It is an incredible forty years since Al Atkins formed the legendary Judas Priest, one of the greatest heavy metal bands ever. To mark the occasion, Angel Air Records have re-released his 2007 solo album Demon Deceiver and in the process have added a couple of welcome bonus tracks.
Its release also marks the publication of Atkins' book, co-written with Neil Daniels, called Dawn Of The Heavy Metal Gods: My Life In Judas Priest & Heavy Metal. This should prove to be an excellent read.
Much has already been written about the birth of Priest in the Midlands in the late sixties, of course. It is a well-known fact that just as they were on the verge of releasing their first album Rocka Rolla, Atkins left to be replaced by the "metal god" himself, Rob Halford. The rest, as they say, is history.
Ever since, his name has been inextricably linked to that of Priest. As he says in the liner notes to this re-release, it has proved something of “a blessing and a curse”. His solo career got underway when his band Al Atkins A.N.D. released Judgement Day in 1989. Dreams Of Avalon followed in 1992. Next came Heavy Thoughts in 1995, an album that didn’t appear in the UK until 2003.
The Priest connection rears its head again on that album when he re-recorded “Cavier And Moths” which he had co-written whilst still with them. This led to the release of Victims Of Changes in 1998, an album that contained tracks written by Atkins back in Priest’s early days.
In 2007, he self-financed and self-produced his album Demon Deceiver. With an impressive guest line-up that included Diamond Head’s Brian Tatler, and Budgie guitarist Simon Lees, it attracted many glowing reviews. More recently, Atkins has formed another band, The Holy Rage who have already supported Skid Row and Diamond Head.
One of the bonus tracks on Demon Deceiver…Plus is “Give Them Hell”, a track written with his new band very much in mind. Also making a welcome re-appearance, is a 2009 version of “A Void To Avoid”, which originally appeared on Heavy Thoughts and features guitar legend Bernie Torme.