Nearly 50 years into their career, Judas Priest are still going strong. In fact, their 2018 album Firepower is being hailed as their best in years. But will the disc be the legendary metal band’s swan song? According to bassist Ian Hill, the answer is “no.”
Judas Priest have suffered some setbacks this decade, with guitarist K.K. Downing leaving the band in 2011 and fellow axe-man Glenn Tipton recently having to step away from touring after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. But Priest have soldiered on, first recruiting Richie Faulkner to replace Downing, and then Andy Sneap to fill in for Tipton.
When asked by Musik Universe (via Metal Hammer) if Firepower would be the band’s final album, Hill responded, “We haven’t planned anything like that. There is no reason to stop doing these things. Glenn can play for a while, even during a bad day. It’s just that he can’t play for a whole show for now – and that could change if there are some interventions that can help it.”
He added, “So there is no reason to stop writing new songs, he is quite capable of composing riffs and playing for a while to record an album. So we don’t expect Firepower to be the last album.”
There is some question as to what Tipton’s health struggles might mean for Judas Priest’s future as a touring act. While he has been making on and off appearances with the band during their current tour in support of Firepower, Tipton has been otherwise replaced onstage by Sneap.
At the present time, according to a recent interview singer Rob Halford gave to the podcast Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon, Sneap is going to stick with the group through the end of the current trek, but beyond that, his status in the band is uncertain. “I think I can safely say that Andy will be with us through what’s left of the Firepower tour, which is gonna be through the rest of this year and most of next year as well,” explained Halford. “Where we go from that, we can’t even look and see.”
The frontman added, “He’s committed to this band for as long as we need him. Andy is a prolific producer. He lives in his studio back home in Derbyshire [England]. That’s what he does — he gets up in the morning and goes to the studio and there it is. That’s his life. So we’re tremendously grateful to Andy for stepping away from that and standing in Glenn’s place for the Firepower tour.”
As for 2019, Halford recently revealed to Philadelphia radio station WMMR that the band is in early talks to do something special next year to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
Says Halford, “We’re already having discussions every now and again in the band, with our label, our promoters and management. We have some ideas and when we get close to solidifying something, we’ll let you know. It’s going to be a great year – what a celebration. Another incredible milestone for Judas Priest that we’re looking forward to sharing with everybody.”
See Judas Priest’s Firepower, along with our other picks, in Heavy Consequence’s list of the Best Metal Albums of 2018 So Far.