You’ve read all the stories and comments online and you’ve likely heard the first few songs released from the debut from KK’s Priest, the new band formed by longtime Judas Priest guitarist KK Downing. And you might be wondering about the rest of the new record that’s releasing mere days from now. So if you’re wondering… let me say this as a decades long Priest fan, Sermons of the Sinner is the absolute real deal. That is – if you are expecting something that sounds like a classic Priest record.
The s/t track , which the band debuted last June, sets the tone for the record. It has Ripper Owens’ piercing vocals, lots of guitars and some killer bass work. It’s an undeniable sound that you’re going to recognize right away.
The guitars, the bass, the precision drums… what you hear on this track and on the other song released this past May, “Hellfire Thunderbolt” are what you’re going to find really on all of the cuts on this amazing release.
The 7th track on the record, for example, “Metal Through and Through” is a bluesy, driving song that then kicks it up midway through and brings in some massive guitar solos as KK and AJ Mills trade off for a good minute plus. We get more of these types of solos in the groovey “Sacerdote y Diablo” and “Return of the Sentinel.” In fact, one might say that there are significantly more solos on this record than you may have experienced on a number of Priest records. And that might actually be the point. “Return of the Sentinel,” which closes the record is actually a 9 minute track that goes through a number of different sonicscapes and changes, even giving listeners a bit of double bass drumming here and there and even an acoustic interlude.
“Hail for the Priest” is another flat out rocker that features some incredible riffing over a really impressive rhythm section that’s mixed so well. In fact, the production on this entire record is really top notch. Another thing I love about this track, and the record as a whole, is Tony Newton’s mind-blowing bass performance. An anthemic chorus and powerful vocal from Ripper makes “Hail for the Priest” a shoe-in for the live set as well.
Songs like “Wild and Free,” and “Raise Your Fists” aren’t going to win any literary awards for lyrics but there’s no doubt that KK’s Priest understands their target audience and this audience doesn’t particularly care for Bob Dylanesque lyrics or any of the newfound political themes that seem to drowning more modern metal. If anything, KK’s Priest is the antidote to the overzealous, overreaching, self-congratulating droning drivel that seems to have enrobed itself far too much in the current world of metal. “We’re rule breakers, hellraisers… we’re wild and free!” – that’s KK’s answer to the current climate and you can’t help but sing along with gusto. KK brings us back to when metal was fun and rebellious. Some of you might remember those days and younger listeners need to be introduced to that facet of metal culture that seems all but lost in the Gen Z market.
So what’s the overall verdict here? Does this sound like classic Priest? Yup. Does it maybe sound like British Steel? It definitely does at times, and Sad Wings… and Screaming for Vengeance. But is it still original? It absolutely is. And that’s really why this record hits the mark so well. It’s so familiar, yet fresh at the exact same time. KK and friends really hit the sweet spot here. I can’t wait to catch these songs live.
“Sermons of the Sinner” releases on October 1, 2021 and you can pre-order the record, including signed copies right here.