Sharpening his steel anew, original metal belter finds common denominator for a decades-spanning career.
Forever glorified for his contribution to the JUDAS PRIEST canon, Alan Atkins’ relationship with his past isn’t that sophisticated, and it’s the lack of ambition that makes this attempt to give a new context to the singer’s pieces – whose original versions are strewn across forty-odd years – so alluring. With a fragment of “Mind Conception” demoed by Al’s old band aeons ago serving as both a bonus track and a link to a fully fleshed out killer cut from Atkins’ solo album, there could be a long way to go through various inflections of the veteran’s oeuvre if he didn’t record, with friends on board, fresh versions of it.
From today’s look at the bluesy “Winter” featuring Al’s erstwhile co-writer Ian Hill on bass, to the nervous “Love At War” off the veteran’s HOLY RAGE outfit, the performances on offer ooze class, and the players’ no-frills approach turn songs of various vintage, through a music alchemy, into a monolithic monument to true metal. That’s why, perhaps, Atkins chose to leave out his work with Paul May from this CD, although the latter’s guitar propels most of what’s here: power leanings wouldn’t fit the current concept, while numbers such as “Coming Thick & Fast” where bottom end is shaken by John McCoy – focus on the vocalist’s melodic roar.
Al’s unfaltering sincerity renders the epic “A Void To Avoid” irresistible rather than pretentious, and it doesn’t take speedy delivery to make the sludgy likes of “Never Satisfied” impressive. It’s this lust for perfection that’s the pulsing core of the singer’s drive, so the revisiting of “Victim Of Changes” with Ralf Scheepers as a sparring partner and Roy Z as one of six-string foils is rather ironic for the singer’s stance has not been known for revision. In other words, Atkins is a rock and a hard place.