JUDAS PRIEST fans who are desperately hoping for a reunion with vocalist Rob Halford on the group's next studio offering will be reassured by the fact that the sales of both PRIEST's and Halford's post-split efforts have gone steadily downhill since the singer announced his departure from the band back in 1992. Even though JUDAS PRIEST's last studio album with Halford, 1990's Painkiller, was certified gold for sales of over 500,000 copies in the US in January 1991, the band's subsequent releases—1997's Jugulator and 2001's Demolition—have shifted only a fraction of that amount. Meanwhile, Halford's solo attempts—first with FIGHT, then with TWO, and finally with HALFORD—started out strong, but quickly lost steam, with the vocalist's most recent studio CD, 2000's Resurrection, having failed to break the 60,000 mark (according to Soundscan), despite having garnered excellent reviews and been widely hailed as the album PRIEST should have made after Painkiller.
Here are the exact Soundscan figures for all the releases in question for the week ending December 30th, 2001:
FIGHT - War Of Words (1994): 223,385
FIGHT - Small Deadly Space (1995): 67,253
TWO - Voyeurs (1998): 47,431
HALFORD - Resurrection (2000): 58,933
HALFORD - Live Insurrection (2001): 22,449
JUDAS PRIEST - Jugulator (1997): 107,707
JUDAS PRIEST - Demolition (2001): 36,457
What does all this mean? Well, while it is unlikely that a JUDAS PRIEST reunion album with Halford would shift more than, say, 200,000 units (a number that is comparable to the Soundscan figure for IRON MAIDEN's comeback release with singer Bruce Dickinson, 2000's Brave New World), it would still be substantially more than another PRIEST CD with Tim “Ripper” Owens or a new HALFORD studio album would likely sell, thereby making it highly probable that the prospect of such a reunion will be seriously entertained following the release of HALFORD's forthcoming CD, which is tentatively due through Metal-Is Records in April. The chances of such a reunion are even greater when you consider the fact that JUDAS PRIEST's new US record label, Atlantic Records, must have paid a substantial amount (relatively speaking) for the rights to the group's most recent offering, the god-awful Demolition, only to see it move a measly 36,457 copies to date, according to Soundscan. And let's face it: unless Halford rejoins the group in time for the recording of the band's next effort, Atlantic ain't gonna be coughing up the cash for the group to do another one.
Before we close this subject, let's make it clear: the prospect of an imminent PRIEST reunion with Halford is nothing but speculation at this point, and it should not be accepted as “fact” until it is announced by an official source. However, in light of the above figures and facts, any thinking person could rightfully assume that the next JUDAS PRIEST studio CD will feature the vocals of Rob Halford. After all, it's the only scenario that makes any sense.
On a related note, Rob Halford is scheduled to participate in an online chat on January 18th from 1:00 PM until 2:00 PM (Pacific/California time). If you wish to take part in the chat, head over to www.themetalgod.com and register.