Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Review: Fight - K5 (The War of Words Demos)

Label: Metal God Entertainment

Released: January 8, 2008

At the time, Judas Priest's Painkiller seemed like a breath of fresh air. Ram It Down was a decent album, but not enough to assure metalheads that Turbo was a mistake Priest wouldn't make again. Painkiller, on the other hand, seemed like Priest had not only abandoned their pop metal ambitions, but were attempting to fuse their sound with the 80s underground metal that they helped influence earlier in that decade. But that was then. Now Painkiller shows a band struggling a bit for relevance without simply reliving their past. It was a noble effort, but their thrash and hardcore leanings (largely courtesy of new drummer Scott Travis' playing) never really gelled with the remnants of the old Judas Priest sound.

Three years later, Fight's War of Words gave Halford and Travis the opportunity to explore their higher energy approach unencumbered by the Judas Priest sound hanging over their heads. The result was even more refreshing than Painkiller seemed...and it's held up much better. The album generally sounds much more natural, because the new sound isn't being superimposed onto the past. However, War of Words had plenty of support behind it and the end product just may be a bit too polished.

Enter K5 14 years later. These are the demos that Fight recorded before it was cleaned up for radio, MTV and mass consumption. These raw sessions tap into the thrash and hardcore for which Halford and company formed Fight in the first place. K5 trims two and a half songs from the War of Words track list, but they're songs that had less of the new Fight sound. These are replaced by four songs that never made the original album, all of which are nice additions. "Jesus Saves," a track hidden in War of Words' final track, stands on its own for the first time on K5.

K5 is not essential, but for those of us who wanted to know what these songs sounded like before they were cleaned up to be sold, it's an interesting window and, in a sense, a better album that gets at the essence of what Halford was trying to achieve with Fight. While it might be construed as a filler release, just remember Judas Priest is working on a concept album about Nostradamus, so this is the best we're gonna get out of Halford for awhile.

Satriani: 7/10
Zappa: 6/10
Dylan: 6/10
Aretha: 7/10
Overall: 7/10



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Blogger Metal Mark said...

Painkiller wasn't the band struggling for relevance as much as it was the band trying to find an keep an audience. Ram it down and it's tour didn't go all that great and by 1990 a lot of the mid-tempo metal bands were falling fast. So they infused some speed metal leanings into it. I think it was slight and I think it worked. I liked the material from Fight and Halford plus I liked both far better than what Priest have done since Painkiller.

7:18 AM  

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