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Judas Priest: Angel of Retribution

So, it has been about one year since the heavy metal pioneers (along with Black Sabbath) rejoined with front man and metal god himself, Rob Halford. While it was great to see the classic Priest lineup do a tour together for the first time since 1991, the real determining factor of whether or not their comeback is complete and truly a success, we must look no further than their new studio effort, Angel Of Retribution. While it is easy to rest on ones laurels, and do tours without putting out a good studio release in a number of years, yet still proclaim yourself legends (read: Kiss, Metallica, Motley Crue, etc.), only with a good solid studio release will the fans and critics alike take your efforts seriously. I am already impressed with the fact that Angel Of Retribution only took 1 year to hit the shelves, while Priest fans in the past were subjected to waiting for what seemed like centuries for a new release. The fact is they weren't always worth waiting for, as was the case with Demolition (released 4 years after Jugulator), which in my opinion seemed like more of a Glenn Tipton solo release, yet also seemed like it was thrown together in one hour.

With that I give you Angel Of Retribution. Let's first start with the versions available on the store shelves right now. There is the limited edition in a hardcover booklet with 2 CD's, one being the new material, and the other, a DVD containing a 40-minute documentary plus 7 live tracks; Breaking the Law, Diamonds and Rust, Hellion/Electric Eye, Touch Of Evil, Metal Gods, Hell Bent For Leather, & Living After Midnight. The normal version CD, which will run you about 6 or 7 dollars less, contains pretty much the same DVD material as the limited edition version on the flipside of the disk. The only difference is that you will get a 30-minute documentary instead of a 40-minute one. Unless you are a huge fan, and are into the collectible thing, save your money and get the normal version.

As for the new material, overall, it is a solid effort, with a few notable exceptions. Let's go through them one by one;

Judas Rising a great beginning to the CD, as it has all of the classic Priest touches, Rob Halford's trademark screams, the twin guitar attack of Tipton and Downing, and the lighting quick hands of drummer Scott Travis.

Deal With The Devil great solos by Glenn Tipton, as this song has similarities to his solo album.

Revolution by going to the band's website, you can see a video of this song. Like the video shows, this has all of the classic elements of Priest, with the exception being that there is no barnburner guitar solos in this one.

Worth Fighting For not all Priest songs need to be ultra heavy to be good, as is the case with "Worth Fighting For". It has a nice melodic sound to it, ala the intro to "Rock Hard, Ride Free".

Demonizer this song is simply in your face, no nonsense Priest style metal, in the mold of the British Steel era, similar to "Rapid Fire".

Wheels of Fire nothing that really stands out about this song, except for the guitar work of Glenn Tipton.

Angel more melodic Priest, this can very easily be compared to "Dreamer Deceiver "from Sad Wings of Destiny. I guess they enjoyed playing the unplugged version of "Diamonds & Rust" on stage these past few years.

Hellrider more great drumming by Scott Travis, this one sounds very similar to "Metal Meltdown", complete with lightning fast guitar from Tipton and Downing

Eulogy here is something I haven't heard from Priest in years, piano! Not that that's a bad thing, as I loved the way "Prelude" led into "Tyrant" many years ago. I am assuming it is Glenn playing the piano. It sounds very appropriate here, similar to the way Iced Earth used the piano interludes a few years back.

Lochness Unlike "Prelude", which leads into probably one of my all time favorite Priest classics (Tyrant), "Eulogy" leads into a long, tedious, and aimless song lacking any sense of direction. Clocking in at over 13 minutes, definitely the low point of the album for me.

As for the DVD material, the 7 songs that I mentioned earlier are pretty much what you would expect to hear at a Priest show. The video quality and sound of the concert footage are excellent. And it is nice to see Rob Halford without that flowing blond hair like he had during their (gasp) hairband-era Priest Live video in the mid 80's. A few observations;

- I noticed that Rob's screams and higher octave vocals are mostly missing. It is possible that age has caught up to even the metal god himself. Although, when singing normally, he still sounds great. -
During the 40 minute documentary, they cut from the interviews to the same concert footage that is already contained in the 7 songs, probably cutting their interview time in half. Lame-O.

All in all, the CD has everything a true Priest fan could ask for, as even Priest stated that their aim was to create a classic Priest album. Taking out the few clunkers from within, and you have another Priest classic CD in the vein of Painkiller, British Steel, Screaming For Vengeance, or Defenders of the Faith. But a very good comeback effort by the Priest nevertheless. Let's hope the next one is even better.

