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All right, as you now know by now Rob Halford has rejoined the Judas Priest fold. Which translates to 80 percent of their mullet-headed, brain dead fanbase “forgot” that they actually had another singer, you know that guy from Akron, Ohio? Ergo, “Priest is back!”
Anyhow, surely by now you have either dusted off your Defenders of the Faith vinyl or remember that there actually IS a Judas Priest album out there called Jugulator, surely you have all heard the call for the Priest. Angel of Retribution, the first Judas Priest album with the “original lineup” in 15 years, so can the almighty Priest do it? Can they break the habit of releasing a stagnant album in the aftermath of a stellar reunion tour? Yes and no.
I won’t lie to you kids, even the Metal Gods themselves are still mere mortals and just like the rest of us they piss the bed from time to time. However, they don’t totally fall into cruise control. We start off with Judas Rising. We get a nice guitar intro that builds up and up and then the drums kick in. I have to say that despite that divided stance that fans have taken from the 97-02 years, this is DEFINITELY the song that screams Priest is Back!
You have it all, the guitar crunch of Glen and KK, the hammering low end of Ian and Scott and of course, the wails of the mighty Metal God himself, Rob Halford. Some will say that by song title alone, its nothing more than self indulgent dreck but to you I say shut the fuck up, even Judas Priest can indulge in self indulgence once in a while.
Coming up next we have Deal with the Devil. Listening to Deal with the Devil right after Judas Rising is like coming down from a speedball: the rush isn’t as intense but it’s still there. A few references to past accomplishments aside, it holds its own in Priest-dom.
Next we have Revolution. This is a question for those wrestling fans out there: you know how once in a while you’ll see a wrestler that has a vintage image? You know you laugh and you remember the good times you had back then? Then you remember the here and the now? Revolution is that song. It’s not bad, it’s just simply too much nostalgia too early in the album for a band that never really went away.
Next we have the red headed stepchild black sheep of the album: Worth Fighting For. This falls into the same category as previous songs such as Before the Dawn, Night Comes Down, and Out in the Cold: you'll either love it because it shows a tender side of Priest or you’ll hate it because it shows a tender side of Priest. This writer does like it but for those that have not heard the album you have been warned and for all the jackasses out there that will continue to bitch, I told you so.
Next we have Demonizer which continues the rapid fire (no pun intended) approach that we had with tracks 2 and 3. When putting the terms Judas Priest and kicks ass together, I don’t have to explain much. However, I would like to note that judging from the lyrics, we finally get to see a written out story of the cover of Metal Works, you know where The Hellion, The Metallian, and Painkiller are duking it out? My money is on Painkiller.
We keep the adrenaline rolling with Wheels of Fire and to modify my previous statement, when the term’s adrenaline and Judas Priest go together, I don’t have to explain myself.
Next we get Angel, which in all actuality sounds like a nice distant cousin of their revamped revamped version of Diamonds and Rust. As with Worth Fighting For, listen at your own risk and I told ya so.
Next we have Hellrider. This song reads more like a copy of Judas Priest’s Discography for Dummies more than it does Judas Priest circa 2005. Next we have a song called Eulogy. I am suddenly reminded of a previous album featuring an ANGEL on the cover, this ANGEL looked very SAD, he had something wrapped around his WINGS, I think it was called “The Angel Who Was Sad About Something”.
In all honesty, not a bad song and definitely a nice build to the album finale: Lochness. Now the epic metal song is something that Judas Priest doesn’t really do. However, for a band that has built its reputation for the past 30 years on whips and chains and heavy metal, they do pull it off.
To understand the scope of the song, it’s about the Loch Ness Monster. A creature that was supposedly seen in one of Scotland's many lakes and many scientists have theorized that perhaps it is a surviving creature from one of those ages when dinosaurs walked the earth. The song has the perfect buildup required of a heavy metal epic; you can actually picture the creature rising out of the gray mists of Scotland. I have to admit that the chorus is pretty damn catchy and at least for this writer, it does leave a sense of longing for what he knows amongst its listener.
Alrighty then, the album is now over. I’ll be honest; this album is a bit of a builder. When I first bought the album the only two songs I cared for was Judas Rising and Demonizer, but it has since grown on me as a whole.
I’ll be honest with you: there are going to be those that completely embrace this album because its Judas Priest; and there are going to be those that do in fact call it self indulgent dreck; there are going to be those that are going to be disappointed because we didn’t see Rob’s newly acquired interest in black and death metal get a bit of Priest injection. However, there are going to be those that will actually LISTEN to this album over a period of time and let it grow on them in some manner and not automatically dismiss it as some 13 year old girl saying its worse than Turbo.
At the end of the day if you like it, keep listening to it. If you hate it and can’t stop bitching about it, then get your Cheeto-moustached ass off the computer and go to a used CD store, they do exist for a reason you know.