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leg·end  (l j  nd) n. 
One that inspires legends or achieves legendary fame 
A story about mythical or supernatural beings or events

star  (stär) n. 
An artistic performer or athlete whose leading role or superior performance is acknowledged
One who is highly celebrated in a field or profession

Judas Priest is back with Angel of Retribution a new studio album that shows us once again why they are metal legends! 

note: A review of the bonus DVD was not possible since Epic and the band's outside publicist did not answer a request for a review copy of this album. A big thank you to the insider that hooked us up with the music, because otherwise you would not be reading this review.   In the event that Epic or the publicist come through with the full CD/DVD we will update this review. 

Those that sold their souls for a Priest reunion better head to the crossroads because your prayers have been answered; the Priest is back screaming for vengeance, ready to unleash their metal fury on the masses once more!  But with all the expectations and fan generated hype and excitement, does the album live up to expectations? The simply answer is hell yes!

On Angel of Retribution, Judas Priest resisted the temptation to try to redefine themselves among the newer metal bands that they influenced. A trap that many a reunited band has fallen into.  After the exit of Halford, Judas Priest adopted a little more aggressive sound with Ripper Owen, the only Priest fans that will be disappointed with this album are the ones that wished for a continuation of that formula. On the other hand, fans for all other eras will find similar ground here ranging from Rocka Rolla to Painkiller. What makes Priest work is the shared vision of the group. Take one significant piece away and it just doesn't sound quite as powerful. All due respect to Ripper but you can't replace a metal god. 

Angel of Retribution has been described as the conclusion to the 1976 concept album Sad Wings of Destiny (my personal favorite JP album), so you will find a continuation of that theme here.  If there was a fumble on the band's part in this project, it may have been trying to tie these two releases together because sequels are hardly ever as good as the original and it presents an immediate bias aside from the "reunion" hurdle.   But taken on its own and ignoring the Sad Wings connection, Angel returns Priest to their reign of classic metal terror.  You may find new bands that are heavier, but none have that special spine throttling pairing of Halford and the two guitar assault of KK Downing and Glenn Tipton, that adds up to something uniquely Judas Priest. 

It's always important to make a good first impression and that's exactly what Halford and company do with the lead off track "Judas Rising," a perfect metaphor for the band's blazing return. This song is full throttled Priest at their best, driving rhythm, ripping guitars and Halford's full-throated screams.  All fears that the Priest might have fallen from grace or failed to recapture their throne are erased as this song spins in all its metal glory.  The solo alone makes up for years of nu metal sludge. 

"Deal With The Devil" is probably the most modern sounding song on this album, with a slight nod to the best elements of Halford's Resurrection album, but it still captures that mid career Priest vibe and the solo makes you yearn for days of yore when band's weren't afraid to use their lead guitarists! 

Some have slagged the first single "Revolution," and while it's not the strongest song on the album and a little bit of departure in sound, it's still a strong fist pounding metal anthem.  "Worth Fighting For" revisits the prevailing mid tempo feel of Point Of Entry, fans of that era of the band will probably embrace this track, but fans of the heavier Priest will most likely press fast forward. 

"Demonizer" is about power, from the heavy machinegun drums to riffing guitars to Halford's screamin' vocals, this song is probably the most divorced from classic Priest, falling more into the Ripper era material.  But "Wheels Of Fire," finds the band on familiar ground with a metal anthem that screams of the band's most popular releases in the early 80s. It's a straight ahead metal rocker in the tradition of "You Got Another Things Coming". 

The one area where you really feel that this album attempts to be the conclusion to Sad Wings of Destiny, is the beautifully executed ballad "Angel" which really does capture the temperament of Wings. Halford's vocals ring in the same somber tone as they did on "Epitaph" and "Dreamer Deceiver" and the guitars for the most part have that classic tone. This was an ambitious move on the band's part, which really paid off. 

The band gets the blood flowing again with "Hellrider" which has a classic fade in from the Wings era but without the Halford scream leading the charge. But once the song kicks in you know that by God, Priest is back!  While the lyrics can be a bit cheesy, the overall experience of Priest redeems that drawback.  This is a song to crank to 11 as you drive at full speed to a show on the upcoming tour! 

"Eulogy" slows things down again, once more harkening back to Wings with the melancholy subtleness, which acts more as segue to the next song than a stand-alone track. Speaking of the next track, any other band but Judas Priest would be tarred and feathered if they tried to pull off a song like "Lochness." But this is Priest and they do prevail in the end. You can dismiss the cheesy lyrics because the sum of the parts makes up an incredible whole.  With a Sabbath like driving riff setting the tone, the band deliver a truly epic conclusion to the album with a song that clocks in at over 13 minutes long and doesn't fail to please in classic Priest style.  If there was any doubt that Priest was back in full swing, those fears are cast aside with this hypnotizing track. 

Angel of Retribution isn't the best album in the Judas Priest arsenal but it is worthy of the band's history and an amazing accomplishment in 2005 where most bands would have pandered to the current metal mainstream. But Priest learned that lesson with Turbo, what you get with Angel of Retribution is ten tracks from a band that pounded their name into metal history.  The Priest is back and Judas is rising once again! 

More Info

Judas Priest - Angel of Retribution
Label: Epic
Judas Rising
Deal With The Devil
Worth Fighting For
Wheels Of Fire

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