March 8, 2006

CD Review: Glenn Tipton - Baptizm of Fire

Glenn Tipton, one half of guitar assault of Judas Priest and the primary songwriter. Back in 1997 he released a solo album, now that album has been remastered and re-released for a new generation of metalheads.

I've never really followed Judas Priest, it's not for lack of desire, it is just one of those things. They were a band that was just sort of there, so forgive me if I am not terribly familiar with their work. I'm working on it, I promise. Anyway, when I got this disk, I figured it would have a distinctly Priest sound to it. That turned out to be both true and untrue.

Baptizm of Fire is a finely honed example of what metal can do. From chugging riffs to driving drums, to screaming solos, they're all here. Glenn Tipton surrounded himself with a group of talented musicians that helped him spread his wings and step away from the band mentality. There is some of that Judas Priest sound to it, I mean, how can you escape it? But still, the album stands alone as a sharp edged weapon of mass ear destruction. Tipton teams with such artists as John Entwistle, Billy Sheehan, Robert Trujillo, Cozy Powell, Shannon Larkin, and Whitfield Crane, among others to deliver our Baptizm.

The album opens with a chunky guitar riff, followed by a nice double bass drum fill leading us into "Hard Care." A decent track which introduces you to an altered Priest sound, and the interesting and unique, if unspectacular voice of Glenn Tipton. Glenn handles all of the lead vocals, and he does a decent job of it. This initial offering is followed by a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black." This is my favorite Stones song, and Tipton does a sped up metalized version which works surprisingly well.

"Enter the Storm" is one of my favorite cuts from Baptizm of Fire. It opens with a nice progression leading into the mellow vocals, which in turn leads to a slow chugging guitar riff. The first couple of minutes actually remind me of some of Type O Negatives slower songs. This leads into an incredible, blood pumping, guitar/drum progression which I just love. That is followed by another chunky rocker in "Fuel Me Up."

The title track is the lone instrumental representation from our metallic ringleader. The guitars are haunting and very reminiscent of raw Priest. The song comes together with some great bass and drum work. The solos are Tipton cutting loose without having to work around vocals, instead using his guitar to take the listener on an emotional journey. Very nice.

Other standout tracks include "Kill or be Killed" and "Voodoo Brother." The former kicking up the speed a few notches and including some nice riffs. The latter moves along at an old school pace, sounds great. Then the album proper closes with the country/acoustic flavored "Left for Dead" which closes the album on a strange note, but is an enjoyable change of pace.

This re-release also has two previously unreleased tracks in "Himalaya" and "New Breed." Both of these songs are pretty good and only add to what amounts to an excellent metal album. "Himalaya" is an epic track, clocking in at near 8 minutes and taking the listener on a journey nearly as epic. The latter, an upbeat rocker to bring the album to its finish.

Bottomline. Excellent album, nice showing of pure metal. Tipton exhibits a fins singing voice and wields a mean axe. The music really carries the album through. Nothing here is terribly revolutionary, but it is a blast of pure metal standing out among a sea of pale imitators.

Recommended. *** / *****

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