Track Listing
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

Added: March 14th 2005
Reviewer: Jack Toledano
Related Link: Official Judas Priest Website
Hits: 4834
Language: english

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Judas Priest: Angel of Retribution
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-03-14 14:52:59
My Score:

The new Judas Priest is probably one of the most anticipated metal releases of the year 2005. This is due to the fact that Rob Halford once again is fronting the group on lead vocals. Yes indeed, the "Metal God" has returned to the group after successful Solo endeavors with both "Fight" and "Halford". While he also had the group "Two" with Trent Reznor, it's impact/success are at best questionable. In his absence the band continued along for 2 albums with the talents of Tim "Ripper" Owens (now of Iced Earth) on the microphone. Each group continued to bring metal to the masses in the best fashion possible. However, the impact on either side was not felt as much as one would expect. When news came of Rob Halfords return - ripples were felt across the metal community.

There is very little that will disappoint the listener on the new Judas Priest CD entitled Angel Of Retribution. The radio track of "Revolution" is perhaps the weakest of the tunes throughout the piece. It sounds very similar to the Jane's Addictions "Mountain Song" but with some different solos and vocals. The remainder of the disk is very strong as there are hints of Painkiller as well as Stained Class. The band has not deferred from their history but instead used it well in the molding of ideas for their newest work. For many fans, Judas Priest was the band that kicked off the term Heavy Metal, building on the blocks forged by Black Sabbath several years previous. Seeing their creativity still vibrant after 30 years in the business shows why they are held in such high regard. If you choose to listen to this CD expecting the next "Beyond The Realms Of Death" or "Exciter" you will do yourself a disservice and it will prevent you from enjoying the CD. I say this as a Priest fan from as far back as 1978.

Among the standout tracks are "Hellrider", "Judas Rising", and "Deal With The Devil". They are heavy and have amazing drumming from Scott Travis as well as the dual guitar wizardry of KK Downing and Glenn Tipton. On songs like "Angel" and "Lochness" we see Rob's voice showcased to a different level. His rich yet powerful harmonies and range are outstanding on these tracks. Those seeking only heavy tunes will most probably overlook these.

As an added bonus, the band has included with this CD a bonus DVD that features several tracks from last year's performances. The band did choice dates as well as being featured on the ever popular Ozzfest. Mixed in with the DVD is interview footage which is nice, I would have preferred the chance to view the complete concert minus the talking but that is not an option. The CD comes in two versions, the version I am discussing is the Dualdisc. The CD and DVD are on one piece and this is perhaps the wave of the future on music being sold. There is also a digibook edition, which looks very nice and has the CD and DVD separate.

I really recommend this CD for there is no reason for metal fans to avoid it. Bottom line here folks, with all the limited exposure Heavy Metal has and our constant bombardment with the "American Singer Of The Week" shows, isn't it nice to see a new Judas Priest record on the shelves?

Judas Priest: Angel of Retribution
Posted by Steve Pettengill, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-03-14 11:37:56
My Score:

Angel of Retribution is the new studio album from the recently reunited Judas Priest. After the commercial failure of the Tim "Ripper" Owens era, expectations have been high for a return to the power metal Priest of old. To that end, the band has succeeded and even if the material isn't quite as strong as I had hoped, the Americanized nu-metalisms of Demolition are largely gone in favor of British steel.

"Judas Rising" is the call to arms and it's chock full of double bass drums, twin guitar riffs courtesy of Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing and of course Rob Halford's trademark piercing screams. Some have criticized Halford's voice in recent years which frankly puzzles me. His tone may be a bit deeper and he may not reach for the highest notes as much, but he still has the quintessential heavy metal voice.

"Demonizer" is the first track that jumped out at me on first listen and it's still one of my favorites. Those power chords can bring out the air guitarist in anyone and Rob Halford sounds appropriately possessed. Meanwhile, if there's one thing the Judas Priest sound has been lacking since the Painkiller days, it's guitar solos and "Hellrider" goes to great lengths to make amends. Tipton and Downing are all over the place and it's a sheer joy to hear them shredding back and forth over the soundstage.

Much has been written concerning the merits of the 13 minute "Loch Ness", mainly decrying the admittedly Spinal Tap lyrics. I like to think that the band is playing this one tongue in cheek. Once you hear the slow, doom laden Sabbath-like riffery and even the silly but catchy chorus, it will be difficult to get it out of your system. I love the seventies style gothic atmosphere that permeates the entire track.

Is Angel of Retribution a return to form? Not really. There are some fair to middling tracks that make the new album a somewhat disjointed listening experience. I don't particularly care for "Revolution", with its whiny, redundant chorus and clunky funk groove. "Worth Fighting For" finds the band inexplicably nodding off. And if "Deal with the Devil" has lyrics that are familiar, it's because Rob Halford wrote a similar but better song about the origins of heavy metal called "Made in Hell" on his Resurrection album. "Wheels of Fire" is simply Judas Priest on autopilot with an ineffectual and lame chorus to boot: "Wheels of fire in my soul/Wheels of fire, wheels of fire, Let 'em roll".

Despite some problems, Angel of Retribution is a good comeback album from the classic Judas Priest lineup. The songwriting may not be consistent, but the band is back and for many fans, that is more than enough. Hopefully, these granddaddies of heavy metal will have shaken off all the rust the next time they return to the studio.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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