So this is it, the long awaited comeback album by Metal’s high priests JUDAS PRIEST. I don’t want to comment about if it’s the best one in the band’s history or not. It’s a fact that it is the best one since the high-flyer “Painkiller”! Though this is not a difficult thing, since the discs with Ripper Owens just were no classic PRIEST albums anymore.
“Angel Of Retribution“ bridges the gap to the past and the opener “Judas Rising” is already typical PRIEST stuff the way you probably expected it to be. Nice mid-tempo breakers with ingenious vocal lines. “Deal With The Devil” is downright classic, too, and typical of the band, with Halford at his best, neat twin guitar solos and a thundering rhythm backbone. Next up is the disc’s worst song, “Revolution”. A kind of anthem with retro touch and super cheesy chorus – fie… “Worth Fighting For” rather presents the melodious and hard rocking side of the guys from Birmingham, and this has been this way on almost all albums…A strong song with a very memorable melody and chorus. Mr Halford proves that his strength lies more in the lower vocal regions here. On this album he easily masters the high passages as well (thanks to technology?). Live he has some problems, after all he’s not the youngest guy anymore…Well, to whom am I saying this!
“Demonizer“ is macho PRIEST stuff the way you know and love it again. The double bass and the slicing riffs are relentless! “Wheels Of Fire” is the second blackout and falls into the category “unnecessary”. “Angel” is hated by many and I don’t understand why, for it is a super neat ballad where Rob delivers his best vocal performance of the entire album. To the really tough ones it’s probably normal to hate ballads…Well, doesn’t matter… “Hellrider” is the typical headbanger’s number and really strains the neck muscles…Would have fit on “Defenders Of Faith”, too. the acoustic piece “Eulogy” introduces the last tune, “Lochness”. A song that divides people and don’t ask me why…I can absolutely not complain about this 13-minute epic. On the contrary, to me it constitutes the climax of “Angel Of Retribution”. The song is certainly the one that is the most untypical of the disc, but I like the doomy atmosphere, the construction and above all the damn hypnotic choruses. Tralala choruses sound different to me, though I have to admit that it sounds strangely solemn…But neat!
Bottom line: “Angel Of Retribution“ is an (unexpectedly) strong album with some weak points, but a lot of great material, too, and it should satisfy both the old and the newer fans and, which it doesn’t, however…There will always be moaners that find something to criticize in everything. May they do so. (Online September 14, 2005)