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Demon Deceiver... Plus

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Album Review

It's tough to live down one's past, especially if that past incorporates one of music's biggest "coulda been a star" stories since Pete Best. Al Atkins has been trying to escape the shadow of Judas Priest, the band he formed in the late '60s, ever since the band took off to stardom without him, but it's been a rough road that even 2007's Demon Deceiver couldn't entirely smooth. For that solo set, his fifth, Atkins joined forces with Budgie guitarist Simon Lees, bassist Pete Emms, and drummer Mick Hales, with Diamond Head's Brian Tatler and Danté Fox's Mike De Jager among the guest support. The album was a self-financed/self-produced labor of love, and suffered somewhat from the lack of money and big-production values, but only some. Within, Atkins revisits a pair of old Priest songs that the band later recorded with Rob Halford — a power-packed rendition of "Victim of Changes" and an emotive take on "Dreamer Deceiver." The latter number provides the perfect bookend to the title track, which starts off as dreamy as "Dreamer" before punching into potent metal. Lees' screaming, wailing solos saturate much of the set, often overshadowing Atkins' own work; on "Blood, Demons and Whiskey" and "Drown," Tatler and Johnny Lokke respectively provide much more sympathetic support. Even so, the singer shines on "Cradle to the Grave" and "God Help Me." Atkins may never escape Priest's shadow, but Demon Deceiver proves that just maybe it was the band and not him that lost out. [The Angel Air reissue Demon Deceiver...Plus appends two recent recordings to the original album. "Give Them Hell" sits easily on the set and "A Void to Avoid" stands above it, a pumping hard rocker with crossover appeal and fabulous solos from a guesting Bernie Tormé.]

Demon Deceiver... Plus, Al Atkins
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