Wasting little time after the success of their 2021 debut album, Sermons Of The Sinner, KK’s Priest come back screaming with their sophomore release, The Sinner Rides Again. Taking all that was great about that debut and adding a touch of magic, their second full-length benefits from a cohesion that’s turned them into a five-headed hydra who’re ready to take on the world.
A brief, soaring guitar motif and a thunderous drum roll herald the arrival of opening shot ‘Sons Of The Sentinel’, and as introductions go, it is the perfect mission statement. The first thing to note is that vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens is in fine fettle, and like the proverbial bottle of wine, has matured with time. His demonic screech sets just the right tone; this is exactly the type of sound that would seep from Satan’s speakers, but don’t write “Ripper” off as a one-trick-pony, his versatile voice flows with the music, and his more measured tones mid-song add real depth and texture. The peaks and troughs found here make The Sinner Rides Again a multi-faceted listen and ensure that KK’s Priest attack the listener from all angles, not unlike a school of piranhas.
Everything on this album has been distilled into its purest form, and The Sinner Rides Again is a brand of heavy metal that’s 100% proof. KK’s Priest don’t use two notes when one will suffice, and subsequently there’s not one ounce of excess fat on here. Case in point being ‘Strike Of The Viper’, a track that borders upon thrash in its ferocity, and goes straight for the throat like a snake peering from its coil, and sinks its fangs in with venom. It’s not always pretty, but then again heavy metal was not meant to be, but in terms of rugged beauty, The Sinner Rides Again holds all the aces.
For me, part of heavy metal’s attraction was always its cinematic nature, an ability to set scenes and plant images in your mind’s eye. It’s utilising these moments where The Sinner Rides Again really sparkles and the chanting, Gregorian monks at the start of ‘Keeper Of The Graves’ transfer us to another dimension before K.K. Downing shocks us back to reality with some serious riffage. In a similar way, ‘Wash Away Your Sins’ makes good use of loud and quiet dynamics and ensures that The Sinner Rides Again ends on an epic, grandiose tone, which is surely the only way to go.
K.K. Downing was an integral part of Judas Priest’s success, his guitar playing and lyricism helped shaped that band, and he’s more than entitled to the biggest share of that band’s legacy. However, sometimes The Sinner Rides Again sails a little too close to Judas Priest for comfort. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Birmingham’s finest will recognise the familiarity in titles such as ‘One More Shot At Glory’ and ‘The Sinner Rides Again’. That’s a shame, because KK’s Priest certainly have their own thing going on, and they should prepare for the future, because that’s where The Sinner Rides Again will propel them.
- Sons Of The Sentinel
- Strike Of The Viper
- Reap The Whirlwind
- One More Shot At Glory
- Hymn 66
- The Sinner Rides Again
- Keeper Of The Graves
- Pledge Your Souls
- Wash Away Your Sins