When Rob Halford stepped down from the role of commander in mic for the great Judas Priest in 1992 the worlds Metal heads were beside themselves in what to do about it. He wanted to and did his own thing with bands like Fight, Two and the eponymous Halford, but the hard part was being supportive of what both he and the Ripper Owens fronted Priest were putting out there. Fight was a more aggressive, Groove Metal sort of thing while Two was a group that no one really seemed to understand in my humble opinion. When the eponymous Halford band started up and gave us such rousing, truer to the basics Metal the hopes was that his return to Priest was inevitable. We got two albums from Halford but the return would be the case in 2003 and the reunion led us to the 2005 release of “Angel Of Retribution”. That reunion album is celebrating its tenth anniversary today, March 1st 2015. Well, actually the album was released in Japan a few days prior to this but March 1st was the Worldwide Release Date back in 2005 and that is why we are raising a pair or horns in its direction.
I’ve been a fan of Judas Priest since the “Stained Glass” days, so I was rather excited to find him back in the fold and delivering new Metal to the faithful that had followed for so many years. I should stress that I didn’t dislike “Ripper” at all but during his tenure Priest had become a little unfamiliar to my ears of the time. I liked his style for sure but I wanted a more traditional and straightforward type of stuff as opposed to how aggressive it seemed to be getting. With “Angel Of Retribution” I felt that the lifers who might have not taken to the Owens releases could once again be comfortable with what they were getting from Judas Priest. Sadly the album arrives at its anniversary without the presence of K. K. Downing in the lineup; the guitarist retired from Judas Priest a few years ago and has been since replaced by the talented Richie Faulkner. Now let’s take a look at the track listing and then we can discuss a little deeper.
1. Judas Rising
2. Deal With The Devil
4. Worth Fighting For
6. Wheels Of Fire
Reviewing the tunes once again I can stress that the opening track “Judas Rising” still makes me reach for the invisible drumsticks to start jamming along while “Deal With The Devil” also remains a solid track. It’s a tad faster than the albums opener and felt like a call to some of the stuff we had last heard on “Defenders Of The Faith”. With “Hellrider” there is a solid thunder with the double bass drumming of Travis and while it’s not as throttling as “”Painkiller” it’s a tune that will get the blood pumping. Let’s see what else did I really like from this one, oh yes “Angel” and that is because I have always enjoyed the occasional Heavy Metal ballad type tune and this one works quite well. “Demonizer” is another powerful one that I remember with a sinister smile and as these selections play while I write I feel like sporting my leather jacket and some spiked gauntlets and just banging my head. Another interesting fact about this release would be all of the references to their past albums and some songs. We find them referencing “Painkiller” and “Ram It Down” and many others which is a pretty cool thing when it comes down to it. Ten years later I will stick with my view that “Lochness” is still a very long tune and could have been shortened by at least six minutes to give fans room for one additional new track. Oh well. What were your favorites on this album and has your Priest allegiance remained strong throughout the years? Let me know in the comments on this posting so we build up some dialogue.
Congrats once again on “Angel Of Retribution” marking its 10th Anniversary. To my knowledge there is no special re-release being planned but Priest fans can sate the sadness with the 30th anniversary edition of “Defenders Of The Faith” which comes out later this month. That album celebrated its own milestone last year and that was discussed in this narrative.