What makes Redeemer of Souls work is that it recognizes its cliches and comes at them with full force. The title track may sound like a "Hell Patrol" rewrite, and the similarities between "March of the Damned" and "Metal Gods" are blatant to say the least. Even so, it does not sound as if the band is grasping for former glories. Rather, Priest sound satisfied here; aware of all that they've done, they use their past as a template for this album. While Angel of Retribution largely sounded like they were trying too hard to match Painkiller, the band draws on their entire output for inspiration here. "Dragonaut" sounds like a killer concert opener from their heyday; "Cold Blooded" recalls an almost early Metallica-esque vibe in its diversity; "Secrets of the Dead" achieves a gothic atmosphere only hinted at by songs like "A Touch of Evil".
The biggest surprises come when the band stretches all the way back to its beginning and when it looks boldly to the future. "Crossfire" sounds like a resuscitated gem from Priest's tenure at Gull Records, and "Beginning of the End" is by far one of their best ballads since "Dreamer Deceiver". In addition, songs like "Halls of Valhalla", "Sword of Damocles", and "Battle Cry" recall an era that Priest were never really a part of: '90s power metal. These songs sound unlike almost anything else in the Priest canon, and the style found here is probably best attributed to Richie Faulkner, who dexterously fills Downing's shoes while adding his own flair to each and every song. None of the songs are bad on the first disc (the second is largely filler), but songs like "Metalizer" (amazing how they took so long to use that title) do try a little too hard to bring back the vibe of Painkiller. That said, Rob Halford sounds excellent throughout, reserving any high-pitched screams for when they are truly necessary, making him sound more potent and diverse throughout the album.
As the final song indicates, this could very well be the last that we hear of Judas Priest. If that's how things play out, Redeemer of Souls is a much worthier swansong than the previous two albums. It may be filled to the brim with cliches, but it is important to note that many of the cliches that we associate with metal in general would not exist without Judas Priest, for better of worse. Either way, a great, daresay classic metal album, and certainly a contender for comeback album of the year.