|1. Machine Man|
|2. One On One|
|3. Hell Is Home|
|4. Jekyll And Hyde|
|5. Close To You|
|6. Devil Digger|
|8. In Between|
|9. Feed On Me|
|11. Lost And Found|
|13. Metal Messiah|
I'm a die-hard fan, but I wasn't big on the last one, Jugulator. The live album that followed, '98 Live Meltdown, won me over in a big way, however. Singer Rob Halford quit almost a decade ago (his last gig with the Priest was in Toronto in August of '91), and Tim "Ripper" Owens took over from him in the late 90's. So, to get you up to speed, Jugulator was OK. I'd give it 5.5 out of 10. Ripper's got an amazing voice (reportedly better than Rob's these days), but the lyrics were juvenile and the music was a tad monotonous. Demolition, the new album, is much better, and that's only after three listens.
The lyrics are still pretty juvenile in spots ("Don't access the site/or beware his megabyte/no virus scan/detects the man" from "Cyberface"), but on some tracks we're getting back to respectability! Besides, with Halford insisting on singing endless tributes to the Power and Glory of Metal, he's not doing much better.
The sound and production of the album is still similar to Jugulator. The guitars are good and chunky, the bass, usually lacking on Priest albums, is in your face, and Scott Travis is seriously kickin' it on the drum kit. The guitars and vocals sound a tad too processed, though. A little too much tinkering with the effects racks. Ripper's not screaming as much as he used to. I imagine his voice is already starting to wear, considering the great job he did on tour. Still, he rips it out for a couple tracks and it's very welcome.
Songwriting-wise, the band are coming up with much more interesting riffs than last time. Many of these riffs would have been at home on some of the legendary Priest recordings from ages past. Some are current and fresh sounding. The vocals are so much more melodic! The songs are more varied: they're finally slowing down and adding some acoustic guitar occasionally again. A track like "Close To You" is reminicient of stuff like "A Touch Of Evil".
Sadly, Mark Wilkinson isn't doing their album covers anymore. Maybe Iron Maiden have him working overtime drawing new Eddies, or maybe Priest just want to move on. I'll miss his art.
Anyhow, I really do like this album quite a bit. I know it's just going to continue to grow on me, and I think all Priest fans who enjoyed albums like Painkiller or Screaming For Vengeance should try it.
Let's get to the real reason you're looking at this limited version while we're at it: the bonus tracks! Both are studio tracks from Priest's Japanese CD single for "Bullet Train" in 1998. Rapid Fire is made even MORE rapid, if that's possible. It's similar to the live version on '98 Meltdown. Green Manalishi is slowed down to a killer groove, very different from the live version. Both are amazing.