Judas Priest - Angel Of Retribution
Sony Music
Heavy Metal
10 songs (52'44)
Release year: 2005
Judas Priest, Sony Music
Reviewed by Marty
Major event
One of the most anticipated albums in recent metal history has been finally released. The reuniting of Rob Halford with Judas Priest was something that many saw as inevitable but it had to be for all the right reasons. When Rob left in 1991, there was some bitterness and resentment in both camps with Rob stating that musically, he wanted to play heavier and more hardcore metal. The resulting 2 albums from Fight, his first project were exactly that; a crunching and heavy barrage of thrash influenced metal. Judas Priest went on hiatus with Glenn Tipton's solo album, Baptism Of Fire being the only new material that surfaced from any Judas Priest member for many years after Rob's departure. Eventually regrouping, Priest recruited Scott Travis back after Rob Halford's Fight project dissolved and were extremely fortunate in finding Tim "Ripper" Owens who is undoubtedly the best Rob Halford impersonator on the planet. They released two albums Jugulator and Demolition with Jugulator containing some of the most brutally heavy material that Priest had ever recorded. Their tours were very successful with both a double live CD and live DVD emerging from their live shows. Tim Owens really helped get Priest up and going again but aside from a couple of choice cuts of new material, they were becoming a nostalgia act with Tim not really replacing Rob Halford, but rather just filling in until his inevitable return. Around this time, Rob began a project with Trent Reznor and others from Nine Inch Nails called Two and released one album entitled Voyeurs which although was experimental and got slammed by this critics, did contain some interesting material. Several years later, Rob emerged with a new band simply entitled Halford which saw him returning to his metal roots and more of a Judas Priest sound. Their first album Resurrection was a huge success and was hailed as being one the best albums that Judas Priest never made. A successful tour and double live album followed which saw Rob digging up some Priest classics from the past such as Tyrant and Stained Class as well as doing some Fight material and lots of other Priest favorites. Rumors were now starting to fly about a reunion but to no avail. Halford's second album, The Crucible was another great album but failed to get proper label support and the resulting tour, The Metal Gods tour only managed a handful of dates before being scrapped due to financial problems. Right around this time, Tim Owens was getting restless of the fact that Priest was doing an album and tour about every 4 years or so and he now had a family to support. He was even quoted as saying that he would gladly step aside if Rob wanted to rejoin the band; stating that Rob "belongs" in Judas Priest. With Glen Tipton, K.K. Downing and Rob Halford getting together to go over the details of their Metalolgy box set in 2003, the time was ripe for a reunion to take place and discussions began. The "official" reunion was announced over a year ago and Priest embarked on a world-wide reunion tour last summer and were also part of last year's Ozzfest line-up. In between, the band spend considerable time writing and recording new material; work that was finally completed late last year.

The albums opens with a quiet build up of dual lead guitar arpeggios reminiscent of the beginning of Victim Of Changes and slowly, a wailing Rob Halford scream pierces through before the rest of Priest pummels into the first track, Judas Rising. With a sound similar to the Painkiller era, it's prophetic lyrics, use of layered vocal harmonies and some great guitar harmony thirds give it a feel of the 70's era of Priest especially the Stained Class album. A killer track, this one's destined to be a classic. The second track, Deal With The Devil is a chunky and muted riff fest that lyrically, tells the whole story of the band from the beginning to their role in the whole metal movement of the 80's. With a classic Priest chorus that I still can't get out of my head, it also has some great lead harmonies and has a feel of a track like Riding On The Wind from Screaming For Vengeance. The first single from the album, Revolution, is up next and it's a bouncy and heavy Turbo-era style of track that seems to be an attempt to modernize the Priest sound. It has a certain catchiness and anthemic quality to it with lyrics that deal with a new heavy metal revolution and is probably the most commercially accessible track on the album. Worth Fighting For sees both Glenn And K.K. turning down the overdrive a bit on their guitars in favor of a cleaner standard hard rock style. With a straight ahead 4/4 time tempo it uses a mix of clean and overdriven guitar giving the track more of a hard rock edge. Backed by an amazing and emotion packed vocal by Rob, the track builds in intensity with some great sounding lead harmonies and trade off leads near the end of the track. After the exploding and crashing sounds of a meteor hitting the earth, Demonizer explodes into our ears next. With killer and ominous Slayer influenced riffs, this one gets the full Painkiller treatment with a bit of the fury and ferocity of the Jugulator album. Propelled by speedy double bass drums and ripping guitar riffs, this one has a chorus section that is as killer and driving as anything they've ever done. Rob's screams of DEMONIZER!!!! near the end of the track let you know that he means business and his vocal range has not faltered one bit even after over 30 years of singing Priest material. Wheels Of Fire, with it's more simpler style and chunky riffs is another catchy yet heavy track with a more commercial edge and sounds like something from the Point Of Entry era. Angel, a quiet ballad that gradually builds in heaviness uses some nice acoustic guitar and a vocal performance by Rob that is absolutely stunning. Not your typical Judas Priest track, Rob shows the kind of power, passion and purity in his voice that only he has. The uniqueness of this track and Rob's voice give it a feeling of a "breath of fresh air" in the flow of this album. Hellrider gets back to the Painkiller era style once again with a big guitar odyssey for the intro that features lots of pull-off riffs and huge ripping power chords. Chunky and heavy with lots of double bass, it again has the sort of apocalyptic lyrical content as tracks like Judas Rising and Demonizer. Another absolute killer that's a classic in the making as far as I'm concerned. Eulogy, with it's mix of clean guitar and piano (played by Don Airey) is a short ominous piece with a sad reflective vocal by Rob that sets the stage for the big finale of the album, a twelve minute opus called Lochness. After an eerie opening in which you can just imagine the wisps of fog flowing around the realm of the infamous monster, the songs lets loose with a riff that uses pinch harmonics then comes full force into a pounding heavy style that has the feel of Black Sabbath's Electric Funeral and also reminds me a little of Priest's Monster Of Rock from the Ram It Down album. A big memorable chorus rounds out this track and the great atmosphere created is only tarnished by the length of this track. It's way too long and seems to be dissolving into chaos near the end. A shortened version of this track would've been a much better idea.

