KK’s Priest brings a sense of grandeur to the boiling cauldron of furious riffs, wrecking ball rhythms and shattering vocals, the constantly changing screen behind them the perfect film to this Heavy Metal soundtrack.
O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London – 12 October 2023
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Photography: Robert Sutton
The whole became an almost overwhelming experience for some, the euphoria of losing themselves in the music transcending. With a special guest slot at Stonedead Festival announced on Friday and two critically acclaimed albums under their belts alongside a good smattering of Priest classics, this was a band riding a high, confident and yet with a dangerous edge.
It’s hard to think that Downing stepped away from music for a while after his split from Priest, his obvious joy at tearing notes from his custom Flying V something wonderful to behold.
Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens looks similarly ecstatic, the knowledge that what the band are creating is writing another chapter in the annuls of rock.
A blistering Hellfire Thunderbolt is a relentless jackhammer for an opener, the Manowar-ish One More Shot at Glory a chest-beating anthem that could stop hordes in their tracks before the singer screams the question, “What’s my name?” as they burst into ‘The Ripper’, the first of nine Priest numbers in the set.
Owens displays throughout just why he was the perfect choice as the voice to act as a foil to his old friend’s musical firepower, his range going from an unsettling growl to the stratospheric during Night Crawler alone.
From earlier gems through to an electrifying Sermons Of The Sinner with its Painkiller vibe central drive that throws in some epic slower passages, the balance of the set is a masterful one that manages to throw in a few deeper cuts, too.
Hell Patrol, Brothers Of The Road and Metal Meltdown are all given the full force treatment before the Fleetwood Mac turned Metal monster The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown) hits new heights.
The instantly recognisable riff of Breaking The Law causes the already fevered audience to totally lose their minds, the sound of the whole of the Empire yelling, “You don’t know what it’s like”, one of the best things heard by these walls all year as flakes of plaster are dislodged from the ceiling.
After a closing Victim Of Changes, the encore’s double punch of Raise Your Fists and Strike Of The Viper is both an ideal end of the evening and a reiteration that the outfit can write ferocious modern Metal nuggets that stand shoulder to shoulder with anything around today.
Tipping their hats to the glories of the past whilst definitely very much in the present and pushing toward the future, KK’s Priest are a crushing force, flying the flag for Metal.
For fans old and new, these three bands brought the electrifying spirit of one of the most pivotal times in the history of high-decibel music back from the past and very much into the here and now.
You can read the report of Paul Di’Anno and Burning Witches from O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire here.