Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing has once again defended the band's controversial symphonic heavy metal concept double album about Nostradamus, saying it was "something original" which allowed him and his then-bandmates to show what they "could actually do as musicians."
Released in 2008, the two-CD, 23-track journey through the life of the controversial, 16th-century prophet was criticized by fans for not sounding like classic PRIEST and for consisting almost entirely of slow, doomy, operatic, keyboard-heavy anthems, apart from a token couple of mid-tempo songs.
Speaking to The Flying V Documentary TV Channel, Downing said about "Nostradamus" (see video below): "A lot of people probably don't understand or quite get 'Nostradamus', but it was great for us — it was great for us to express and to exhibit what we could actually do as musicians. And also it was something original. And I love it.
"The downfall of 'Nostradamus' was probably the one thing that I actually thought, naively, was gonna be the best thing about 'Nostradamus', and that is the fact that I wanted to take people back to how it used to be," he continued.
"Years ago, when you had a big concept album, like when I first got [THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE's] 'Electric Ladyland', for example, we used to go in our bedroom, close the curtains, put the headphones on and just disappear into our world for however long it took to get through the album and just absorb it and just be at one with it. And I wanted people to experience 'Nostradamus' like that."
"Nostradamus" shifted 42,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at No. 11. At the time, this was the band's highest-ever chart position in the U.S. In Canada, the CD opened at position No. 9 after moving close to 4,000 units.
Back in 2018, Downing described "Nostradamus" as "our chance to create something different in the music place that we don't always go to. We have lots of great musicals, and we go into great, prestigious venues, like the Royal Albert Hall or Carnegie Hall — great theaters around the place," he said. "To create something and not let everyone else have all of the spoils — 'Phantom Of The Opera' and 'Cats' and all of these musicals and stuff like that. Why can't we, JUDAS PRIEST, put something that's rock and metal into that musical and entertainment place?
"Okay, we might have been going off on a tangent, getting on the wrong track as far as everybody wanting a [classic-sounding] JUDAS PRIEST record, but looking at the bigger picture of broadening the scope and the horizons of what a rock and metal band can do, it's an opportunity kind of missed through no fault of anyone's except our own record company and management, or whatever, decisions," he continued. "It wasn't to be, and probably it was a good decision. But it's a dream — it's a dream for me. I often think about it."
Downing's autobiography, "Heavy Duty: Days And Nights In Judas Priest", was released in September 2018 via Da Capo Press.