Review by Glen Parkes
In the realm of music, the dissolution of old friendships is seldom a cause for celebration. When KK Downing found himself excluded from the band he had helped elevate to legendary status, it was clear he would not abandon the music that ran through his veins.
Following the resounding critical acclaim of 2021’s ‘Sermons of the Sinner,’ a reunion with former Judas Priest vocalist Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, KK Downing returned in full force. His blonde hair flew as he summoned high-decibel anthems from his iconic Flying V guitar.
‘The Sinner Rides Again’ marks the resurgence of this leather-and-studs-clad ensemble, unwavering in their pursuit of crafting the loudest, most quintessential Metal sound once more.
From the very beginning, their debut demonstrated that the band clicked effortlessly. This sophomore release solidifies their chemistry, with sparks flying higher and the flames of their passion burning even brighter. While the inclination to be heavier than ever could, in some hands, verge on parody, KK’s Priest displays a savage and heartfelt commitment to their mission that sweeps you away in an unrelenting barrage of sound.
Opening with ‘Sons of the Sentinel,’ the return is furious and all guns blazing. The torrent of riffs and Owen’s piercing vocals recall the ‘Painkiller’ heaviness, yet with their unique twist. The subsequent ‘Strike of the Viper’ is suitably venomous, dripping with unbridled threat.
As ‘Reap the Whirlwind’ explodes from the speakers, more metal than metal, it leaves no room for ambiguity regarding their intent. Thankfully, it is executed with a finesse that stays on the right side of the line, avoiding the pitfalls of Manowar-style bombast.
While the album may lack a power ballad shoehorned in for a moment of respite from the headbanging fury, there’s still a lot of light and shade here. The production brings out subtle sonic layers, revealing hidden gems amid the onslaught.
Notable instances include the vocal harmonies at the end of ‘One More Shot at Glory’ and the quieter passages that temper the blistering ‘Keeper of the Graves.’ Beneath the surface, a wealth of details elevates the sonic barrage, adding depth and nuance.
Comprising a concise nine tracks in total, ‘The Sinner Rides Again’ never overstays its welcome. Its runtime is just right, devoid of any excess or bloat that plagues other similar releases. Much like a masterpiece such as ‘British Steel’ with his former band, this is a tightly knit album that fulfils its purpose and exits the stage, leaving the listener both shaken and dazzled.
With the machine-gun drumming and the unapologetic bravado of the battle anthem ‘Pledge Your Souls,’ and the epic conclusion in ‘Wash Away Your Sins,’ KK Downing knows that victory is assured for him and his troops.
Continuing the tradition while embracing a razor-sharp modernity, ‘The Sinner Rides Again’ adds another illustrious chapter to the Midlands legend’s legacy.
The Sinner Rides Again track listing:
1. Sons Of The Sentinel
2. Strike Of The Viper
3. Reap The Whirlwind
4. One More Shot At Glory
5. Hymn 66
6. The Sinner Rides Again
7. Keeper Of The Graves
8. Pledge Your Souls
9. Wash Away Your Sins