Judas Priest - 2005 Angel Of Retribution

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ARTIST: Judas Priest
ALBUM: Angel Of Retribution
LABEL: Sony
SERIAL: 519300 2
YEAR: 2005

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Rob Halford - vocals * K.K Downing - guitars * Glenn Tipton - guitars * Ian Hill - bass * Scott Travis - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Judas Rising * 02 Deal With The Devil * 03 Revolution * 04 Worth Fighting For * 05 Demonizer * 06 Wheels Of Fire * 07 Angel * 08 Hellrider * 09 Eulogy * 10 Loch Ness

RATING: image

Background

Rob Halford's departure in 1992, his replacement 'Ripper' Owens, two dud albums 'Jugulator' and 'Demolition', did these events really happen?

Fifteen years since Halfords' last Priest appearance, the classic 'Painkiller', Priest have returned with an album which suggests soundwise that 'Painkiller' may indeed have been released last year such is the ease in which Priest have shifted back to their trademark sound.

With Halford back in the mix this was largely expected, as the 'Ripper' years saw Glenn Tipton as main songwriter, and without Halford was sorely exposed.

Where the two Owens albums weren't quite the classic metal forays so common of Priest, 'Angel Of Retribution' sees Priest shift back to the cartoon imagery and metal bluster of the 1980's, with some surprising nods to their 70's origins.

It isn't Priest's best, but certainly exceeds the likes of 'Turbo', while matching 'Ram It Down' for metal excess. It's all been heard before, but a band like Priest can get away with it, after all they invented it didn't they?

The Songs

Where 'Painkiller' was a solid blast of near speed metal from start to finish, 'Angel Of Retribution' opts for various moods and styles, with equal part ballads and rockers, something Priest haven't attempted to this degree with Halford before - to my ears.

The opening pair of 'Judas Rising' and 'Deal With The Devil' sets an immediate tone of classic heavy metal Priest style, with every aspect of their past intact in glorious fashion, down to the rampant twin guitar attack and Halford's victorious lyrics about the all conquering power of metal. This should satisfy all the fans who have been in the cold for fifteen long years waiting for this.

'Revolution' throws a spanner in the works, an anthem in the vein of 'United' or 'Taking On The World', with some seventies shadings in the melody. Quality material, and a track which grows with every listen.

'Worth Fighting For' is lite by Priest's standards, more of a semi ballad with some riffing which is heavy enough to lose that tag.

'Demonizer' is this years new metallic character, a new rival for 'The Hellion' or 'The Sentinel'. Standard Priest metal here, heavy but too often heard, a sleepwalker for the band.

Biker anthem 'Wheels Of Fire' is reminiscent of the 'Turbo/Ram It Down' era, minus the keyboards, a harmless, fun rocker.

'Angel' meanwhile is a close relation to 1978's 'Beyond The Realm Of Death', a sound Priest haven't dabbled with since 1978 I'd say! An effective, emotive ballad.

'Hellrider' is Painkiller revisited, so much so that it must be a leftover from that album. It works regardless, stripped down metal with lashings of double bass drumming and the use of the word 'megatron'!

Another ballad appears with 'Eulogy', heavy on piano and atmospherics, suitably eerie.

'Lochness' concludes the album at a mammoth thirteen minutes, and never deviates from a medium pace throughout, which makes it a long listen, despite some epic soloing from the guitar tandem. What saves it are the hilarious lyrics reading 'Lochness, confess, your terror of the deep, grotesque, monstrosity'.

The chorus is cartoon metal personified and for fifty year old men to be writing this is either sad or a joke on their part! All in good fun and must be heard to be believed, as somehow Priest have outdone themselves in terms of sheer cornball.

In Summary

My initial reaction to the album was mixed but after several weeks and many listens it's grown on me considerably.

Basically it's everything you want from a Priest album, which is traditional heavy metal.

The heaviness is there, and thankfully the guitar sound has returned to the high pitched squealing after some downtuned nonsense during Halford's departure. Halford is in fine voice and to step back in as if fifteen years hadn't happened is a testament to the bands professionalism and longevity.

There are a few tracks which don't make the grade, namely 'Worth Fighting For' and 'Demonizer', but show me any Priest album without a duffer or three (after 'Killing Machine') and I'll walk on water gladly.

A fine comeback well worth a listen. Now if only they'd remove all their stale classics from their live set and throw in 'Hard As Iron' or 'Exciter', then we'd really be in business!


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