HALFORD

"Made of Metal" (Metal God Entertainment; 2010)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

You don't earn the moniker of "Metal God" for nothing and, with "Made of Metal," Rob Halford proves that he's still worthy of the title.

Packed solid with songs that could have easily fit on a Judas Priest CD from various eras, "Made of Metal" kicks serious ass for its entire running time and, in fact, closes with the heaviest of all, "The Mower," with its "Painkiller"-style vocals and driving, sludgy riffs.

Halford himself still sounds awesome, delivering the high notes, the low growls and (again) the demonic "Painkiller" roars. In fact, it's a little unnerving listening to the entire CD, most of which is sung in Halford's standard Priest voice, and then to hear the monster rumble of his "Painkiller" scream. The man definitely shows no signs of slowing down. The band sounds great, too, delivering memorable riffs, blistering leads and a fiery energy that burns throughout the CD.

Admittedly, there are some odd lyrical choices here. It's difficult not to smirk when Rob sings "He's the heavyweight champion of the world," in "Undisputed" and it's almost impossible to take any song with the lyric "It's a NASCAR dream" seriously. Thankfully, the tongue-in-cheek "Matador" plays off like a heavy metal flamenco tune and the ballads and love songs that Halford writes so well are represented here with some classic new takes.

"Made of Metal" may not be as brutal as earlier Halford CDs, but it still delivers the goods. If we can get a Halford album one year and then a new Judas Priest album the next, well, that would be just fine to me.

For more information, please visit http://www.RobHalford.com.


"Winter Songs" (Metal God Entertainment; 2009)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

What?! A holiday album from the Metal God?! Well, as shocking as that may sound, "Winter Songs" is not only a Christmas album by the lead singer of Judas Priest, it's also pretty entertaining.

"Winter Songs" starts off with a couple of driving tracks, "Get Into the Spirit" and "We Three Kings," both of which boasts Rob Halford's amazing voice as well as thick guitars and fast-paced rhythms. Things kind of slow down a little for the rest of the album (a little too much for the title track) but Halford's voice never ceases to hold your attention. Halford has one of those voices that you could listen to as he sang the phone book but the harder rock tracks on "Winter Songs," as well as the more traditional "carols" (which still get a musical caffeine kick here), once again display his powerful pipes. 

Another thing that's impressive about "Winter Songs" is Halford's sincerity throughout the CD. This isn't one of those albums that ridicules the Christmas season or attacks it with satire or malice. Instead, it's a celebration of the season and, as such, has a little more depth and emotional weight.

These days, there's a lot of Christmas and holiday music to choose from out there, with bands like Twisted Sister, Warrant and Queensryche getting into the act. But "Winter Songs" is an album by the Metal God himself and, as such, climbs a notch or two higher than those other Yuletide metal treats.

For more information, please visit http://www.RobHalford.com.

"Metal God Essentials Vol. 1" (Metal God Entertainment; 2007)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

After the excellent "Angel of Retribution," and with Judas Priest at work on a new album, one might forget that there was a time Rob Halford wasn't at the microphone for Judas Priest and, in fact, had a rather successful solo career of his own. "Metal God Essentials Vol. 1" is ample evidence that -- despite the fact he's back with Judas Priest where he belongs -- Rob Halford is one of the greatest heavy metal frontmen and singers ever no matter who he's playing with.

"Metal God Essentials" is a two disc set (one CD, one DVD) that contains sixteen tracks of Halford audio and a bonus DVD. The CD contains tracks from Halford's solo efforts ("Resurrection," "Live Insurrection" and "Crucible"), a few demo tracks from Fight's "War of Words," and a few new Halford tunes. The DVD is basically a collage of footage, including behind-the-scenes action and music videos.

Throughout the entire collection, you will be amazed at both the vocal power and songwriting style of Rob Halford. The man isn't called The Metal God for nothing and this CD is packed with non-Priest material to prove he earned the name. The demos sound fresh and new and the new songs might as well have been recorded at the same time as the original material. Halford's pipes are nothing short of amazing and the talented fretman he surrounds himself with (i.e., Patrick Lachman, “Metal Mike” Chlasciak, and Roy Z) are nothing short of masters.