Although Roy Z. has done a decent job in the production of this album, there's a few tracks where the drums sound thin and Glenn and K.K.'s leads seem a bit chaotic in the way they're mixed in and out of the overall mix. The "feel" of the album has a little more of the rougher and rawer edge of albums like Stained Class and Hell Bent For Leather and not the super slick production style of their albums from the 80's. There's aspects of the entire legacy of Judas Priest within this album with lots of references to past tracks and characters like The Sentinel, The Hellion, the Tyrant and of course, the Painkiller. Aside from being a varied album in the styles of songs, it has a great flow with the ultra heavy tracks spread out and separated by others that are more simple and catchy. The performances, especially of Rob Halford are solid by everyone in the band but overall, I don't think Roy Z. has captured the true essence of Judas Priest with his production. As great as the album is, I feel it could've been even better.

I'm both pleased and surprised by this album. It's a great album but is a lot more varied in styles than I would've imagined. However, looking back over their albums particularly from the late 70's, there were always all sorts of tracks from menacing and heavy to lighter commercial-edged ones and even some ballads. This album signifies a return to that style of album making but with all the sound and fury of a modern day Judas Priest album. By today's standards, this album is masterpiece material but by Judas Priest standards, it falls a bit short of that designation. Long-time fans of the band are sure to like this album, as there's something for fans of almost every era of the band. Even if you haven't listened to Priest in many years and are fans of such albums as British Steel, Screaming For Vengeance and thought that the glory days are behind them, it's time to get re-acquainted with the Priest!!

The word "retribution" means "something justly deserved" or "something given or demanded in repayment". The angel on the front cover signifies the return of the angel last seen on the front cover of the Sad Wings Of Destiny album only in a more menacing and meaner "metalized" form. Originally condemned to an eternal fiery fate, it has returned seeking retribution. This return is also symbolic of the "rebirth" of Judas Priest. Although they are very aware of their legacy, they're looking to the future, not resting on past glories and are demanding that metal music gets the kind of respect it justly deserves. This album and Judas Priest in general just may be the "Angel Of Retribution" that metal music needs to put it back into the forefront once again like it was in the 80's and early 90's. This is no one-off reunion/album/tour, they're all in it for the long haul. As long as there is Judas Priest, so will there be heavy metal.......long live the Priest!!!

Killing Songs :
Judas Rising, Deal With The Devil, Demonizer, Angel and Hellrider
Marty quoted 89 / 100
Mike quoted 73 / 100
Jeff quoted 80 / 100
Jay quoted 75 / 100
Danny quoted 90 / 100
Brent quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Judas Priest that we have reviewed:
Judas Priest - Firepower reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls reviewed by Thomas and quoted 70 / 100
Judas Priest - Killing Machine / Hell Bent for Leather reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Judas Priest - Screaming For Vengeance reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Judas Priest - Stained Class reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 21 reviews click here
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