HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

JUDAS PRIEST continued

'Wheels Of Fire' is catchy stuff again, just smartly swift but not fast, chugging, again strafed by fiery licks. Then there's 'Angel', again a brave move, an acoustic ballad, but dark and only a little cheesy with the chord changes - I mean that in a good way: Scorpions and Aerosmith are long past being able to write mellow stuff that stirs like this. And man, 'Hellrider' rips a new one too, once more within this weirdly cohesive minimalist, straight-line framework. Closing the record is 'Eulogy'/'Loch Ness' which is so indescribably stupid... I don't know how this got past all that leather, not to mention all the eyes that are supposed to be watching the fort. Conveniently it's at the back, so you can just end the album after 'Hellrider' if you like. But hey, if you do venture into the Loch a bit, please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD climb into the boat before that chorus, because now you're at a hard, carbonic diamond drill bit of stupidity - I mean, all good faith is nearly destroyed by this laughing out loud Russian, vodka-swilling moment. All I can compare it to is Scorpions whistling, UDO doing a Russian folk tune on their last album, or anything by Kruiz or Black Coffee... Halford, dressed like a Cossack, big fur hat, fake moustache, banging a big lizard on the back with a broadsword. This is just the worst. One other minor complaint, I don't like the little elbow in the ribs... "oooh, he said 'sad wings'" or whatever the hell the other little nods to the old lyrics are - I forget right now - blood red skies, vengeance, painkiller etc. (that said, there are some pretty smart lyrics here). Bu t yeah, it just sounds like you drew a blank and had to derive. Pre-chewed food. But man, that's it, and without the massive blemish at the back of the boat (like the mythical creature - try believe it doesn't exist), Angel Of Retribution is a kick-ass yet varied and provocative (I mean discussion-provoking) collection of very solid tracks, each blessed with a different flavour of commerciality yet at the same time, a delectable old school - and even underground - hoariness. And like I say, oy vey, the solos - it's been a long time since I bashed my head through a song, waiting for that moment when I could stop, cock my ear, and enjoy the art and aggression of a well-conceived, very musical but still maniacally metal-emoting guitar solo. Hails on this and hails on such interesting songs.
Rating 8.5

Hard Reviews Page 3