Fans of Priest and Halford will want to add this to their collection and those who haven't yet bowed down to the Metal God would find no better place to start than here.

For more information, please visit http://www.RobHalford.com.

"Crucible" (Metal-Is/Sanctuary; 2002)

Reviewed by TBJ

Although I am not a complete fan of Rob Halford, I admire his courage. Not only did he kick everyone's ass last time out with "Resurrection" and the subsequent live CD, he does it again with "Crucible," and with style. 

I will try to keep my Priest/Halford comparisons in check, but I am happy to say there won't be many due to the fact that Priest turned me off when I was younger due to their choice of apparel. (Yes, I know it was wrong of me, but I have already apologized to Lucifer a couple of years ago). 

Anyway, "Crucible" is not only heavier than its predecessor but it is also more aggressive. I didn't notice a ballad anywhere on the album (which makes me kind of sad), but most of the songs come off as really heavy, with an emphasis on groove. Rob is in fine form again, delivering one of the best metal voices ever with power and inspiration. Everyone is in check with their instruments, the beats are tight and the tempos vary from speedy tracks to slower, heavier ground.

I didn’t notice any really standout tracks - every song is tight and precise. And each song - from the first track to the last - go straight for the jugular (or is it "Jugulator?"). I will say this: "Crucible" beats Priest's "Demolition." (Producer) Roy Z, you did it again! 

Halford is: Rob - Vocals, Pat - guitars, Mike - guitars, Bobby - drums, Ray - bass.

For more information, please visit http://www.RobHalford.com or http://www.metal-is.com.  

"Live Insurrection" (Metal-Is/Sanctuary; 2001)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Rob Halford introduced his new band, appropriately entitled "Halford," to audiences a year or so ago opening for the big Iron Maiden reunion tour. Interestingly enough, it was Halford that got the most glowing reviews, despite Maiden's metal monster extravaganza.

Fortunately for those of us that missed it, Rob and band have released a two-CD set containing live recordings of old Judas Priest classics, Fight ragers and, of course, music from Halford (including three brand new studio tracks). Pop this collection into your CD and prepare to have your eyebrows burned off - it rocks like a big dog.

Why, then, doesn't it rate the coveted four chainsaw review? Frankly, it's because "Live Insurrection" is just a wee bit overproduced. I don't know how much of this CD is untouched live performance and how much is tweaked and sweetened Pro Tools magic, but there's enough there to make one aware of the slickness of the sound and that shouldn't happen with a live recording. Live recordings are meant to sound rough. "Live Insurrection" is anything but.

It doesn't help that the liner notes openly admit that several of the songs (called "bonus tracks") were recorded "either at soundcheck before an evening's performance or on a 'non-show day" and then "slipped into the Live sequence with some studio magic." And that the duet with Bruce Dickinson, "The One You Love to Hate," is a "combination of Rob & Bruce's soundcheck and live performances from the London show." I mean, hey guys, thanks for the honesty, but we'd rather have a legitimate live record, rough edges and all.

That being said, "Live Insurrection" will still blow your head clean off your neck. Halford's new songs are blistering wonders, a nice hybrid of his Fight days and Judas Priest. And the Priest songs here aren't just the classics but some tunes you may not have heard for awhile. And, as always, "Into the Pit" just plain kicks you right in the stomach.

Finally, the new studio tracks are pretty impressive, too, and bode well for the future of new Halford studio recordings.

Just back off a little on the ultra slick production, all right?

Performing on "Live Insurrection" are: Mike Chlasciak - guitars; Bobby Jarzombek - drums; Ray Riendeau - bass; Rob Halford - vocals; Patrick Lachman - guitars.

For more information, please visit http://www.robhalford.com

"Resurrection" (Metal-Is/Sanctuary; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I've been reading all about the "return of the Metal God." Frankly, I never thought of Rob Halford as missing.

