No, JP can never be the "same." But that's really not the issue for me. I only care if the new lineup is as good in its own way. I loved the Epitaph tour. They sounded as great as always to me. And I like the songs I've heard so far.
If this new JP release isn't "classic" enough for people, it probably has little to do with the replacement guitarist and more to do with Halford's evolving vocals. So far this release sounds as much like "Halford" as it does 1980s "Judas Priest"--and that's okay by me! I loved Rob's solo stuff, especially "Halford."
JP is not the same without K.K. I love Richie though, he's an awesome guitar player and shredder. I love the "new" lineup, enjoy the Priest while you can, they won't be around forever you know! Long Live the Priest!