Does Jugulator really exist? Is it even real? No songs from it were featured during the Epitaph tour, a tour where they played a song from “every” album. It also isn’t in the “Complete” albums collection. So what’s wrong with Jugulator? The album sounds pretty good to me; thrashy like Painkiller but with different subject matter.
The biggest “hits” of the album are at the end. Bullet Train is an intense thrash metal track, while Cathedral Spires is a huge atmospheric epic with lots of tempo changes. I personally like the title track, Jugulator, with it’s wild drumming and intense vocals. It does a good job of setting the tone and showing off the expansive range of the new singer, Tim “Ripper” Owens. I also enjoy Blood Stained, Dead Meat, and Burn in Hell. My favourite is actually Burn in Hell, it has a long, building intro and the lyrics are are well written. The rest of the songs are usually solid, although I find Brain Dead and Death Row to be weak.
One thing that tends to draw people away is the lack of Rob Halford on the record. Halford had left the band to pursue solo work, and this would be the first of two albums recorded before the band reunited. However, Ripper Owens was a terrific replacement. The man has talent. He has a huge range, powerful falsetto, and he knew already the Priest hits. He was in a Judas Priest cover band before working with Priest. They actually weren’t looking for a Halford imitation, Priest wanted a new kind of singer to match their new era and I think “Ripper” Owens fit the bill nicely,. The band loved him, and they chose him personally, so who am I to disagree with Judas Priest on their own singer?
I can understand why people don’t like Jugulator, the album is dark and some of the songs are simply boring. Some of the writing is hit or miss, but that’s because Halford was their lyricist. It must have been a struggle for K.K. and Tipton to write without Halford and keep up with the changes in metal during their five years on hiatus. I’m personally not a huge fan of this album, but only because of the negative themes. Despite this I believe the overall quality is far higher than where people place it. I prefer positivity in my music, but I respect Jugulator for what it is and accept that it has real quality despite its flaws.
“Hellrider” from Angel of Retribution could have been put on Jugulator and it would have fit, and fit well. Just think, long intro? Yes. Thrash sound? Yes. Speed Metal? Yes. Dynamic vocals? Yes… Kind of sounds like “Dead Meat” actually. Angel of Retribution is a true successor to Jugulator, so the album definitely left its mark.