It's got something to do with the Berlin Wall and the Cold War, although it's not much more of a passing reference. This is about the closest it gets to explaining:And even though I haven't got a clue what they mean, I quite like the lyrics. "I know what I am, I'm Berlin". Pardon?
Thanks, I just thought it was meant to be some weird psychedelic stuff with some references to the Berlin Wall in there.It's got something to do with the Berlin Wall and the Cold War, although it's not much more of a passing reference. This is about the closest it gets to explaining:
Through cracked, blackened memories of unit dispersal
I face the impregnable wall
Believe it or not, I remember when this came out. 9 year old Mosh was young, impressionable, and hadn’t really heard anything heavier than, say, Master of Puppets. I liked Judas Priest when they were fast and aggressive and Halford was screaming like a banshee. Judas Rising was really unlike anything I’d heard at the time. Aggressive, in your face, Halford’s voice sounded as powerful as ever. I didn’t know about the history of the band or that this was his first album with them since Painkiller, but even without the context it was easy to hear the sense of triumph in the performance. 13 years later, it’s still a powerful track and I agree it’s the one 10/10 song on the album.Angel of Retribution (2005)
Coming off of two indescribably terrible albums with a sub-par singer, poor songwriting, and abusive production, Angel of Retribution hits like a metric fuckton of quality bricks.
We fade in with a flurry of legato lines and a tempered, structured melodic guitar layer. A vocal scream breaks the night, followed by double bass and heavy riffs, and fucking Rob Halford is back. I don’t mean that as a slight to Ripper, because the music here is so much better and so much more “Priest” than it was on the previous two albums. No, the difference here is melody and power, and these things were simply lacking during Ripper’s tenure with the band. This song, though maybe a little one-dimensional, hits like a fucking sledgehammer. KK’s solo leaves something to be desired considering Glenn’s amazing intro work, but it’s still fitting and powerful. Judas Rising slays with power, hooks, and beautiful production from Roy Z. 10/10
Deal With The Devil
When I first heard this, and I’ve spun this album at least 7 times now, I said, “This music would fit on a Bruce solo album.” Upon further research I discovered that it was co-written by Roy Z and that makes a ton of sense. It’s sharp, it’s fun, it’s interesting, yet dark…it’s Judas Priest. It’s self-referential, sure, but it just rocks from start to finish. It’s as hooky as anything and the performances are top notch all around. For the first time ever I can’t immediately pick out what’s being played by KK and what’s being played by Glenn (sure, that harmony part helps). It’s simply seamless; the band playing 100% naturally. If you slowed this down by 15 bpm it could be a British Steel hit. 9/10
The bass intro almost sounds like a mistake at first, but that makes it so much more raw. Once again, Roy Z’s production is phenomenal. This one sounds the most hodgepodge here, i.e. the verses sound like 70s Priest and the chorus like 90s Priest, but I kind of dig that. It’s flawed in construction, but still pretty cool. The drums are pulling in that classic 80s Priest boom-bap, it’s like a “previously on…” segment for their whole career. Halford turns in another great performance. "Revolution" won’t stick with me like these other songs, mostly because of the annoying Robert Plant/Axl Rose outro, but it’s still a solid tune. 7/10
Worth Fighting For
We once again harken back to the days of 80s cheese with the boom-bap, eighth-note bass song, but this one is catchy as hell. If not for the stellar production this easily could have been a track from Point of Entry or Turbo. I really love the bluesy, strolling guitar riffs. It’s a little laidback all around, but the vocal layers, Rob’s melodies, and Roy’s production push this tune to the next level. His level of layered production really cannot be overstated here. There’s a vaguely Bon Jovi or Megadeth’s Risk vibe happening here, but I don’t care. 8/10
Maybe the most “nü-Priest” sounding song here, this one still kicks some ass. The riffs are heavy and atonal, the drums are pounding, Rob is shredding his voice…it’s pretty damn heavy. Although the verses try so hard to remind us of Painkiller (including the literal name drop), the best thing is the hooky chorus. Scott’s drumming is a little much during the crammed verses, but that chorus brings it home. It’s not a classic, but like “Revolution” it’s a solid tune that I wouldn’t skip. Halford’s final title wails are impressively demonic. 7/10
Wheels of Fire
Another “fun” track for the album, with a twinge of Harley-riding darkness, this is another decent song but probably the weakest here. The lyrics are very lazy and the chorus sounds identical to Metallica’s “Attitude”. The bridge lyrics ape “Aces High”, too. It’s overall a throwaway song, but, as with everything else on this record, I wouldn’t turn it off. 6/10
A very pretty song that gets better with each listen. The acoustic playing is quite nice. Halford’s vocals are just stunning on this song. He sounds like a man half his age. Honestly, I know Rob acts every song like it’s a Broadway musical, but he really pulls out all the stops here. Glenn’s solo is lovely, even if the FX patch isn’t my favorite. 9/10
I feel like this song tries to recapture the same energy and glory as “Judas Rising”, but it tries too hard. It’s a fine song, just a little overblown and underdeveloped. The main riff (after the intro) is average and only Scott’s drumming improves it. The verses have that early Nightwish, Tool-style vocal writing where syl-ah-bulls are-sung like-this and I don’t love it. The music pummels and Rob’s vocal layers are cool, but most of this song is average. The guitar riffs starting around 4:15 (melodic riff over the tremolo-picked Mustaine section) is amazing and the harmonized legato section following is even better, especially the neo-classical tonality. I don’t love Halford singing along with the guitar melody, but oh well, this is heavy metal. 7/10
The only downside to this quiet, moody interlude piece is the self-referential lyrics. We get it, Rob: you left the band and now you’re back. You don’t need to name drop every goddamned song you ever wrote in the lyrics of a new song. Your career is not a concept album. I don’t really know how to rate this song. It serves the purpose of the interludes on the early Opeth records, but it’s very affecting. 6/10, I guess.
