A decade ago, K.K. Downing, one of Heavy Metal’s most prolific guitarists, shockingly departed from Judas Priest and took somewhat of a hiatus. A double axe attack, Downing shredded some of Metal’s most iconic riffs alongside fellow bandmate and Guitarist Glenn Tipton for a memorable forty years.
Since his departure from Judas Priest, Downing laid low until 2020 when he burst back onto the scene with his new band, KK’s Priest. Somewhat of a supergroup, KK’s Priest sees Downing joined by renowned journeyman and another former member of Judas Priest, Vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens (Iced Earth, Three Tremors, Spirits of Fire), Guitarist AJ Mills, Bassist Tony Newton (Voodoo Six), and Drummer Sean Elg (DeathRiders, Cage). An explosive new project, KK’s Priest drops their debut album, Sermons of the Sinner, on Friday, October 1, 2021 via EX1 Records.
As time goes on, it is surreal to believe Downing has been playing Metal professionally for just about fifty years. Following the announcement of KK’s Priest, there was much excitement among Metal fans who were thrilled to see Downing back doing what he does best. Once KK’s Priest released the first single off Sermons of the Sinner, “Hellfire Thunderbolt,” the Metal community was buzzing and excited to see Downing still has it. A natural, Downing wrote Sermons of the Sinner in just four months and he even unearthed a number of archived riffs from the 1980’s. Amped up, Downing had this to say about his new music: “The whole concept is the fact that I continue proudly to be who I am and what I am and do what I do. It’s been nearly 10 years. I’m back making music.”
One of the most anticipated Heavy Metal albums in recent memory, Sermons of the Sinner opens with a storm of sound via the intro ” Incarnation” before bursting into flames with the aforementioned first single, “Hellfire Thunderbolt.” As it grows under your skin, “Hellfire Thunderbolt” is a fiery array of shredding riffs complemented by the devilishly awe inspiring vocals by Owens and an all around Metal explosion from Mills, Newton, and Elg. Off to a great start, next we see “Sermons of the Sinner” preach the gospel of KK’s Priest, followed by “Sacerdote y Diablo.” If there is one thing Sermons of the Sinner is not lacking it is the overall spirit and love of all things Heavy Metal. Case in point, “Raise Your Fists,” opens with a riff somewhat reminiscent of Iron Maiden as this track really has a one for, all for one attitude.
Headed out to the highway, “Brothers of the Road” praises the glory and struggle of living on the highway to hell and playing in a band. Then, “Metal Through and Through” is a mildly tempered number before the full speed demonic riffs of “Wild and Free.” As Sermons of the Sinner continues, KK’s Priest delivers some clever song titles as “Hail for the Priest” is as intense and imaginative as anything. Lastly, the nine minute epic entitled “Return of the Sentinel” is meant to be a sequel to Judas Priest’s “The Sentinel” released on the platinum selling album, 1984’s Defenders Of The Faith, and it holds up fairly well to the original.
Overall, KK’s Priest are actually a breathe of fresh air in a world were classic Heavy Metal has become scarce over the years. As a whole, Sermons of the Sinner is a perfectly fine assortment of new Heavy Metal tunes that will satisfy most fans, especially around the world. KK Downing is officially back and he may have found the perfect bandmates for his next chapter. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock awards Sermons of the Sinner 4 out of 5 stars.