"Painkiller" would finally get the worthy follow up that it never got. Just like I said in the last review of this discography, "Demolition", I feel bad for Tim Owens, who did his job well, and left the band as the guy that fans will remember as "the bad knock off of the Metal God", but this does not mean that I was not ecstatic of this reunion, because I was. The "Painkiller" line-up once again together to kick some metal butt.
Showing that they were back and meaning business, the band opens up with "Judas Rising", and what an opening it is! This epic 4 minute track not only screams Judas Priest, but also brings all the fans to the yard. It is grand, heavy, and just pure awesomeness. If there were any doubt if the band was done or not, those doubts were literally blown away from the face of the Earth with this song.
The good form continues with "Deal With The Devil", a classic Priest song that has speed, a catchy chorus, and killer guitar work. It also tells the story of how the band came to be, and it also references several songs from the band's career, like "Blood Red Skies" from "Ram It Down", Beyond The Realms of Death" from "Stained Class", and "Take On The World" from "Killing Machine". This is sort of a recurring theme on "Angel of Retribution", where several other songs on this record mentions previous Priest material, which of course makes the nostalgic part of my soul very pleased.
While the album features more great tunes, like the touching ballad "Angel", the epic "Hellrider", and the demonic "Demonizer", it does steer off in other tracks that just seems odd. "Worth Fighting For" feels more like something Queensrÿche would come up with, "Eulogy" is a weird change of pace that makes it feel like filler material, and while "Revolution" has some cool guitar work in it, it just ultimately feels like some heavy knock off of the Jane's Addiction song "Mountain Song", in other words, hardly a revolution.
But the song that bugs me the most is the ender of the album, entitled "Lochness", and yes, it is a song about the legendary Scottish sea creature with the same name. So what is it that makes me hate this song? First off, the length. Judas Priest is most certainly not known for long songs, so when I saw that this song was 13 and a half minutes, my jaw dropped. Next up, the lyrics, which is not the worst I have ever heard, but it just feels so weird. Then we have the fact that the band tries to make this song as epic as possible, and they do a good job, but the song is so slow that I almost fall asleep, and again, it holds this slow tempo for the entire 13 and a half minutes, which makes this the slowest and most useless ending of a Judas Priest album ever. In theory, this song is a cool idea, but instead, it became a long and exhausting endurance test, that unfortunately was a sneak peak of what would come in the future.
While "Angel of Retribution" might not be a true comeback record, it was a return to form for a band that had been lost for over a decade. I do not know if it was the presence of The Metal God that got the band back to its glory days, but Rob certainly helped out a lot on making this record as good as possible. It has a heavy attitude that is impressive and even if the song material is sort of uneven, it is most certainly diverse, showing off every tool that the band possesses. Judas is indeed rising.
Songs worthy of recognition: Judas Rising, Deal With The Devil, Angel, Hellrider
Rating: 8/10 Demonizers