of lost sales is a wake-up call, because I used to like her music.
Why don’t we explore her previous albums for a bit?
I first encountered Ellie Goulding in a Battlefield 3 YouTube video by Birgirpall. I can’t find it anymore, but the song itself was a Drum and Bass remix of Starry Eyed. I loved it. I found it, ripped it and listened to it over and over on my Walkman mp3 player.
Then, I delved deeper into the artist, this Ellie Goulding. It wasn’t long before I owned Lights, but I had already listened to all of her songs. Where were the rest of them? So, I had to return to the CD store and pick up Bright Lights too.
During this time, Ellie was trying to play herself off as some generic folk or indie pop artist. Really, she’s neither. I’m sure it was some sort of producer thing.
This album is very consistent. There were very few songs that I didn’t like, but also very few that I really loved. Of course I loved my first encounter’s original version, Starry Eyed, but there were more too. In fact, Starry Eyed wasn’t even my favourite track. Here’s a list of the cream of the crop from Bright Lights.
Under the Sheets
Lights (of course)
To make my point here, compare:
Fight fires in your best clothes,
Touch skin with your eyes closed
Chase thunder with the volume down
Pack a suitcase, wander to the next town
But tonight I’m gonna lose it all
Playing with fire, I was the first to fall
Heart is sinking like a cannonball
Baby kill it, what’re you waiting for?
Can you guess which song is from which album? The first is I’ll Hold My Breath from Lights, and the second, Something in the Way You Move from Delirium. Both definitely read like Ellie Goulding, but one actually feels like a work of art.
Finally, I’ll talk of my favourite track. Even now, about four years later, this song still rings feverishly in my ears. Rolling bass, and a frantic intro played on strings makes it clear, this song is a little off. It’s a real experience, listening to it, and I used to do it on repeat. “So will take away my feeling, I will be an Animal.”
As you can see, the list of good tracks is far longer than Delirium. Better yet, there were only a couple that I actually disliked! I got bored of Guns and Horses and the Writer and I Wish I Stayed were a little too wispy for me. That leaves 14/17. That’s 82% of the album that was great!
Now, Ellie Goulding has hit her teenage angst phase. At the age of twenty-five. She’s dressing in leather and showing off her body! Oh my! No longer is Ellie playing the innocent folk girl, but it seems she’s pushed a little too far the other way.
Goulding was likely still struggling with her image. It’s not bad, she’s only on her second album, right? I mean, it took Judas Priest six years and five albums to discover that leather and studs were the way to go. (Although to great effect, they’re hailed as the first rock band to use the leather look.)
Looks aside, the album is also pretty edgy. It’s a dark and moody album, and it seems that Goulding has dug really deep into herself. Many of the tracks are striking and personal. I actually feel cold listening to it.
From the original version, I really only liked the opening track, but I also didn’t mind My Blood, Halcyon, Figure 8, and Atlantis. The real fun begins with the Deluxe album. Halcyon Days must have been made little while later. The music all fits, but it feels like it’s coming from a different, more positive place.
If you’re going to get Halcyon, get the deluxe Halcyon Days. Here’s what I liked!
Don’t Say a Word
In My City
Without Your Love
Goodness Gracious (It’s so cheesy, but I love it)
You My Everything (Grammar my everything, but I’ll give it a pass.)
Quite a good collection, only two of which are on the original. So, 14/23, or 61%. Hmm. Well, I do admit that this album wasn’t really my cup of tea, although these numbers do bode poorly for the next album. I’m sure other’s liked more than two of the original tracks. Watch, let’s cut out the originals out of the calculation, including the two I enjoyed. Also, note that I cut the covers and alternate versions. 8/10, or 80%. See, that’s pretty good.
It was these bonus tracks that excited me for her third album. The smash hits from disc all had a couple extra writers on them. I thought, hey! If her next album is like these three tracks, it’ll be amazing! I thought that these newer songs were like a preview of what was coming. And I was dead wrong.
So, Ritual, In My City, and Without Your Love are three very different songs with two things in common. First, they are clearly Ellie’s work. Second, they sound amazing. In My City is wistful and dreamy, and the mystical drums in Without Your Love take me to a whole other place.
I promised to get to Don’t Say a Word, and so here we go. The song is still my definitive new sound system bass test, alongside Between the Hammer and the Anvil. If I can’t feel the rolling base, or hear the depth of it all, it’s not good enough! Don’t Say a Word does one of my favourite things. It has a slow brooding intro that rewards the patient listener with a thunderous, layered climax. It took me a few listens to realize just how many layers this piece has! Check it out if you haven’t.
Finally, three of these songs, You My Everything, Stay Awake, and Flashlight, are clearly Drum and Bass. Ellie has an amazing voice for DnB and other electronic music. I mean, just listen to Outside by Calvin Harris, or even better Fall into the Sky by Zedd! Honestly, I think her next album should be a little more electronic. Take some tips from Zedd haha.
It seems that Ellie Goulding has been steadily dropping in quality. Also, she appears to have abandoned shirts, so she might still be in the teenager stage.
Lights – 82%
Halcyon – 61%
Delirium – 52%
Now, that’s just a measure of how much of the album’s tracks were really good. Personally, I think that despite disliking a majority of Halcyon, it was her best album. It felt like we had a clear window into Ellie Goudling and her emotions, whereas with Lights it was sort of an act, and Delirium, it was sort of not really Ellie Goulding.
I hope you enjoyed this, we’ll have to do it again some time.
Looks like she went on a writing and dating hiatus. Most artists love their art and tend to avoid breaks. Not sure what to think of her nowadays, really.
Also, expect a lot more music content on the blog. Music is my primary source of literary inspiration, it’s about time it made it to my blog.