HALFORD have set Crucible as the title of their sophomore studio CD, due through the Metal-Is label on June 25th (one day earlier in the European territory).
Conceived in various American studios during the past 12 months, Crucible is the long-awaited studio follow-up to HALFORD's critically-acclaimed 2000 debut album, Resurrection.
According to the band's official biography, Crucible is an album that retains all the numerous strengths of its predecessor, yet takes the band's sound to a stunning new plateau. Cloaked in [ex-JUDAS PRIEST frontman] Rob [Halford]'s trademark banshee wails and boasting exemplary duelling guitars from Patrick Lachman and Mike Chlasciak, such rip-roaring anthems as 'Betrayal' earmarked to be the album's first video in June 'Wrath Of God', 'Handing Out Bullets' and the salutatory 'One Will' are all destined be heralded as classic HALFORD moments.
I think I've penetrated even closer to the heart of the metal community with this new album, Rob proudly stated. It shows all the wonderful things that metal really means to me, and we've offered many different ways of presenting it to the listener. But we've also tried to advance the sound so that it fits comprehensively into today's musical world. With Resurrection, I set myself up as having made a great metallic comeback. It was important to me that we didn't let anybody down with the follow-up, but it would have disappointed everybody more if we'd just made Resurrection II.
Of course, it would have been easy to have just stuck with the formula again," he continued. "To have done that would have been numbing for everybody. I wanted to prove that I am still Rob Halford the metal god, and all those other things but that also to show that I can still pull something unexpected out of the hat. I've consistently tried to shake things up throughout my career, and I've managed it again.
After HALFORD's appearance at Rock In Rio festival in January 2001, Rob hooked up with the two guitar players in Room 303 of the Park Manor Hotel (hence the title of the album's feedback-strewn instrumental scene-setter), which is close to his home in San Diego, and over the course of the next three months they proceeded to infuriate the Park Manor's residents with all manner of ungodly sounds as the record slowly took shape. We worked for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, recalled Rob, and I think we've managed to surpass Resurrection.
Crucible was once again overseen by Roy Z, the hotshot young producer who has also collaborated with BRUCE DICKINSON, DOWNSET, ROADSAW and HELLOWEEN. Roy also helped to write several of the songs, including "Crucible", "Trail Of Tears" and "Crystal". Explained Rob: I felt that even though Roy did such a great job with Resurrection, he still had a lot more to give. So it made good sense to use him again, and Roy really went over the top this time, it's no exaggeration to say that he's now become the unofficial sixth member of this band.
Lyrically, Halford states that many of the songs on Crucible address things that are happening in the world at the moment, instead of writing from personal experience as he mainly did on Resurrection. When asked to describe the album to someone who might not be completely aware of the HALFORD/PRIEST legacy, he chuckles. To me, it could even be called metal with a dictionary. I'm always looking for new things to say.
As Rob has already intimated, in terms of sheer musical diversity, Crucible offers more than a few surprises. While the track "Crucible", for instance, is a powerful, thoroughly convincing hard rock tune, it also incorporates a slight Gothic feel. "Hearts Of Darkness" is built around an Eastern-flavoured melody, though the tune's underlying crunch is indisputable. And "Sun", with its blissful mid-paced feel and layered guitars, is perhaps the biggest departure for HALFORD especially when it comes to Rob's vocals performance.
Yeah, 'Sun' is definitely an unusual track, and so is 'Crystal' musically, they're both quite edgy, he stated. The really strange thing is that I can't remember where the idea for 'Sun' came from, at first it was just a little riff, but we built the song around the song's melody. And that's the great thing about this album it's well-balanced and complete. Although there are lots and lots of metal riffs, we also take the listener on a deep, interesting journey. It's a metal banquet, really.
As he and the rest of the HALFORD unit prepare to hit the road once again, Rob looks back with great affection upon the Resurrection tour. So consistent were the performances of HALFORD (the band), and equally receptive the audiences right across the globe that he is somewhat reluctant to select highlights.
The wonderful thing was that the audiences seemed as keen to see me as I was to see them, he smiled. It was great for the shows that we did in the my homeland of the UK to have been so rammed to the rafters, and I hope to come back and play a longer British tour this time around. But, to me, every show was important whether it was in Europe, Japan or North or South America the metal maniacs were going crazy every single night, and that entire tour was an affirmation of everything I'm about.
HALFORD's world trek begins in front of 25,000 punters with a headline spot at the Sweden Rock festival on June 7th, and is scheduled to continue well into 2003.
The full track listing for Crucible is as follows (in no particular order):
02. One Will
03. Rock The World Forever
05. In The Morning
08. Hearts Of Darkness
12. Trail Of Tears
14. Wrath Of God
15. Handing Out Bullets
16. Park Manor