Although Judas Priest has accomplished just about everything a heavy metal band could possibly hope for, Rob Halford and company have yet to tackle a concept album. Soon, the group will be able to check that off its to-do list, as Priest is currently hard at work penning an album that will tell the story of the 16th century French prophet Nostradamus.
"We're writing right now," Halford told Billboard.com. "I'm here in the Midlands near Birmingham, with (guitarists) Glenn (Tipton) and K.K. (Downing). The ideas are just so strong — we've already been putting down the music. It's incredibly exciting and inspiring to be involved. We're getting incredible results at these early stages."
Telling the tale of Nostradamus against a hard rock soundtrack will certainly be daunting, but Priest is up for the challenge. "It's going to be a monumental task. We've written about characters in our music over the decades — 'Loch Ness,' 'The Sentinel,' 'Sinner,"' Halford said. "It's just like a natural progressive step for us. The exciting thing is that we're going to be performing the whole piece live on stage when we go out, hopefully in early 2007."
Halford predicted the untitled album would be the most musically challenging Priest release yet. "There's going to be some new dimensions of sound brought into this," he said. "We're trying to cover a lot of territory, but this has got to be seamless. This has got to take you through a journey of this man coming into existence, and going through his experiences of first knowing that he's got these abilities to have prophecies and visions. And then in the real world, the circumstances that he experienced just as a regular man — living in Europe in the 16th century."
Halford also said the tour could possibly surpass the over-the-top stage shows Priest has offered in the past. "That's going to be something absolutely spectacular," he enthused. "We're not quite sure whether we will create the kind of visual experience that you would see at a classic opera environment. It'll be a combination of all the modern elements that are there — these big massive screens that move around, special effects and illusions. The show is going to be an incredible visual feast, as well as an audio one. We're determined again to hit a new level and leave people stunned."
Judas Priest will take a brief break from the studio next month, when the group, along with Kiss, Queen and Def Leppard, will be saluted at VH1's "Rock Honors." The show will be taped May 25 at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay and will air six days later.
"Each of the bands that are being honored are going to play a couple of songs apiece," Halford says. "And I also believe that there's going to be another band that will be doing a 'tribute' to the band that they're friends of. It's going to be terrific — I can't wait."