HALFORD – MADE OF METAL (REVIEW)

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Halford is a Rob Halford of Judas Priest fame solo project. Made Of Metal is the fourth Halford record. The awful truth is I have never been a huge Judas Priest fan. Although I greatly appreciate and understand their commitment and contributions to the genre, outside of a handful of great songs the bulk of their catalog never really took with me. So as you can imagine I was not in a big hurry to listen to Made Of Metal. As promised I did my best to be objective and rate this record on its own merits.

It was to my delight and slight amazement that I found this record not only full of great tracks but also very different from Judas Priest. The first major difference is the feeling of fun that permeates this record from start to finish. (The title track seems to be a Nascar love song?!!)  I don’t know if Rob Halford feels no pressure when it’s not an official Judas Priest  record (Let’s be honest: Priest brings in the moolah), but Halford does not seem trapped by boundaries here. The songs range from hard metal to stadium rock and a nice touch of pop thrown in.

Fire And Ice may well be one of my favorite songs of the year in any category. It soars with metal fury while maintaining a fantastic pop chorus. Speed Of Sound has the feel of an old Iron Maiden track (which of course is always a good thing) while Till The Day I Die has a cool steel slide guitar blues thing running through it.

Speaking of guitar, Roy Z and of course the great Metal Mike Chlasciak are in full guitar blitz on this record with riffs aplenty as well as mind-bending ripping solos (check Undisputed) that would please any metal fan. Mike Davis keeps the beat locked down with Bobby Jarzombek pounding the drums (check out the killer drum intro on Hell Razor). Again changing styles, the very moody mid-tempo We Own The Night blends metal guitars with soaring vocals and pretty (if somewhat buried) piano. This song is perfect example of how far out of the Priest world this record is, and it is my second fave for sure. Twenty-Five Years is a seven minute ballad that stretches the capacity of Halford’s vocals, which is proof positive that he still has amazing power and range.

The only thing that this record lacks is a strong continuity, which I think is what is appealing to Rob Halford. He gets to do whatever he wants and although it causes some flow issues, the pay-off is worth it; because as I mentioned there is a sense of fun. When a band (and singer) is having fun writing and recording, it shows on the final product.

Going forward to Halford 5 I would wish for more of the mid-tempo hard rock with pop sensibility throughout, to give it a focus that Made Of Metal lacks. Metal fans will be happy but not blown away. Hard rock fans will be happy at times but will lament at the lack of Priest type songs. (Need I remind you that the last Judas Priest record was a double disc concept record based on the life of Nostradamus… and that it wasn’t very good… not even in a Spinal Tap way… Must I go there?… I thought not.) So let’s keep it real. This is not an amazing record, but it has amazing moments and is a really good effort, and I think it is a very relevant accomplishment in the book of Rob Halford. I was never a true fan of Judas Priest but I now can consider myself a fan of Halford. Huh… who knew.

3.5 (out of 5)

J.S.L.

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