It's been quite some time since Halford stepped away from Judas Priest to pursue his solo career, but it's not like he's been hiding. He recorded three (okay, two and a half) CDs with his band, Fight; he filled in for Ronnie James Dio on at least one night of a Black Sabbath tour; and he recorded "Two" with Trent Reznor. 

True, Fight's first album was their best with the following two not quite holding up to the promise of the first and "Two" was a CD that took a certain taste to enjoy (I liked it, as did Snidermann: Click here to read his review).

But now Rob Halford has joined up with Roy Z, one of the very best metal producers out there (Roy produced Bruce Dickinson's last two, absolutely incredible CDs), and formed "Halford," a band featuring Rob Halford on vocals; Patrick Lachman on guitars; Mike Chlasciak on guitars; Ray Riendeau on bass and Bobby Jarzombek on drums.  

What's the verdict on "Halford"? Rob Halford fans and Judas Priest fans will be pleased. 

"Resurrection" is one killer record, featuring the Metal God returning to the sound that he made popular with Priest. In fact, when comparing "Halford" to Priest, Fight and Two, one would have to say that "Resurrection" comes closer to the classic Priest sound (a la "Painkiller") than either of Rob's two previous bands.

The CD begins with the title track which should quell any doubt that Halford can still sing like he used to. Halford screams through this one like the rock'n'roll banshee he can be and leaves the listener begging for more.

The second track is destined to become a classic anthem - and it's been too damn long since we've had one of those. "Made In Hell" is a tribute to heavy metal, pure and simple. It's a Rob Halford biography spiced with choruses of "We're born to raise some hell!" and lyrics like this: 
"In Henry's and Mother's where I'd go to bang my head;
 The feeling took a hold of me with every word I said;
 The voice was born and came alive in all I heard and saw and heard;
 And now I knew my destiny, I had to spread the word." 

Oh, yeah - you know you'll be pumping your fist to that one in concert!

Track #3 is "Locked and Loaded" a bizarre little, radio-friendly number that I'm not really sure what is all about. "Night Fall" follows, a dark unrequited love story, if my guess is right. "Silent Screams" is the fifth track and really uses Halford's legendary voice to the full effect. Reminiscent in some ways of "Blood Red Sky," this is one of the CDs best tracks. 

Track #6 really baffles me. Is this a track left off of a recent Bruce Dickinson solo CD and inserted here? It's Dickinson on vocals (as 'additional vocals' according to the CD credits) but it was written by Halford, Dickinson and Roy Z. It's not a bad track but it sticks out like a sore thumb. It would fit perfectly on "Chemical Wedding" or "Accident of Birth" but it's weird here.

Regardless, the CD falls back into place with "Cyber World." Despite the fact that Halford doesn't mention Rough Edge (and what is Cyber World without roughedge.com?), this track about the Internet and its effect on humanity has a great Halford chorus and rocks pretty hard. "Slow Down" is another tour de force for Halford's voice  and "Twist" is another classic hard rock radio hit, written by Bob Halligan Jr. (who also wrote "Some Heads are Gonna Roll"). Great chunky guitars here, too.

"Temptation" follows and it's another mild but effective rocker. "Drive" is next and it lives up to its title, throbbing along with a nice guitar riff and hard rock beat.  

The final track is a more personal number for Halford. "Saviour" sounds as though it were written about Halford's recent "coming out" and how he will continue to fight on. "I'm older so I'm wise," Halford writes (and sings), "I've been crucified; With words personified. Those words shot way too wide. No hate can take my pride." 

Another way to read into "Saviour" is that Halford is here with Iron Maiden to save heavy metal music. And - if we can keep expecting releases like this one - maybe he just can.

For more information, please visit http://www.RobHalford.com or http://www.metal-is.com.  

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

 

Back to CD Reviews Home

Back to RoughEdge.com Home

Copyright © 2010 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Jul 2017 13:44:32 -0400 .