Original Judas Priest vocalist Al Atkins continues to stay busy, kicking off the new year here with Reloaded, a collection of songs that the singer has either written or performed on over the last four decades. Featuring frequent collaborator Paul May on guitars & bass, drummer Rob Allen, as well as a host of guest stars that include Judas Priest bassist Ian Hill, former Gillan bassist John McCoy, Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear, guitarist Roy Z, and more, Reloaded comes across as a bunch of guys having a blast and cranking out new versions of classic tunes.
Opening up with the seminal "Winter" from the Priest album Rocka Rolla is a great way to kick start this album, Atkins & Co. perhaps making this song even heavier than the original, with Hill's bass adding some extra heft to the arrangement. May lends some seriously doom laden riffage here, and Atkins' ruff & gruff delivery lends a different slant to what most of us remember on the Rob Halford sung album version. "Mind Conception" is a solid heavy metal rocker from Al's solo career (though originally dates back to early Priest), as is "A Void to Avoid" from the underrated Heavy Thoughts album, the latter a lengthy epic with smoldering dueling guitar solos from Tsuyoshi Ikedo, Stu 'Hammer' Marshall, and May.
The groove laden "Coming Thick and Fast" sees McCoy lend his muscular bass riffs alongside Atkin's gravelly roar, and another revisit to Al's 1994 solo album comes in the form of the Judas Priest styled title track "Heavy Thoughts", complete with savage riffs and solos courtesy of May, one of heavy metal's must underrated guitar heroes. Another dip into Rocka Rolla can be heard on Never Satisfied, again alongside Hill, and the anti-drug song "Money Talks" features a snarling Atkins vocal surrounded by more herculean guitar work from May. "Cradle to the Grave" is another solo track from the Heavy Thoughts album, and again, first class crunchy heavy metal is the name of the game, as it is also on the raging "Love at War", before the guys go all the way back for "Victim of Changes", featuring a killer duet between Atkins and Scheepers, as well as guitars solos courtesy of May and Roy Z. As an added bonus, there is a Judas Priest demo extract of "Mind Conception" from the early '70s featuring Atkins, Hill, and KK Downing...certainly a must hear for any Priest fan.
Reloaded certainly tips the richter scale as far as delivering vintage styled heavy metal, Al Atkins and his friends no doubt had a blast putting this set together in hopes that metalheads worldwide can revisit their take on some of these classic songs. Get your air guitar out, crack open a cold one, and rock out to some serious old school metal from the Midlands!
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Monday, 20 February 2017
Al Atkins review
Posted by Jon Downes at 16:04
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