Just…oh, Dio, fucking hell, how do I even…this song is…….it exists. I know that most people probably laugh or hate this tune, but holy crap, I love it. It’s so overblown and absurd and stupid that it should be terrible, but the chorus is outstanding, the mood is incredible (minus that stupid pick-squeal main riff), and it’s just such a behemoth. The main portion of this song sounds like something from a latter-years Dio Sabbath record (and honestly would have sounded incredible). It’s hulking, and giant, and ludicrous. I seriously think the prechorus and chorus are among the catchiest melodies Priest have ever recorded. The solos are huge and melodic and wonderful. Could it have been 5 minutes shorter? Sure. But also could we stop arguing about a dinosaur in a very small lake? Of course. Just, everyone shut up. I fucking love this jam. 9/10
This is a solid record through-and-through. I get the same feeling here that I get from Brave New World of renewed energy and a sense of vigor that was sorely lacking on the previous couple albums. Angel of Retribution is nowhere near as good as BNW, but the feeling is there.
Album rating 7.8/10
No doubt some of my reaction is leftover anger from the Ripper albums channeling into positivity at any new material that actually sounds like Judas Priest. I will say that the production on this album really elevates the material. It sounds fresh, modern, and exciting. Rob's vocals in particular have more weight than usual. I'm not sure if that's an effect of aging or great vocal production, but he has more presence on this material than a lot of previous albums.Believe it or not, I remember when this came out. 9 year old Mosh was young, impressionable, and hadn’t really heard anything heavier than, say, Master of Puppets. I liked Judas Priest when they were fast and aggressive and Halford was screaming like a banshee. Judas Rising was really unlike anything I’d heard at the time. Aggressive, in your face, Halford’s voice sounded as powerful as ever. I didn’t know about the history of the band or that this was his first album with them since Painkiller, but even without the context it was easy to hear the sense of triumph in the performance. 13 years later, it’s still a powerful track and I agree it’s the one 10/10 song on the album.
As for the rest, it’s all pretty good but not spectacular. Some solid rockers that harken back to Priest’s glory days, but this is the first time it feels like the band is looking back rather than forward. Take Painkiller for example. It’s a fantastic album, has that unmistakable Priest sound. But it also sounds fresh and could sit in the company of albums by much younger bands. I’m not saying Priest needed to use 7 string baritone guitars, growling vocals, and blast beats, but there are a lot of musical and lyrical homages to older songs that makes this feel like the Force Awakens of Judas Priest albums. It’s solid, competent, but it doesn’t beat the original.
There are a lot of comparisons to Brave New World naturally and I feel this is the point where the gap between Priest and Maiden is more apparent than ever. One band continued to refine, experiment, and progress. The other, with one exception, pretty much stuck to their winning formula to varying results. Brave New World is a much more exciting album and one I find myself going back to regularly. Angel of Retribution is a solid metal album with mostly good songs but not one I go out of my way for.
I would probably also give this album a 7 out of 10, but more on the low 7 side.
I think Hellrider is a bit of a mess and most of that is due to the vocal structures. Musically, I like it, but it's not in the top tier of Priest's "-er" songs."The only 10/10 on the album", come on, people, are you even listening to "Hellrider"?!
"I feel like this song tries to recapture the same energy and glory as “Judas Rising”, but it tries too hard." - I'd completely disagree with that. I always felt JR was the inferior version of Hellrider, the former perhaps apes their earlier material a little too much, whereas the latter takes a similar feel and does something new and exciting with it.