This week, Judas Priest is celebrating its highest-charting album ever on the Billboard 200, as Redeemer of Souls bowed at #6 on the tally after selling 33,000 copies during its first week. It's an impressive feat for a band that released its debut album, 1974's Rocka Rolla , almost 40 years ago.
The heavy metal legends' fans apparently are appreciating the group's latest foray into the studio, one that, according to frontman Rob Halford , saw Judas Priest revisiting the classic ingredients that define its sound while infusing its music with a renewed energy.
Speaking with ABC News Radio, Halford says of the group's approach to making Redeemer of Souls , "I think that's a great testimony to the faith and the passion and the belief that we still have in Judas Priest's heavy metal music, and a commitment to give you a thousand percent and for it to still sound so fresh and modern but carry all of those great critical classic elements of that heavy metal genre."
According to the powerhouse singer, what makes the new record so engaging "is the pure, raw energy and power that's being sustained consistently from the first track to the nice moment when the drapes come together [with the final song] 'Beginning of the End.'" He adds, "Up until that point, it's relentless, and it's got that youth and vitality that is very difficult to accomplish by some bands' standards 40 years later."
Some credit for that vitality can go to the band's latest addition, 34-year-old guitarist Richie Faulkner , who joined the group in 2011 after the departure of founding member K.K. Downing . Faulkner contributes plenty of blistering leads to Redeemer of Souls and also co-wrote all of the album's tracks.
Richie's view on why the new album is so strong echoes that of Halford.
"I think it's interesting that it pays tribute, or it has essences of the band's 40-year career without being retrospective and rested on the laurels," he tells ABC News Radio. "It's very forward thinking. This is new Judas Priest, but it also has excerpts of the same feelings that were created back in Defenders of the Faith or Rocka Rolla territory."
Faulkner adds, with pride, "I think it's great for a band of 40 years to have that outlook -- not resting on their laurels, not playing it safe, forging through like they always have done, really."
North American fans will get to hear some of the band's new tunes, along with plenty of Priest classics, live when the rockers hit the road on their Redeemer of Souls Tour , which gets under way October 1 in Rochester, New York.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio