Feed On Me

“They are dying on the dance floor, they are lying in debris …”

DEM03

Origins

The second album of Judas Priest’s Ripper Owens era, “Demolition” is not often mentioned in the annals of Judas Priest as one of their land mark efforts. That credit usually is reserved to any number of albums the band recorded between 1976 and 1990. Even their reunion CD “Angel Of Retribution” is in many metal specialist circles nowadays regarded as classic return to form. “Demolition” was released in the summer of 2001 almost four years after previous studio album “Jugulator.” Of course in between a live disc “98 Live Meltdown” had seen the light of day.

“Demolition” took a long time to record, the band having begun writing sessions in early 1999 after completing touring for “Jugulator.” By the end of millennium, recording was well on its way and album practically promised for early 2000. Video clips of guitarists working out riffs were posted on the website and the momentum seemed to be building nicely towards the release. But for various reasons it took almost 20 months from that moment on before “Demolition” finally reached the shops. The album of course was much anticipated amongst the band’s huge fan base and since the first single “Machine Man” backed with “Subterfuge” appeared, speculations on the musical direction was running wild.

The album was largely led by Glenn Tipton’s vision and production. At the time, grunge had all but vanished from the music scene and was now being replaced by a new nu-metal and industrial explosion. Traditional heavy metal’s resurrection was still awaiting couple of years ahead, although new bands such as Hammerfall were starting to break through basing their sound on Priest and other classic acts from previous decades. The reception to “Jugulator” had varied from mixed to decent and the band opted to return to more traditional approach, whilst retaining the down tuned sound of “Blood Stained” and “Death Row” from “Jugulator.” In addition there was still an attempt to modernize Priest’s soundscape to collide with what was going on in the metal world in 2001.

While certain sound of mostly guitars and dark arrangements in places harked back to “Jugulator,” overall “Demolition” was more varied and lighter effort. The last number “Metal Messiah” even introduced rap into Priest’s catalogue. “Cyberface” and “Devil Digger” were rooted in the industrial metal wave then quite popular all around the world. The latter even bore some resemblance to Marilyn Manson who was one of the world’s most popular artists at the time. There were also songs that marked Priest’s return to more trademark, classic heavy metal, most notably the hard hitting “One On One,” power ballad “Close To You” and “Bloodsuckers” – latter inflicting band’s frustration over the ludicrous court case in Reno 10 years earlier. Following its release, the band was seemingly excited in this vast collection of songs, Ripper Owens has stated afterwards that “Demolition” was his favourite album that he did with the group, claiming it had “better vocals and more melody.”

With 13 tracks in all, the album was the most lengthy in Priest’s career so far. It also lasted a whopping 70 minutes, which is almost painfully usual nowadays in the digital age. The bands are continuing to fill the albums right up to maximum, without sparing any thought to quality. With the exception of some more brutal death and thrash metal acts, this has been a problem with all of metal’s various genres where a listener’s interest simply doesn’t keep up after a 50-minute point. With “Demolition” Priest were able to offer enough versatility to maintain decent amount of focus. Also included in the limited edition were re-recordings of two Priest classics; “Rapid Fire” and “Green Manalishi.”

“Demolition” is the sole album in Judas Priest back catalogue following 1978’s “Killing Machine” where writing credits were spread more across the board and also the first album since that same release not to have K.K. Downing credited as a song writer on every (original) Priest song. Priest’s former producer Chris Tsangarides, who co-wrote the song “A Touch of Evil” on the “Painkiller” album, assisted Tipton in the writing of a few songs and even drummer Scott Travis co-wrote the track “Cyberface”, marking his first and so far only contribution to song writing in the band’s history. This was also the first album since “Painkiller” to feature a guest appearance by keyboardist Don Airey, who had previously played on the aforementioned “A Touch of Evil”. K.K. still co-wrote most of the album, however “Feed On Me,” the 9th track of the album and the song under close scrutiny here is fully credited to Glenn Tipton. It is a tune rarely played live and one not usually mentioned even when discussion ventures into this album. It is however, a song worth giving a more in-depth look.

“Feed On Me” follows “In Between” in a point which normally would be side two on an LP. Due to its length the “Demolition” LP actually has four sides and there the song takes position on third side after “In Between” and before “Subterfuge.” The song begins with a keyboard effect sound, at first not too dissimilar to anything previously heard on 1986’s “Turbo.” Soon guitars start to crank some soft chords in very different fashion (this part sounding very much like classic Judas Priest) before a first proper riff (played by Glenn) kicks in at around 0:21. Now instead of up-sounding guitars on “Turbo,” this is definitely down tuned arrangement more related to band’s regular Owens-era material. However, the charging rhythm is essential Judas Priest, second guitar joins in for a quick second round and song is on its way.

When Ripper starts singing the first verse, a fan is impressed once again by the sheer power of music on display. This is something Priest have mastered unlike any other classic heavy metal band with exception of maybe Scorpions and Accept in their best moments. Vocal melody is excellent with classic Priest style guitar riffing in the background, power chords supplying the foundation of the arrangement. Production at this point is also akin to a lot of records released in the turn of the century. Scott Travis kicks in with excellent fills at the start of the verse and in between them, giving extra push for Ripper and guitars to take the song forward. For example check out parts at 1:06, 1:36 and again at 1:51. This song is a great example of his simpler, more straightforward playing not too often heard on these Ripper-era albums.

From 1:18 to 1:22 rhythm guitar gets noticeably louder before power chords return with softer arrangement along with Ripper’s voice. Ripper sings mostly with his upper mid-range register basically only venturing into higher sounding voice on the song’s final line. His voice has great power in it perfectly supporting guitars, which really dominate the song. Guitars seemingly use many different sounding patterns throughout making the song ebb and flow. The music comes to a full stop when the chorus begins and Ripper belts out the songs title in lower, sinister range. The rhythm never lets up and the music always switches gears as the song hurdles towards either another verse, chorus or a bridge. Another sure fire sign of Priest’s greatness.

Second verse has Ripper singing verse in a harmony with himself, dropping the pace slightly. Notice also guitar adding higher chords in the background. These are the kind of solutions Priest always excelled at, not settling to simply repeat the verse arrangement but making subtle additions thus taking the whole song up to another level.

During the bridge, keyboard effect comes in at 2:22 sounding like percussive instrument. After rougher sounding bridge riff and a higher guitar part, it is time for a lead break which rapidly takes over. K.K. plays the guitar solo and does fine job here. Solo lasts 15 seconds and is carried out somewhat unusually with rhythm guitar chunking alongside in background. Otherwise lead break is a great display of Downing’s trademark style with quick bends and fast notes. Guitar riffs, keyboard effects and generally arrangement choices offer excellent versatility throughout 2:57 to 3:08. Also drums play interesting rhythm pattern behind lead break.

Eventually the song winds down for a slower section and this time around Ripper sounds a bit like Marilyn Manson. He has also doubled his vocals with a higher part slightly lower in the mix. This is an interesting vocal arrangement, of which they are many examples throughout this album. Compared to “Jugulator” Ripper is using his voice more moderately instead of simply grunting or screaming. After Ripper leading us though the impressive slower section, guitar part at 3:41 sounds very much like Accept on their 1994’s “Death Row.” An interesting nod as “Death Row” is one of metal’s great forgotten albums.

Listen to Ian Hill’s bass becoming substantially more audible after the 4-minute mark. His bass naturally drives the song, but is often buried under percussive sounds so it is great to hear it properly once again. Keyboard percussion returns with drums really pounding and punching their way through the song. The first verse is repeated before final chorus takes the song to its conclusion.

Ripper finally concludes with “don’t accept defeat!” in rightfully defiant manner. Drum fills signal the end of the final chorus and another guitar solo. The outro lead is once again delivered by K.K. and brilliantly adds to his previous solo being relatively fast and melodic, with excellent sharp as steel sounding pull-ons. Similar to first solo, rhythm guitar briefly adds colour to the lead break with heavy strokes from 4:36 to 4:44. Drums also get noticeably louder at this point really pounding the song towards the finish line.

After Ripper shrieks “feed on me!” once, holding the note for ten seconds, the song finally ends in a chaotic noise with first guitar feedback and then keyboard parts taking over. Guitar is playing a sole chord alongside a single keyboard sound which extends up to 40 seconds in length before ending abruptly. “Subterfuge” follows almost immediately and despite having some neat melodies, comes much closer to what some branded as pure nu-metal fusion at the time.

When one examines “Feed On Me’s” message, while its tale of desperate men fighting to carry on instantly sounds like another call to arms, a topic thoroughly explored by heavy metal bands and Judas Priest themselves in the past. However, we do not take the easy route here as hinted by the songs title it draws our attention towards vampires. Bearing this in mind, “Feed On Me” acts in many ways as a sequel to such previous Priest songs as “Love Bites” and “Touch Of Evil,” which contained similar themes. Of course interpretations may vary and there is no right or wrong way to approach this number. However, following the story from this angle certainly offers a more captivating look on “Feed On Me.” Another thing to point out is that the song actually is not sung by a vampire like the aforementioned two tracks, but a potential victim who embraces the thought of giving his blood to the living dead, multiple urgings of “feed on me” seem to strengthen this intention.

The opening line “they are dying on the dance floor” could of course refer to bloodbath literally explored in movies such as the Blade-franchise or a dance floor could be seen as a metaphor to the streets and cities where these forlorn creatures dwell. “They are lying on debris” continues this theme of apocalyptic destruction and state of the vampires is explored further with “they are fading with exhaustion from the mortal injuries.” If you flip this view to ordinary men and women now facing threat, the scope becomes even more intriguing. Mortal injuries also implies these creatures are not human nor of this world. Death is not only written on their face but they are in fact, dead.

Chorus reinforces the point “when your will to live is all but gone, and you’re left alone” and then it is suggested outright by protagonist that they should “feed on me.” Second verse with its opening line “they are outgunned and outnumbered” brings forward a storyline made famous by several vampire movies throughout the last couple of decades. Mostly these deal with the race of vampires being underdogs or fighting to gain domain over mankind. Writing freedom with their own blood is another ironic nod to this direction.

On the part “feed on me, I got what you need”, protagonist in the tale is more than willing to be sacrificed and eventually enslaved by eternal life. “Feed on me if you need to breathe” is making it bluntly clear. The song ends with order they should not accept defeat. Instead the battle will gear up for another round. Of course all of this could also relate to inner strength which one feeds upon to survive life’s setbacks. An anthem on individuality is something Priest always excelled at, and with its powerful music, “Feed On Me” certainly supports the song’s cause.

Whatever the song’s true intent might be, these interpretations offer an interesting view on the lyrical depth. Compared to somewhat simplistic nature of “Jugulator” this album has generally stories more worth sinking your teeth into. Even the much-discussed “Metal Messiah” is lyrically more dimensional than one might first imagine. Then of course there are songs like “One On One” and “Machine Man” where you take them for what they are, without too much analysing.

DEM02

“Feed On Me” live

Throughout the lengthy “Demolition”- tour, Priest played handful of new album tracks in their live show. Three songs, first single “Machine Man”, the anthem like “One On One” and slower, more powerful “Hell Is Home” were integral part of the show right from the start. During the November 2001 Scandinavian tour Priest replaced “Machine Man” with “Feed On Me” and kept alternating the two songs through following Australian ja Japanese treks. By the time Priest played in London Brixton Academy on December 19th 2001 they announced a longer set to be filmed and recorded for their first ever DVD release. A longer set was previewed at the tail end of the Japan tour few days earlier. Notable additions were rarely played “Running Wild,” “Desert Plains” and even “Turbo Lover” making its first appearance for over a decade.

