“It’s been a bit of a game changer, the way it shook up business on a worldwide level,” Rob said (see video below). “From working at home to people realizing that people can effectively work from home and, in some ways, be more productive to just rethinking how to operate your business.
“For us [in JUDAS PRIEST], on that idea, some of our friends are making music by Zoom — Zooming and writing songs on there. That, for me, is difficult, because I’m old school,” he continued. “I need to be in the studio with the guys, writing. That’s just the way my old brain works. But I understand that the tentacles of the pandemic, it reached out into every aspect of life, particularly on the business level. There’s been a lot of rethinking and reorganization — some of it good, and some of it not so good. But it’s just been another great display of human tenacity to get through some of the darkest moments.”
Two months ago, Halford told Talking Metal that he, Richie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton “had some great writing sessions at the start of this year back in the U.K. at Glenn‘s studio” for the band’s follow-up to “Firepower” album. Released in March 2018, “Firepower” was the second LP to feature Richie, who was selected to fill the void left by founding guitarist K.K. Downing following his exit in 2011. “We did a lot of demos,” Rob said. “I’ve got pretty much an [album’s worth] of [new] JUDAS PRIEST [material] on [my] phone right now. And it’s just amazing.
“On average, we usually have three or four big writing sessions of a month or so at a time,” he continued. “And so we got the first one down, and we’ve got a lot of material. It’s incredibly fierce. I think that energy was just being channeled, especially from Richie. Some of his riffs and some of the core of the songs, they’re absolutely lethal. I feel textures of the ‘Painkiller’ experience in some of the songs, and the classic elements again. It’ll have its own legs, like they all do — they’ve all got their own character. And I think whatever this album is called and whenever it’s released, it’ll be another great metal milestone for JUDAS PRIEST.”
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“Firepower” was recorded by British producer Andy Sneap, the band’s longtime collaborator Tom Allom and engineer Mike Exeter (BLACK SABBATH), and Rob said that he would be thrilled to collaborate with all three again.
“It was a great experience working with Andy and Tom Allom, because they have two different approaches as producers,” Halford said. “And we didn’t even know if that was gonna work when we started to think about putting them together. But what a great idea that was, and they made some special things happen in terms of production. Me personally, I’m happy to replicate that thing over again, because I think we just touched the surface of it with the ‘Firepower’ production team, with Mike Exeter as well, who had just come off the SABBATH ’13’ album. So, anything can happen. But I just feel it’s gonna be another very, very extra-strong record when we finally get it made.”
In September, Faulkner told SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk” that the creative process for PRIEST‘s next LP was halted by the coronavirus outbreak, which disrupted global travel.
Halford resides in Phoenix, Faulkner in Nashville and Tipton still calls his native United Kingdom his home.
“Firepower” entered the Billboard 200 chart at position No. 5, making it PRIEST‘s highest-charting album ever. “Redeemer Of Souls” debuted and peaked at No. 6, while 2008’s “Nostradamus” landed at No. 11 and 2005’s “Angel Of Retribution” came in at No. 13.
“Firepower” moved 49,000 equivalent album units in first week of release. Of that sum, 48,000 were in traditional album sales, just shy of the 54,000 copies sold by “Angel Of Retribution” in that album’s first week. The “Firepower” chart position was bolstered by sales generated from a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer in association with the band’s spring 2018 North American tour.
Across the pond, “Firepower” landed at position No. 5 on the U.K. album chart. It marked the band’s highest ranking, and first time in the Top 10, since “British Steel” reached No. 4 in 1980. Elsewhere, “Firepower” also became PRIEST‘s first-ever No. 1 in Sweden.