1. Judas Rising 2. Deal With The Devil 3. Revolution 4. Worth Fighting For 5. Demonizer 6. Wheels Of Fire 7. Angel 8. Hellrider 9. Eulogy 10. Lochness
Let me first start by bringing you up to speed on my thoughts on Priest's past. Everyone and their mother knows the might and fury of everything Judas Priest related prior to "Turbo". Those records helped define heavy metal, it outlined the entire plan from scratch. Soaring vocals, twin guitar assaults, bombastic drums, and bone crushing bass were all signatures to the Judas Priest sound, and to a lesser degree the entire new wave movement. After "Painkiller" I bought into Halford's Fight project, giving both records quality spins through the years. I felt that the Halford solo act was a little less than what I expected. Those records just missed purpose, almost as if they exist only to further remind us that Rob Halford is still breathing to an extent. The one thing that really lit a fire under me was Tim Owens.
While Halford struggled with his direction and purpose, Owens stormed into town with a voice that could shake the mountains. His efforts in the Priest post-Halford camp were phenomenal, making generic songwriting less noticeable through brute strength and power. I'm the only person on the planet that enjoyed both "Jugulator" and "Demolition". Those albums helped fuel an entire power metal movement, adding in a generous amount of thrash and heaviness while still soaring in the heavens with falsetto bravery. Look at bands such as Imagika, Centurion, Seven Witches, Cage, and a host of others who popped up after Owens and Priest made it okay for power metal to be heavy and aggressive. Anyone who says that Tim Owens is a weak vocalist, well, in my most Urban bravado and get-up.....the boy got game.
I was a bit disturbed by the news that Owens was kicked out of Priest, and call it what you want, the man was kicked out, replaced by Halford so the group could ride a few more years on the reunion carpet ride. On the other side of the fence you have Iced Earth, a band that cut their teeth with Mathew Barlow at the helm, the vocalist adding his wicked charm to the group's power thrash sensations. During the recording for Iced Earth's "The Glorious Burden", Barlow was kicked out of the band (anyone disputing that should just look at Schaffer's track record). In comes Owens. At this point we may have one very good band in Iced Earth and a quality showing for the classic Priest lineup. Momma's oven just heated up folks.
Now with both "The Glorious Burden" and "Angel Of Retribution" in the record books, the "cool down" phase has already firmly set in. Needless to say I am a bit disappointed with the way things have turned out. Iced Earth just doesn't fit with Owens. I'll say it again. Iced Earth just doesn't fit with Owens. "The Glorious Burden" is a good album but it just doesn't seem like it is quite good enough. The record had a few decent cuts with the "Gettysburg Trilogy" being the only saving grace. The idea of Halford joining Priest was a decent idea, and it will help circulate that classic metal buzz, but folks, let's come to our senses and be reasonable. "Angel Of Retribution" stinks. Just absolutely reeks to be quite honest with you. Those of you hoping to hop on here and read my detailed review of the album can look elsewhere. I'm not going to bother giving you an analysis of each track or a description of the album's vibe. This doesn't even warrant that. I've stressed to you my concerns regarding Owens and Halford, and the problems they are going to run into down the road.
I honestly can just put the blame of corrupting two good bands on Tipton, Downing, and Hill. The critics out there can just hop on the reunion wagon with along with Priest, praising their new found creativity and putting thoughts into young minds everywhere that this is how metal should be. Just keep in mind that this record isn't nearly as good as you want it to be. Sure, it has some average cuts, the best being a weak attempt to capture the powerful mood of "Desert Plains". The heavy songs sound generic, with even B and C grade German bands playing those riffs better and more sincere. Rob Halford's voice is completely out of key, at times coming across as a small child, lacking any real effort to bring strength and determination into the forefront. From start to finish this album is just average, at times sinking into "Ram It Down" territory, which by all means is definitely not a good thing.
For those of you looking for the "Painkiller"/"Defenders Of The Faith" sound, just keep spinning Primal Fear. Early Priest fans, just keep playing "Sad Wings Of Destiny".
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.
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