New KK's Priest album The Sinner Rides Again isn't reinventing any wheels, but when you have K.K. Downing and Tim 'Ripper' Owens together on this kind of form, who cares?

You know exactly what you're getting with K.K. Luckily, what you're getting is top-tier, classic heavy metal

KK's Priest
(Image: © Mind Art Visual)

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Once more unto the breach for Kenneth ‘K.K.’ Downing – Judas Priest’s original guitarist and a fully fledged founding father of heavy metal – currently enjoying a new creative splurge after spending a decade away from music. Having busied himself with more quirky business ideas than an Apprentice contestant, this LP was written back-to-back with 2021’s invigorating debut Sermons Of The Sinner.

It does sound initially like The Sinner Rides Again (an amusingly passé, corny name for a sequel) might as well be disc two of a double album. By the time we get to the nervy, brooding Keeper Of The Graves, festooned with ghostly choral chants and dusky acoustic picking, you might wonder if a few more spices could have been sprinkled in. A distinct identity does emerge, though, the arrangements perhaps more sophisticated than the debut’s earthy call-and-response Wacken-bait.

There’s still plenty of that, mind: Reap The Whirlwind, Pledge Your Souls, heads-down advance cut One More Shot At Glory (the toying with old Priest titles gets ever cheekier; what next, Another Victim Of More Changes?). A few riffs are so basic they barely exist, and there’s some fairly egregious repetition of a recurring “duhhh-duh- dugga-duh” motif, but always the material is ennobled by K.K.’s glorious whammy-drenched lead work. This hungry septuagenarian shows the whippersnappers how it’s done, his fingers setting fire to the frets of his Flying V. 

Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens has a similar command of his discipline, the singer finding a perfect home in this unit. Sumptuously multitracked and covering his full vocal range with vigour and panache, Ripper keeps in lockstep with K.K.’s moods, from orgiastic overdrive to atmospheric nuance – although the cheesy snarling demon narration should probably be exorcised. K.K.’s not trying to reinvent the steel, but he’s certainly ramping up the challenge for his estranged ex-bandmates.

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.