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Atkins / May Project

Serpent’s Kiss

Review by Gary Hill

Al Atkins is probably best known as the original lead singer in Judas Priest. I’ve reviewed one of his solo albums and he’s quite good. This latest album is a collaboration between Atkins and Paul May. I’d have to say that it might be a mistake for Atkins.

Sure, it’s a great album. The music here really rocks. The trouble is, many already accuse Atkins of trying to cash in on his Judas Priest connection. With his solo career he steers in a different direction and that takes some of the wind out of the sails of that criticism. Here, though, it’s well deserved. So much of the music (and note, I’m saying the music, not the vocals) feels like an attempt to copy Judas Priest without copying specific tracks. There are couple places where it wanders from that, but some of the other spots the resemblance is almost embarrassing.

I’d love to hear what these guys could do if Paul May didn’t seem like he was trying to create some long lost Al Atkins lead Judas Priest album. I mean, I like this, but sometimes it just feels a little silly because the tribute band-like nature is so heavy. Atkins never tries to sound like Rob Halford, always doing his own thing. In fact, I’d say his performances here are superior to anything on the solo disc I reviewed. I just wish the music had been more original.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
The Shallowing

A killer metal jam opens this. Then it powers from there into an even more screaming arrangement. The vocals come in over this killer swirl of riffing.

Traitors Hand
A pounding metal jam opens this. From there we get an even more powered up jam. This is like a thrash song, but Atkins’ vocals bring it into more proper metal territory. I particularly like the guitar solo on this tune.
Dream Maker
This sounds so much like old school Judas Priest that it’s crazy. As great as the first couple tunes were, this one’s even better. It’s got some more killer guitar soloing.
Can You Hear Me
There’s a smoking hot metal groove here and this is another strong tune. It’s a bit of a change from the rest with a rubbery kind of rhythm section. The killer guitar solo is delightfully noisy, like the best of K.K. Downing’s old school guitar solos.
OK, this one is so much like early Judas Priest that it’s just a little embarrassing. I mean, I know Atkins has the right to do music like that, but what’s Mays' excuse? It’s a good song, but seems incredibly derivative without reflecting any particular tune.
Here’s another that’s quite Priest oriented. It’s got a killer chugging riff that makes it worth looking the other way. Again, the guitar solo is along the lines of something Downing would do, but there seems to be a bit of Ritchie Blackmore in there, too.
While the main riff on this is incredibly Priest like, there’s some killer guitar soloing that make it stand up to the derivative nature. Of course, some of that soloing reminds me of Priest’s “Victim of Changes” or “The Sinner,” but it’s so cool that I can live with that.
Betta Than Twisted
This one’s better. It’s a bit like a more metallic version of Guns N Roses. That makes it one of the winners here.
Cold Gin
Here’s another that’s very cool. This is a metallic cover of the Kiss classic. However, it should be pointed out that even on this cut the music on the instrumental sections seems to be played like someone trying to copy Judas Priest covering Kiss.
Theatre of Fools
If only the rest of the album were like this. There’s really no Priest in the mix here. Instead we get a great modern epic metal sound that’s incredibly cool. Without question this is the best track on show here. It gets taken through several different sections and yet never crosses into Judas Priest like territory.
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