So much for saying goodbye! Judas Priest, who are embarking on a farewell tour aptly dubbed 'The Epitaph World Tour,' may be hanging up their laminates and tour knapsacks, but they are still writing new material for an album due in 2012. In fact, singer Rob Halford reveals that he and guitarist Glenn Tipton have penned at least 12 new songs.

Halford tells Billboard that he and Tipton began writing songs before the tour. "We have about 12 or 14 tracks completely mapped out, four of which have been recorded and mixed and are ready to go," the "Metal God" divulges. "So the good news is that there will be a brand new Priest record next year."

That's good news for new touring guitarist Richie Faulkner, who stepped into the boots vacated by longtime guitarist K.K. Downing when he shockingly retired from the band and chose to sit out the Epitaph World Tour earlier this year. Faulkner will now have the chance to put his stamp on the Priest catalog.

Whatever the case, Halford believes that the next Priest album "is going to be just another great, traditional British heavy metal album from Priest with what you love about the band -- the riffs, the screaming vocals, all of the tradition and heritage that we try to keep somehow in our music as we've moved along." Deal us in! That sounds as metal as it gets.

As a result, the "Epitaph" tour name is a misnomer. Halford contends that this is not the end of Priest but the start of a more streamlined version, at least when it comes to touring.

"We're just cutting back on these big, long treks around the world that we love to do," he explains. "But yet we're facing mortality; as a metal singer I'm still able to do the vast majority of things that have laid out before me ... but I'd be the first to admit that I'm finding it more challenging now, and I don't want to get into that syndrome where you end up a little bit punch-drunk and you're not giving the performance that you want to give. I'm delighted that we're taking this approach because the inevitable payoff is that it gives the band more life. We're able to continue doing selective shows in the future and, as importantly, keep recording and making new metal records."

On the horizon for the band could be a live show revolving around 2008's conceptual 'Nostradamus.' That means the band would do a manageable tour where they play the album in its entirety. While fans will never tire of 'Living After Midnight' or 'Painkiller' or 'Breaking the Law,' the band could be rejuvenated by playing 'Nostradamus' front to back.

In the meantime, check out our recent feature 11 Things You Didn't Know About Rob Halford that we recenlty published in honor of his 60th birthday.