It's the end of an era, headbangers! Legendary Judas Priest guitarist K.K. Downing has formally and officially retired from the band after 40 years of service. Downing's retirement is effective immediately and he will not be joining Priest on the band's upcoming "Epitaph" tour, which will be its final world tour of its storied career.

Judas Priest issued the following statement regarding their mate's decision, revealing that they will continue to their swan song tour without Downing.

"The band respects his decision and naturally all wish him well. Having though long and hard about how to proceed, Rob, Glenn, Ian and Scott unanimously agreed that they should go ahead with the tour and not let the fans down all around the world."

31-year-old British guitarist Richie Faulkner will replace Downing, 59, on the final tour. The band labeled Faulkner "a great talent who is going to help set the stage on fire."

The "Epitaph" tour will feature songs from every single one of Priest's studio albums along with tunes that they have never performed live! Since this is Priest's final time trekking across the planet, expect lasers, lights, bikes, hellfire and lots of soaring metal that'll cause you to throw two horns in the air.

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A new album is on tap for release next ear, as well. Clearly, Judas Priest know how to make an exit.