Judas Priest - Angel Of Retribution
Oh my god, they are finally back! Although they were never really gone, Judas Priest during the period without Rob Halford was never the real deal for me, and all the albums he did outside the band were so much better (apart from the Two project with Trent Raznor) than what Judas Priest managed to achieve. Rob left the band after Painkiller (1991) and the rumours of a re-union have been numerous throughout the years but it wasn't until last year it finally was a reality. It took quite some listening for the enthusiasm to calm down and I could start listening with at least somewhat objective ears on the comeback album Angel Of Retribution.
Judas Priest in 2005 sounds very much of Judas Priest, so there is no need of worrying that they would have tried to make something regarding to today's trends, it is a classic Judas sound that meets you. The start with Judas Rising, an aggressive and powerful opener gives you immediate proof of the fact that they are back with pounding riffs and Halford singing at the top of his lungs. The opener is followed by Deal With The Devil, which is a straightforward heavy metal tune with a simple chorus and reminds much of the sound on Halford's solo album Resurrection (2000) with some classic Priest harmonies.
Even if all of the songs isn't exactly the best of what they have ever done, there is a passion shining through, there is a smell of revenge when Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing are delivering some twin guitar parts and harmonies that are to kill for. The delicate ballad Angel is ok as far as ballads go, a standard classic heavy metal power ballad but with the voice of Halford it really comes to life and is actually pretty good, no-one can breath life in a ballad as Rob can.
Hellrider comes as one of the better songs on the album with marching riffs and a great break in the song made for live performances, while the rhythm section with Ian Hill and Scott Travis is pounding out a fast pace. Hellrider is also the track that together with Demonizer comes closest to the sound of Painkiller considering the aggression these two holds. The epic song of the album, Loch Ness might not be a new Victim Of Changes but it is nevertheless a mighty little tune. Loch Ness moves in a slow pace and all along has that mighty feel with a chorus that lifts the song, but it is over thirteen minutes long and could perhaps benefit from being shortened to about half of the length.
I wouldn't go as far as to call any of the songs fillers, but it feels like some tracks must have been made solely for the purpose of having songs that Tipton and Downing can stand and sway back and forth with their guitars on stage to. Wheels Of Fire for instance is a descent song but the swaying potential seems to be higher than the hit potential with that one. The comeback album from Judas Priest is throwing out catches to many of their periods while keeping a fresh and up to date sound.
It is hard to draw comparisons to any of the earlier albums with Judas, as they have managed to make it sound simply Judas Priest and if I was to start compare I would have to mention at least half of all their albums. It is not as good as I was hoping for, but then I was expecting more or less a masterpiece. In the end all I can say is that The Metal Gods are back and once again proving why they are a classic band.