Judas Priest - Angel of Retribution
Sony
53 minutes
TyreeReview by:  Tyree

Judas Priest - Angel of Retribution

Disc 1
1)  Judas Rising
2)  Deal With the Devil 
3)  Revolution 
4)  Worth Fighting For 
5)  Demonizer 

6)  Wheels of Fire 
7)  Angel 
8)  Hellrider 
9)  Eulogy 
10)  Lochness 

Disc 2 - Bonus DVD
Live documentary from "Reunited"
Tour Summer 2004.
1)  Breaking the Law
2)  Metal Gods
3)  A Touch of Evil
4)  Hell Bent for Leather
5)  The Hellion / Electric Eye
6)  Diamond & Rust
7)  Living After Midnight
 

I must confess, I have only ever been a casual Judas Priest fan. Sure, I go absolutely crazy for the anthems everybody knows, ("Breaking The Law", "Painkiller", "You've Got Another Thing Comin'", et al.) but all the rest of the songs on any given Priest album sort of just sounded like filler.  Priest were a band with a valuable skill in the music industry: the knack for writing a Big Hit Single. Now, with Angel of Retribution, their first album with lead vocalist Rob Halford since 1990's Painkiller it appears Judas Priest may finally be losing that knack. Instead, they have served up an album where every single song stands out on its own.  In a way, Angel of Retribution sounds like a "greatest hits" album composed of entirely new songs.  There is something here that represents every single style the band has ever worked in, from the thrashers of the '90's back to the nasty blues metal of the early '70's. 

Ian, KK, Rob, Glen, and ScottThe opening track, "Judas Rising," is apocalyptic both musically and lyrically. It's clearly designed to prove to fans that the band can still "deliver the goods." Halford fans will find plenty to sink their teeth into here as he lets no high note go un-hit.  The fast-paced "Deal With The Devil" is the band's ode to themselves for being such badass heavy metal veterans. But the chorus is so catching and the guitar riffing so relentless that it stays with you. Besides, Priest have earned it.  They slow things down somewhat for "Revolution", which evokes they '70's heyday of albums such as Sad Wings of Destiny and Stained Class. And no Judas Priest album would be complete without a biker anthem and "Wheel's Of Fire" fills that role here. Just keep guitarists Glen Tipton and K.K. Downing's impressive fretwork in your mind and try to keep the image of Halford in his leather chaps out of it.  Amidst all this chaos, the band slows things down for the ballads "Angel" and "Worth Fighting For." Ballads aren't new territory for Judas Priest, but in these you will hear something you've probably never heard in a Judas Priest song before: Ian Hill's bass guitar.  Why this guy has spent 30+ years letting Tipton, Downing, and Halford treat him like Metallica treated Jason Newstead is beyond me, but it's nice to learn that he actually exists and plays an instrument.  Listen closely though, because it's still awfully low in the mix. Another soft song is "Eulogy," but I'd hardly call it a ballad. With the dark, gloomy atmosphere it evokes and Halford's atmospheric, mournful recitation it really does conjure images of walking the windswept English countryside at night and seeing some terrible rite take place...Don't fear that Priest have gone soft, however.  "Hellrider" and "Demonizer" are a pair of brutal thrashers that show off drummer Scott Travis's double-bass skills beautifully and are every bit as brutal as the heaviest songs the band has ever done.  Rounding out the album is the ten minute epic "Lochness." I'm not sure why a band like Judas Priest would choose the thoroughly-discredited legend of the Loch Ness Monster as a subject for a song at this stage in their career. But hey, they pull it off a lot better than Spinal Tap pulled off that "Stonehenge" song. To their credit, the band gives their all on this number to the point that, like a really good episode of "The X-Files", it leaves you wanting to believe... unless you hated "The X-Files," in which case it leaves you wanting to believe something you think is stupid. Either way, Judas Priest wins. And that's a good way to sum up Angel of Retribution in general. It's a hell of a statement from a hell of a band who only seem to become more focused as time goes by. Four out of five stars.

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Judas Rising
Wheels of Fire
Hellrider


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