After 15 years of pursuing other projects, Vocalist Rob Halford is back with the other four original members of Judas Priest, and they haven't missed a beat. Halford and Guitarist Glenn Tipton, Guitarist K.K. Downing, Bassist Ian Hill and Drummer Scott Travis released their new CD/DVD Angel of Retribution this spring and just wrapped up the United States leg of their Retribution Tour.
Angel of Retribution CD/DVD
Judas Priest released their new CD/DVD Angel of Retribution on March 1, 2005 on Epic Records, their first album to be released since Painkiller in 1990. A of R has exceeded all expectations and has already joined the ranks of British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance and Painkiller as timeless Priest classics. The DVD portion of the album shows energetic concert footage from their Retribution Tour 2005.
"We've got a lot of energy," adds Lead Guitarist K.K. Downing, "we're firing on all cylinders, and it's obvious on this album. A lot of people who have listened to the album have said it's timeless. You really couldn't date it."
On many comeback albums bands reinvent their music to follow their matured musical sensibilities and artistic growth, or to fit into the current mainstream. Judas Priest has done neither, taking off right where they left off 15 years ago. According to Vocalist Rob Halford, it's as if the time they were apart had not taken place.
"That decade that we were out of each others company just seems to have vanished in smoke," says Halford. "When we got together to begin writing the new material for Angel of Retribution, it was really a continuation of where we would have been had we made the next record after Painkiller. All the pieces were already in place."
Angel of Retribution is comprised of 10 new songs that deviate little from the style in which they were writing 15 years ago. And the songs are great for that reason. A of R opens with "Judas is Rising" a metal masterpiece wrought with harmonizing guitar work and Halford's screaming vocals. "Deal with the Devil" follows, featuring pummeling drum work and a thrashing beat reminiscent of their classic "You've Got Another Thing Comin'."
"Revolution" is A of R's first hit to receive radio play. It attempts to prepare the world for their comeback with the following lyrics: 'if you think it's over, better think again, there'll be no compromise, turning up the power, feel adrenaline, move into overdrive, here comes the Revolution, time for Retribution.' Also worth noting is A of R's metal ballad "Angel," destined to be a fan favorite, and possibly their best ballad ever. Another favorite is "Hellrider," a guitar lovers dream, showcasing the spine chilling lead guitar work of Downing and Tipton.
Retribution Tour 2005
We caught the Chicago leg of the Retribution Tour in June. Judas Priest performed with the energy of a brand new band and with the virtuosity of accomplished musicians. Halford's voice was amazing; he hit the high notes easily and screamed as loud as ever. Downing and Tipton haven't slowed down a bit, and whipped out solos with amazing skill and speed. The band members looked confident and proud like knew they were good, and they were. Downing walked back and forth across the stage, goading the audience to go nuts. The whole arena was having fun.
The concert began with Electric Eye, Metal Gods and Touch of Evil. Halford wore a long black leather jacket covered with spikes and studs. Then they played Judas is Rising, the first song off their new CD/DVD Angel of Retribution. Halford rose on a platform at the back of the stage before a backdrop painted with the figure of the Angel appearing on A of R's cover. Fake flames blew at his feet, reflecting orange off the long silver coat he wore. At one point Travis spun a drum stick 15 feet up in the air to symbolize the 'Rising,' caught it again, and continued drumming without missing a beat.
Halford used a voice manipulator throughout much of the concert to add echo and distortion to his singing. The effects sounded intuitive, like he was manipulating his voice himself and not relying on technician. It allowed him to expand the musical limits of his vocal cords, as if his vocal cords weren't impressive enough unaided.
Priest then played Revolution, the first hit off the A of R CD/DVD. Around the side and back of the stage ran a catwalk 10 feet above the floor. Halford carried a flag emblazed with the Judas Priest logo up to the catwalk and waved it around while strutting back and forth, finally planting it at one end. As the song continued he planted another flag on the other side, effectively claiming the throne of heavy metal as their own again.
For Breaking the Law, Halford came out wearing a long, red and black brocade coat. Tipton, Downing, Hill and Halford stood close together and did their signature swaying back and forth in sync to start the song. Halford had the audience sing the chorus. The crowd was on their feet throwing punches to the air. The band was enjoying it as much as we were.
They then played I'm a Rocker, Diamonds and Rust and Deal with the Devil, the second song off A of R. Halford kept miming and gesturing to the crowd as if he was saying "what do you think? Do we sound awesome or what?" During Diamonds and Rust both guitar players soloed. This audience sang louder than Halford during the chorus. It was emotional.
For Turbo Lover, Halford wore a long black leather robe with an intricate silver brocade skull on the back. They then played Hellrider, off the A of R album, and then Victim of Changes. For Exciter Halford ditched the long coats and came out in a short leather jacket. The light show was energetic and pulsed with the speedy drum beat. During Painkiller, Halford stuck his butt out of the short leather jacket, finally letting us see him flex his spandex clad glutes.
The first encore of the night was Hell Bent for Leather, for which Halford entered the stage on his traditional Harley Davidson. He wore a sparkly glitter waist coat with silver dog tags hanging from the front and down the arms. The second encore was Living After Midnight. For this song they turned fans on the Judas Priest flags Halford had planted on the catwalk and they flapped impressively. The night capped off with You've Got Another Thing Comin'. Judas Priest received roaring applause which visibly pleased the band.
Priest completed the European and Japanese leg of the tour this spring, and just wrapped up their US tour in Phoenix. They will be taking on Mexico and South America this fall. If you missed the Tour, I strongly encourage you to buy the Angel of Retribution CD/DVD. The DVD captures the same excitement and showmanship that they delivered live, only with close up views not even a front row ticket can provide.
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