The show was captured live on tape and in front of several cameras. Results can be viewed via “Live In London” DVD which was released sometime after the show in 2002. An audio equivalent was made available as the last release of Ripper Owens-era, in early 2003. “Feed On Me” appears towards the mid-part of the set after the bands has romped through a selection of Priest standards such as “Metal Gods” and “Victim Of Changes” coupled with some new material. This live version of “Feed On Me” encompasses even harder edge than its studio counterpart. Intro is understandably cut short and Ripper screams several times before the opening guitar riff takes over. Another small but interesting addition to original arrangement.

K.K. again delivers an astounding outro solo towards the end, extending the solo slightly presenting his trademark licks and bends before the song ends. Unsurprisingly with this still being relatively new addition to show, the band in the early part of the song are still slightly trying to nail its final tempo and form. Undoubtedly this would have been locked in later and all in all it seemed “Feed On Me” was set to became Priest live staple.

Unfortunately the song did not stay in the set list after this and was dropped in the beginning of 2002’s US tour. “One On One” and “Hell Is Home” remained the sole choices from “Demolition” until the summer tour of 2002 when “Bloodsuckers” was introduced as the new opening number. As of now, the London performance is the only officially released live version of “Feed On Me.” Thus it is a stroke of luck it got reserved for posterity.

The last show Priest would play with Ripper Owens on vocals took place at the House of Blues in Chicago August 25th in 2002. At that point the band had been on the road for more or less 14 months, with some weeks of rest in between various legs. “Live In London” CD was released sometime after this but by the following summer Rob Halford had reunited with the band. Ripper in turn replaced Matthew Barlow as the lead vocalist in US metal giants Iced Earth. The Owens-era nowadays gets very little attention and besides occasional airings at Ripper’s solo shows, no material from the two records made with him, have been heard in live concerts since the tour of 2001-2002. Some of the live material issued from those years prove the band was still a force to be reckoned with and continued to shred both new material and older Priest classics with same style and substance familiar to the band since its inception.

DEM01

Legacy

Generally not much space nowadays is given to “Demolition” – in the annals of Judas Priest’s history, let alone in the history of heavy metal. True enough, it might not be the band’s finest hour. But to disregard it completely is a miscalculation at best. The album even with its considerable length and fragmentation contains enough classic Priest moments to keep it solidly in line with band’s back catalogue.

Although fans now don’t talk much about the record, or shrug it off as a forgotten piece of work, at the time of its release it got fairly good reviews. Classic Rock even awarded “Demolition” four stars, with long time Priest specialist Malcolm Dome commending its versatility: “This is a team effort and one which has resulted in arguably their finest studio album in some 15 years. “Demolition” is the album Judas Priest needed to make if they were to be taken seriously in contemporary metal. There’s enough here to suggest that Priest could pick up a whole new audience.” This was a time when classic rock and metal bands still generally got less than favourable reviews from the media, so Priest getting an accolade was even more noteworthy. Although printing alongside the review song titles from the new Iggy Pop-album “Beat ‘Em Up” was an ironical mistake indeed (titles included such hilarities as “Ugliness” and “It’s All Shit”).

Classic Rock’s sister magazine Metal Hammer was slightly more subdued, though stating “Demolition” “ought to receive more mainstream attention than the band have had in years.” Third UK publication, Terrorizer was less than thrilled citing band’s lyrics sans Halford-era as their biggest setback. However, even there some positive nuances could be found: “Credit must go to Glenn Tipton for his bone-crunching production job, which will undoubtedly prompt more than a few ´this is Judas Priest!’ type incredulous remarks as the band glide effortlessly into 21st century technological realms.”

“Feed On Me” was one of the album’s more melodic and accessible cuts, thus an edited version was released as a promo CD possibly to gain extra radio airplay. Considering the musical climate at the time the song could have made serious waves in charts if it was released as a single and promoted properly. “Feed On Me” with its driving rhythm also recalls Ronnie James Dio’s greatest moments, so it is definitely rooted in the classic Priest style of heavy metal.

