"Baptizm of Fire" (Atlantic; 1997 / 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Many Judas Priest fans were disappointed when lead singer Rob Halford left the band to pursue a new style. Not only was Judas Priest being broken up, but Halford's new stuff was more extreme than Priest fans were accustomed to. Halford's next projects, including Fight and Two, were met with less than spectacular fan reaction, despite being decent offerings.

Those same disappointed Priest fans would probably be happier with Glenn Tipton's 1997 solo outing, "Baptizm of Fire." "Baptizm of Fire" stays closer to the original Priest sound than, say, Fight's "War of Words." It's got the big riffs, the blistering solos and the heavy but not over-the-top power that Priest fans were used to. On this CD, Tipton's guitar is king and he makes no bones about it. Neither do we. As always, it sounds great, especially on the haunting title track.

While Tipton may be one of metal's true guitar gods, he's no Halford on vocals. Although perfectly serviceable, Tipton's vocals come nowhere near Halford's legendary metal scream (then again, whose do?). Of course, the songs on "Baptizm" weren't necessarily written with Halford in mind. Still, it's hard not to compare a member of Judas Priest going solo with the real Judas Priest. 

"Baptizm of Fire" is a solid solo record that Tipton probably needed to do, especially since the Ripper-fronted Priest seemed to spend more time thinking about music rather than writing or playing it. Fans of heavy metal and especially Judas Priest should be glad that he did. 

Rhino Records re-released this CD in 2006, completely re-mastered and featuring two bonus tracks: The nearly eight minute epic, "Himalaya," which is reminiscent of "Loch Ness" off of Priest's "Angel of Retribution," and "New Breed," a fast-paced rocker that would have not been out of place on Priest's "Turbo."

Joining Glenn Tipton on "Baptizm of Fire" are such noteworthy musicians as Robert Trujillo, Brooks Wackerman, C.J. de Villar, Shannon Larkin, Billy Sheehan, Cozy Powell, Don Airey, John Entwistle and Whitfield Crane. 

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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.

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Copyright 2006 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 15 Jul 2018 12:31:49 -0400.