Angel Of Retribution
Released: 2005, Sony
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com Staff
EvilG’s Review / Rating: 4.5/5
As with other monuMETAL past releases that most staff wanted to throw in their 2 cents, the new Judas Priest album was a sure bet for staff interest. Priest fans waited years for the return of Rob Halford to Priest. After that finally happened, any semblance of patient waiting turned into the agony of waiting for the album. Now, finally, that album, ANGEL OF RETRIBUTION, is upon us.
The Priest are back, the metal gods...one of the best metal bands in existence?? Am I over hyping this release enough for you? I think not! This album is exactly what is needed. All the nu-leanings of DEMOLITION are forgotten...it’s like the band picked up after their 1990 PAINKILLER release without missing a step. I was kind of hoping for an album more like PAINKILLER but after a several listens this very minor letdown is mostly replaced by a sense of satisfaction with an album that has nods to all their eras. Those looking for PAINKILLER (perhaps my favorite Priest album) styled metal look no further than “Hellrider” and “Demonizer”...oddly enough they are my favorite 2 songs on here. Neither have quite the fury of the glorious tracks “Painkiller”, “All Guns Blazing” or “Leather Rebel” but they stand up. Other songs reminded me of classic 70's/80's Priest (i.e. “Judas Rising”) which is of course a good thing as well. Most of the songs are mid-paced, and the CD closer clocking in at over 13mins is more of a plodding metal anthem. Halford’s voice is still great, but there’s no “Twisting the strangle grip won't give no mercy” steel belted screams. There’s a little at the end of “Demonizer” but we could all do with more of it! But who am I to complain about the god of heavy metal? Time will be a better judge of how this album will fit in with the rest of the Priest back-catalog. For now, consider me impressed with the new album despite my wish for more ripping, screaming, speed-demon Priest.
Most Priest fanatics could have done with another 10 releases in the long gap between 1990's PAINKILLER and this 2005 release. Let’s face it, DEMOLITION totally stank while JUGULATOR was decent, although fans remain divided.
Aryn’s Review / Rating 5/5
As I said in my portion of the Metal-Rules 2004 Year End Round-Up, who hasn't been waiting for this since ohh.. 1990? When Rob Halford left Judas Priest it was the end of an era, and try as they might Priest just couldn't live up to the legend of the holy trinity of Halford / Tipton / Downing. Ian Hill of course is important to Priest, but Halford / Tipton / Downing is the core, the soul of the band. And if that soul had a head it was Rob Halford. So when Ripper Owens was recruited in his own fairytale story, it was like only getting to hear a band with only 2/3's of a soul. There was just something missing, and everyone knew it. But everyone's dreams were fulfilled when it was announced that The Metal God himself would be rejoining his bandmates in Priest. He would reunite with his true musical soulmates and reform the mightiest force that metal has ever seen, "the true" Judas Priest.
With the release of the bands first album of original material with Halford since 1990's absolute classic Painkiller, which will go down in the annals of metal history alongside records like Paranoid as genre definers, Priest have concocted a nearly perfect batch of songs that represent the entire history of Priest. You can hear bits of every era of Judas Priest throughout the album, from the Painkiller-esque "Judas Rising" to the rolling vibe of "Revolution" which could just as easily be on Stained Class to Angel, a ballad which sounds perfectly like Sad Wings Of Destiny-era Priest. They do all this without ever seeming like they are just giving lipservice to their past, the sound is distinctly old and new at the same time. When Halford screams "Nothing held us back or dared to try/Something in our blood won't let us die/We built a wall of metal, watched it blow/Fuel the fury solid to the core ... When we don the leather whips and chains/Nothing matters more we can't be tamed/Fighting through the din and accolades/Turn the phase around razorblades/Watch the movement grow into a voice/Took on all the world, it had no choice" in "Deal With The Devil" he is piloting the sentinel beast that is the embodiment of metal screaming and flaming into the night. He is telling the entire history of metal in two simple pre-chorus's. He is loudly and proudly proclaiming that we will never be stopped and no matter what you do we will take on the world and prove our cause is true. Judas Priest is back, and damn the nay-sayors they are just as good if not better then they have ever been.