The album’s downfall of sorts is often pointed towards its occasional nods to nu-metal, which was at the peak of its popularity when “Demolition” was released. Nu-metal got out of style very quickly and nowadays, although style’s pioneers Korn, Slipknot and Limp Bizkit still tour and record actively, the term nu-metal has all but fizzled out. Also it’s among the most dividing genres amongst fans and music critics, some still praise the bands for giving a fresh kick to the scene much like grunge did a decade before. Some do not think this style is even related to heavy metal as such. Yet industrial influenced bands like Sonic Syndicate, Spineshank, Pitchshifter and Soilwork continue to tour and make records successfully almost 15 years after “Demolition” got bashed for incorporating a small bit of similar elements. In 2001, a song like “Feed On Me” didn’t really get the attention it deserved even if the album was receiving praise.

At the time of the album’s release Glenn Tipton openly admitted having listened to his son for advice on teenagers then current favourites. Having bounced off some ideas, it was still important to him and for Priest to be the trend setters and not followers. Priest’s role to stay aboard on new sounds and musical styles can be seen throughout their career, even if they didn’t necessarily create any particular style. However, throughout their career they did define the most important one: the sound of traditional heavy metal.

So at the end of the day, what is there left to say of the legacy of “Feed On Me” and indeed the whole “Demolition” album? In the current landscape of metal, the answer might not be instantly obvious. It is telling that the band chose to feature this track along with “Machine Man” on the career-spanning box set “Metalogy” in 2004, when reunion with Rob Halford was in full swing. As a matter of fact it finishes that mammoth collection in fine style. After 14 years have passed, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the music “Demolition” contains. At the end of the day, “Feed On Me” is a heavy metal song in the classic Judas Priest tradition and certainly deserves another look from any ardent metal fan.

With acknowledgements: Judas Priest Info Pages

demolition

“Demolition” stats

  • Written by Glenn Tipton
  • Recorded at Silvermere Studios, Surrey, England and Riverside Studios, England
  • Produced by Glenn Tipton
  • First released on “Demolition” album in July 2001
  • Also released
    “Feed On Me (radio edit)/Feed On Me” released in 2001 by Atlantic Recordings (US Cat. # PRCD 800612 promo only
  • Also released on “Metalogy” in 2004
  • Live version also released on “Live In London” in 2003

K.K.:

“Thanks Ville once again for a great write up and assessment of “Feed On Me” from our second album with Tim “Ripper” Owens. “Demolition” I think it is fair to say, may well not be amongst your favourite Priest albums. However, after all this time I would like to invite you to have another listen to see something there that you may have missed the first time around. There is no doubt that Ripper is a great vocalist and I am very grateful to him for taking on the daunting task of stepping into Rob`s shoes and keeping Priest alive. Please check out this clip from “Live In London.” It includes “Feed On Me” and “Hell Is Home” with “Burn In Hell” thrown in the middle. I believe this was shot in 2001 at the Brixton Academy. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed playing these songs, as this was to me a very important and special era in Priest history!”

“Feed On Me” lyrics

They are dying on the dance floor
They are lying in debris
They are fading with exhaustion
From the mortal injuries

They are hungry and need feeding
They’ve resigned themselves to fate
They are desperate men
Death’s written on their face

When your will to live
Is all but gone
And you’re left alone
But you need someone – Feed on me
Feed on me

They’re outgunned and they’re outnumbered
But they’ll never turn to run
And the ‘in name of freedom’s’
Written with their blood

Some would call them mercenary
But they always knew the pain
Inevitably far outweighs the gain

Feed on me
Feed on me if you need to breath
Feed on me

When your hunger strikes you down again
And you feel your inner strength has drained – Feed on me
Feed on me

Feed on me – I got what you need
Feed on me
Feed on me – don’t accept defeat

They are dying on the dance floor
They are lying in debris
They are fading with exhaustion
From the mortal injuries

Some would call them mercenary
But they always knew the pain
Inevitably far outweighs the gain

When your will to live has almost gone
And you’re left alone and you need someone
Feed on me
Feed on me

Feed on me
Feed on me – I got what you need
Feed on me
Feed on me – don’t accept defeat

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About Ville Krannila