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Judas Priest

Priest Redux

PriestSince vocalist Rob Halford left iconic metal act Judas Priest in 1992, fans held out hope that there would some day be a reunion. In 2003, their wish came true: Halford rejoined the group with news of a summer Ozzfest berth, a planned new studio album and a world tour the following year.

The second prong of the plan is "Angel of Retribution," a new studio album due this week via Epic. It's Halford's first album with the band since 1990's "Painkiller" and was produced by Roy Z, who has previously worked on solo albums from Halford and Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson. The set will be bundled with a concert DVD shot in a bullring in Valencia, Spain.

Many songs here recall the ferocious, full-on metal assault of "Painkiller." The track "Deal With the Devil" is classic Priest, while "Hell Rider," includes a blazing, furious double-guitar attack. The lyrics in "Judas Rising" can be attributed to the group's reunion, though frontman Rob Halford points out that it is also about "the virtues that we believe in," such as being optimistic and fighting for your beliefs.

This is what Judas Priest fans want, and while the band is happy to deliver it, dealing with the expectations of devotees is still a heavy responsibility. "It wasn't easy to write this album in the sense that everybody's watching, everybody's waiting and obviously you're under the microscope," guitarist Glen Tipton says. "I think if we tried too hard to write to order, we would have made a big mistake, so all we did is sit down and write naturally."