Gabriel C. Zolman’s Review / Rating: 4/5
Here’s my take: This album is not merely an album—rather, it is an event; and it will go down like Halford in the annals of music history as exactly that. Ten years from now, it may go through a period of rediscovery, like Jugulator—which merely needed time and a forced sense of detachment—and might even be hailed as an unsung classic some distant day. But for now, it’s “yeah…that’s ol’ Rob on vocals again!” and very little else.
Think Iron Maiden’s “comeback,” Brave New World, or the VH-1-sponsored rejuvenation of Motley Crue. Certainly, Crue once rocked—and maybe they shall rock again, but either way, their glory days are in the past. The Iron Maiden revival spawned a fan renewal—but added precious little to the band’s “classic” music canon. In the Book Of Heavy Metal, comebacks are a footnote, regardless of the caliber of output.
I hate to be cynical about this—because it is a stellar album, that absolutely does the fans right every way—but it will likely languish in the shadow of its own hype. Let’s face it: it’s the Phantom Menace syndrome: after 15 years, no amount of bells and whistles are going to live up to the hype (but unlike Phantom Menace, Angel Of Retribution doesn’t blow.).
The songs are strong throughout, although it gets a tad bit heavy-handed toward the end. The opening is Painkiller-strong—the first three songs are a follow-up to that vibe. As far as dynamics go, it tries hard to capture the diversity of Stained Class or Sad Wings Of Destiny, to which it falls short just a bit.
All in all, this rocks with wild abandon; it ought to please old fans and new. And it doesn’t hurt that these new songs feel as if they were all meant to be played live. In a way, that really summarizes how I feel: this album is a good one, but it’s really more an addendum to a tour.
Wisco’s Review / Rating: 4.5/5
Simply stated, ANGEL OF RETRIBUTION is a solid Priest album. It’s obviously not the best Priest effort, but it’s certainly not the worst. At gunpoint, I’d rank this album above POINT OF ENTRY and everything that follows DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH. It’s definitely the most consistent and cohesive album since Defenders. That said, albums like POINT OF ENTRY, TURBO and RAM IT DOWN all contain amazing songs that help to balance out the damage done by the weaker ones. Does ANGEL OF RETRIBUTION contain any tracks on par with songs like “Heading Out To The Highway,” “Desert Plains,” etc? As of right now (note: I’ve only had this album for a week), I’d say probably not. However, a song like “Judas is Rising” seems to grow more and more massive with every listen. In other words, it’s going to take some time to truly understand these new songs. Overall though, this album sounds like the Priest machine revving up for a new era of domination.
Madman’s Review / Rating: 4.0/5
The Priest are back, no doubt about it. Rob Halford’s return to Judas Priest has brought forth the return of the metal gods to lay waste to the metal plain. With ANGEL OF RETRIBUTION the band has eliminated much of the modern elements that were so prominent on both DEMOLITION and JUGULATOR and gone back to a much more classic sound.
With a song like “Judas Rising” and it’s mid paced melodic crunching riff it’s clear to see exactly where the rest of the album is headed. Hell, just look at the title of the song. “Deal with the Devil” has that upbeat 80’s crunching riff that is sure to be an instant hit live, especially with the chorus that I would imagine have thousands of fans yelling “Deal with the Devil” along with Rob. All the criticism the band got for “Revolution” definitely isn’t deserved as the song, at least to me anyway, has a heavy 70’s Priest vibe. I guess too many people are getting caught up in the production? I heard a lot of people say it was far too modern but there’s nothing really modern about it at all, some people must have a serious case of wax in their ears. “Demonizer” is the only song on the album that sounds more modern, definitely something that could have maybe shown up on JUGULATOR. The chorus is my favourite of this one, the chugging riff and Rob’s delivery on the line “Out demons out” just grabs… not to mention the pounding double bass.
