This is the second of a two-part reexamination of the recently remastered versions of the first two releases from the powerful metal combo Halford (named for the former and current vocalist for Judas Priest, Rob Halford). Retaining the rights to his “solo” material for his own Metal God label, Rob has released these CDs in 2009 in preparation for new material from Halford and following commitments to touring with Judas Priest in support of their release, Nostradamus. We’ll now take a listen to Halford’s first record, Resurrection.
Following the somewhat failed experimentation found on Rob Halford’s collaboration with Trent Reznor, 2wo’s Voyeurs, Halford had a strong desire to get back to his strengths as a musician. His fans were not willing to follow his musical detours and it seems that he didn’t fully embrace the techno gloom either. In late 1998 and into 1999, he began writing material that showcased his reputation as the world’s premier heavy metal vocalist. The band Halford was formed with guitarist/producer Roy Z, guitarists Patrick Lachman and Mike Chlasciak, 2wo bassist Ray Riendeau and drummer Bobby Jarzombek. The musicians had a true love for classic metal, yet approached the genre with a 21st Century sensibility. In two weeks, the group had completed the initial tracks for 22 original songs, 16 of which found their way onto their debut, Resurrection. The record’s title acknowledges a return to form and what hoped to be a revitalization of Rob Halford’s sagging career in the wake of his departure from Judas Priest. Although Halford the band has not yet achieved the respect given to Judas Priest, Resurrection is a much better record than anything released by Priest since the early ’80s.
The lyrical content within Resurrection demonstrates Halford’s coming to grips with aging and various emotional ups and downs that he’s experienced through the years. They are far more personal and revealing than any he’d written in the past. Also, he doesn’t disappoint those looking for songs rife with sexual innuendo and pointing toward S&M fetish. The lyrics appear to have sprung from Rob’s mind much more freely than those written previously, yet the songs are concise and hold mainly to the three or four minute mark. The support given by the producer and musicians allowed Rob to just do what he does best and the overall product contains a sense of immediacy. Rob was on a roll and working with people that were in tune with his moods.
Working with the right producer also gave Rob the ability to accomplish some goals that had been set aside for several years. One example of this was found in his collaboration with Iron Maiden’s frontman, Bruce Dickinson on the track, “The One You Love to Hate.” Long thought of as the two best singers in heavy metal, the combination is natural and stunning. The guitarists also lend a Maiden vibe with skilled harmonies and a tight rhythm. Elsewhere Rob dabbles in science fiction on the cut, “Cyberworld.” Using the analogy of a sinister computer presence, Rob describes the lack of control over one’s fate one might experience when facing either an omnipotent artificial entity or a darkly amoral acquaintance. This powerlessness in the presence of evil is also railed against in “Temptation,” where trust nearly leads the song’s protagonist into a life full of sadness and regret.
Paying tribute to The Priest’s past, Rob delivers the song “Sad Wings” (a nod to the record Sad Wings Of Destiny) in a classic Halford operatic vocal performance atop thunderous kit bashing from Jarzombek. Halford also borrows once again from the work of songwriter Bob Halligan Jr., author of the Priest tunes “(Take These) Chains” and “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” on “Twist.” The song showcases the spectacular range and emotion in Rob’s voice as he ascends and descends the scale while exhibiting the agony of separation.
The high points of Resurrection are numerous. It is likely the best conceived album that Rob Halford has ever been party to. Fans of his work with Judas Priest do not have a complete collection without the inclusion of this juggernaut. Those disappointed with the non-Priest elements of Nostradamus (orchestration, synthesizers, choirs, etc), adventurous as they were, need to look for this and future recordings from Halford for the visceral pipes and unique sentiment of Rob Halford that we’ve all known and loved.
- Mark Polzin