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Judas Priest

The metal gods are back! With the return of frontman Rob Halford to Judas Priest, Angel of Retribution is the most anticipated album of the year. It's the first studio effort from the Painkiller-era of Judas Priest in more than a decade.

The good news is that Priest, individually and collectively, have not lost a step since they parted ways. Halford continues to establish himself as one of metal's most ominous vocalists on all 10 tracks, and the overall sound of Angel combines elements of the classic Priest sound. Hints of Screaming for Vengeance, Hell Bent for Leather and Painkiller are easily recognizable, with an updated twist.

A wailing guitar intro leads into a classic Halford scream, then a meaty drum fill finishes the intro of the album's opener, "Judas Rising." "White bolts of lightning came out of nowhere / Blinded the darkness, created the storm," Halford grunts and harmonizes in the opening verse of the meaty track.

A song about the mythical legend, "Lochness" is a 13-minute masterpiece that reintroduces the concept of the epic, with various riff, tempo and mood changes artfully utilized.

Between song titles ("Demonizer" and "Hellrider") and lyrics ("We built our world of metal / Watched it grow / Fueled the fury solid to the bone," from "Deal With the Devil"), this album seems more likely to have been released in 1985 than 2005.

Angel of Retribution makes for a great album for any fan of Judas Priest.

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