JUDAS PRIEST‘s “Firepower” has landed at position No. 5 on the U.K. albums chart. It marks the band’s highest ranking, and first time in the Top 10, since “British Steel” reached No. 4 in 1980. Elsewhere, “Firepower” has become PRIEST‘s first-ever No. 1 in Sweden, while in the U.S., the album is expected to enter the Billboard 200 at No. 2, bested only by David Byrne‘s “American Utopia”.
“Firepower” was released on March 9 via Epic. The follow-up to 2014’s “Redeemer Of Souls” was recorded by British producer Andy Sneap, the band’s longtime collaborator Tom Allom and engineer Mike Exeter (BLACK SABBATH). The cover artwork for “Firepower” was created by the Chilean/Italian digital artist and photographer Claudio Bergamin.
Asked by the WSOU 89.5 FM radio station if “Firepower” is a “heavier” record than 2014’s “Redeemer Of Souls”, JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner said: “I think ‘heavy’ means so many different things — it could be heavy in terms of sound, it could be heavy in terms of speed, it could be heavy in terms of lyrical content. So it’s hard to know what someone’s interpretation of ‘heavy’ means. But I think it’s a more energetic record — I think there’s more fire in it — which is one of the reasons why ‘Firepower’ was a relevant title to call the record. It’s got that kind of intensity. I don’t think ‘Redeemer’ was lacking in that respect, but this one’s definitely got more of it. It’s got fast stuff, it’s got groovier stuff.”
JUDAS PRIEST “Firepower” world tour marks the band’s first run of dates since guitarist Glenn Tipton announced that he was retiring from the road due to his battle with Parkinson’s disease. He is being replaced on tour by Sneap, also known for his work as the guitar player in NWOBHM revivalists HELL and cult thrash outfit SABBAT.
Tipton was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 10 years ago, but only recently announced he was going to sit out touring activities in support of “Firepower”. The guitarist, who is now 70 and has performed on every PRIEST album since the band’s 1974 debut set, “Rocka Rolla”, is not quitting the band, but simply cannot handle the rigorous challenges of performing live.
The North American leg of the “Firepower” tour will wrap on May 1 in San Antonio, Texas.