“Wheels of Fire” is a great song, with its confident swagger. This could probably turn out to be a great single, very fitting for listening to in the car, driving down the highway. “Hellrider” is the only weak song on the whole CD. Musically it’s still great and pretty heavy but I really don’t like the way Rob sings the verse to where he’s separating each syllable, it’s still enjoyable but not as much as it could have been. I also think it would have been a great idea to have that second screamed vocal in the chorus to have been pushed forward and just been the lone voice. “Lochness” is a great epic song, one of the few the band has done. This is probably the lone song on here where the band really stretches out and gets creative and is it just me or does the chorus sound a hell of a lot like “United”? So far the only songs I’ve left out are the softer songs, two ballads and one shorter soft piece in “Euology”. All three are done well, “Worth Fighting For” is a great track and becomes highly addictive on repeated listens.
Judas Priest are back with their classic sound. In the end my only gripe is that Rob just doesn’t scream enough, he still sounds great, but I was hoping for more of that wonderful falsetto. One question I have about this album is, how come it took Rob coming back to write a great album again? Seems odd that without Rob the band falters and goes to hell but all of a sudden Rob is back and things are alright again.
May 2005 Late Addition to this review by El Cid
We all know what Judas Priest means to metal, right? I mean, everyone has taken a side at one time or another in the age old, forum divider Maiden Vs Priest debates. Judas Priest is one of the original pillars of metal the way we know it, and 15 years ago, more than one metalhead probably shed tears with the Rob Halford’s parting. Well, it is said that time heals all wounds. Bruce came back, didn’t he? Now time came for Rob to do the same. The original Priest line-up is reunited and ANGEL OF RETRIBUTION is the mark of their comeback. There has been a lot of debate on whether Rob Halford’s return was a step forward or Ripper Owens (currently taking over for departed Matt Barlow in Iced Earth) had things under control. Drawing another comparison with Iron Maiden as Blaze Bailey’s fan base was strongly into his work with Maiden and the older fans were all yearning for the miracle of watching Bruce back with the band. The same can be said here. JUGULATOR sat well with many Judas Priest fans and even brought new meat to the grinder, now it’s time to evaluate the outcome of a very anticipated album.
My main concern with the outcome of this album was the shape Halford’s siren was in. I wasn’t sure, I don’t know why, that it would work this time. I guess I was wrong, because even in the opening track, he scream is on! Coming out of a guitar chord (reminiscent of Priest of all things… hmmm) Rob’s voice blends into the song for a performance that quit frankly left me wanting more of “Judas Rising”. Unfortunately Not everything in the album is great material and since I don’t want to go on and dissect it song by song, I must say that there are songs here that seem out of place. “Deal with the Devil” actually sounds like it belongs on Halford’s RESURRECTION rather than a Judas Priest comeback album. Not that the song is bad mind you (RESURRECITON is a great album), but it seems out of place.
“Revolution” and “Worth fighting for” are for me, the one big slump of the album. Again, these songs don’t seem to belong on this CD, they come off as awkward, or maybe old cuts… I can’t exactly put my finger on what makes me feel uncomfortable with these two, but it does, I guess you’ll have to listen for yourselves and see what I mean…Now, “Hellrider”… easily the best song on the album, you need to listen to this and tell me it doesn’t feel just right.
Anyways, as I said I don’t want to go too deeply into the album unless you’ve already listened to it a couple of times so I’m just going to go ahead and give you my final thoughts on it. I realized a while ago that I was expecting way too much out of this album, and so I prepared myself to be disappointed, only I’m not. The album is fast, it shreds, the performance is tight, the whole is solid and most importantly, it’s Judas Priest. Plain and simple, take it or leave it and that suits me just fine.
Choice Cuts: “Demonizer” ***1/2, “Judas Rising” ****, “Hellrider” *****