Judas Priest ready to unleash 'Firepower' on the Alamo City

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Courtesy: Justin Borucki

When he puts on the black leather and the biker jacket an walks on the stage, there is no mistaking Rob Halford and that he is doing what he was meant to do. That image of him riding the Harley on stage is a statement that tells you all you need to know about his musical attitude and about the "Firepower" he's about to unleash on an audience.

But after over four decades behind the mic as the front man for Judas Priest, Rob says that 2018 is the best of times for him and the band, and they're not about to slow down.

"It's the best of places to be at. I can't begin to describe this amazing journey we're on right now," Halford said during a recent phone interview. "You become a little reflective at this point in your life. It's a way to use nostalgia and to use reflections of the past to motivate you into the future. Here we are with our 18th studio album 'Firepower,' which is a great title and we're surrounding it with theses great metal tunes that Priest is making in 2018."


"Firepower" erupted on the musical landscape upon its release in March, as it debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and has garnered the band some of its best reviews, with lead-off track "Lightning Strike" and "Spectre" as the lead singles. Many Priest fans were ecstatic to hear a fresh take on that classic Priest sound - a modern day "British Steel."

Rob said it was key for the band to kick "Firepower" off with a statement and "Lightning Strike" hits the fans with a heavy metal punch much like all those classic Priest albums.

"It's very important for any band, no matter what stage in your career you are, that the first two or three tracks that come out of the speakers or earbuds have the message and the statement to your fans that everything is alright and everything is in its place plus more," he said. "From what I've read on the social platforms, our fans are loving 'Firepower' and this is what they were hoping for and then you follow it up with the rest of the album then everybody should be hearing our message."

Returning to the fold is producer Tom Allom, who was at the helm on all of those classic Judas Priest albums like "British Steel," "Screaming for Vengeance," and 1988's "Ram It Down," which was their last collaboration on a studio album.

Rob said the band walks a fine line in holding on to that classic Priest sound while trying to bring something new to the table. He said they are always trying to set the metal trends.

"A lot of it is instinctive as far as where you need to go next in your new metal adventure," he said. "I recall when we were prepping for the new album that we talked about doing the best classic heavy metal Priest album we could. To hear those words come out of my mouth, it sounds simple, but it's not. You have to work hard to get all those components in the right place. To get to the end result requires a multitude of effort from not only the band, but the production team and our label. We're all part of this. I think as far as display of what Priest is able to do now all of these years later, it's a blessing and a testament to what you can achieve if your heart, mind and spirit and all of these ingredients of determination and self belief are united can make something very special."

What Rob and the band have delivered is nothing short of awe inspiring.

The 14-track "Firepower" features an energy that shines through the album that Rob said is because Allom and co-producer Andy Sneap insisted that the band play live in the studio.

"We needed to really feel the music and the best way to do that is to play live together," Rob said. "It was so much fun to make this record. This was the first time in a long time that we were playing together in the studio. When you play live together, you get the little nuances in the songs and it sounded so much more powerful. This record is definitely made to be played live."

Judas Priest concludes their Firepower North American Tour TONIGHT at the Freeman Coliseum. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS.

The show begins at 8 p.m.


When talking to Rob, you immediately get a sense that San Antonio holds a special place in his heavy metal heart, especially a local DJ that helped turn the Alamo City into the "heavy metal capital of the South."

"I always reference this wonderful man named Joe Anthony when I think about San Antonio," he said. "When Priest came to Texas for the first time, Joe came to see us and told us about his radio show (on KMAC). I couldn't believe it that Joe had been playing all the Priest music from Day 1. We just sat in his studio and talked. He had this creaky old chair and he'd put the needle on the record and it was the simplest and purest form of love of playing heavy metal music. That's a memory that always sticks with me, along with fierce and unforgiving infusion of heavy metal mania there in San Antonio that spreads throughout all of Texas. That's something that everyone in the band cherishes when we roll into town."

Judas Priest first visited San Antonio on June 21, 1977, when they performed at the Freeman Coliseum on the Sin After Sin Tour.


With "British Steel" recently celebrating its 38th birthday, Rob says the seminal Priest album still has as much impact, not only on the heavy metal scene, but to the band that wrote it and still influences them to this day.

"When you listen to 'Breaking the Law' or 'Livin' After Midnight' and those songs from so many years ago, they still have the ability to connect and create emotional feelings and have a message that they relate to. Priest fans, old and new, are still getting something out of those songs. That's the joy of music. It's endless. It's infinity in its reach. I love that album as many Priest fans do. It was a bit of a game changer to a great extent in the way that it was very strip down bare in terms of song components. The guts of the songs in what makes the song work were displayed in a very special, unique way. It's an important record in the catalog of Judas Priest."

In a moment of reflection, Rob tips his hat, so to speak, to the millions of Judas Priest fans the world over who have helped a kid from Walsall make his heavy metal dreams a reality, and the intoxication of playing live is something that is never lost on the legendary front man.

"If you've had the great luck to be a working musician for all these years after all those things that life throws at you, it is a great display of the true heavy metal spirit," he said. "You can really feel it in this music. That's why I can't wait to share this music live. When the band and the fans are in front of each other, it's the most incredible feeling in the world. It's something that you can't talk about. You have to be there in the moment to understand what this heavy metal community is all about."

Judas Priest concludes their Firepower North American Tour TONIGHT at the Freeman Coliseum. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS.

The show begins at 8 p.m.