By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
|Photo by Ross Halfin|
Lastweekweherdedsomeold Judas Priest fans together who were stoked to hear that Rob Halford, metal’s original screamer, had rejoined his mates for AngelofRetribution—the first Priest/Halford recording since 1990’s Painkiller.(Farewell to Priest cover-band singer Ripper Owens, who substituted for Halford in the interim as well as anyone could. He did not suck.)
Our consulting metalheads were carefully chosen. Besides being discriminating listeners, Odin, Fafnir and Loki abuse guitar; Thor and Freya have been known to smash drums.* Before gathering in smallish home rock-rooms to stare fiercely at the speakers, the acolytes prepared themselves for the listening sessions in traditional ways (sucking down prodigious quantities of smoke and beer) or through prayer and meditation. Or both.
DAY 1: ODIN, FREYA AND FAFNIR
ODIN: [seeing thetaperecorder]I’m not gonna say anything. Turn that off.
FAFNIR: I think the kick drum was kind of a crutch there. They kinda relied on that to move it along. Not as strong an opening as they might have manufactured.
ODIN: Downing’s got a weird way of picking like Tony Iommi, makes it almost sound like there’s an effect on it. [Ed.’snote:K.K.DowningisoneofPriest’sdualleadguitarists;TonyIommiisBlackSabbath’sfoundingguitarist.]
FAFNIR: Real intense. It made me feel, like, something about my arches, you know? It was sort of like running.
ODIN: Your feet felt good?
FAFNIR: Yeah. Then the next song [track 3, “Revolution”], I was going, like, “Isn’t this just one old blues riff over and over and over again?”
ODIN: You sound ungrateful.
FAFNIR: I really liked the texture of it, though. All this huge layering. Did you notice that?
ODIN: I noticed how much fun it sounds like this was to make. [Producer] Roy Z, he hasn’t done anything bad yet.
ODIN: I love that kind of riff right there, that’s what I want.
ODIN: They wouldn’t allow that commercial on TV if they had the actual tight shorts. But in the commercial, the Hooters girls could have the slightly baggy shorts.
ODIN: When you’ve got that on, I know that it’s on, and it chokes my creativity.
FAFNIR: This is a good ballad. It’s kicking into Spanish overdrive now.
FAFNIR: I like this psychedelic intro. I really think they did something different with their formula there. Too much kick drum again . . . yet I rock.
ODIN: We’re doing a Roger Glover now.
ODIN: [explains DeepPurplereference]Roger Glover used to unscrew the light bulb so [Ritchie] Blackmore didn’t know when they were recording. Blackmore would seize up when he saw the light.
FAFNIR: Can’t really argue about this one [“Hellrider”] too much. It’s on the level of some of their famous “-er” songs. [“Exciter,” “Jawbreaker,” “Painkiller.”]
ODIN: Homogenizer,that’s a great album.
FAFNIR: Another ballad. Time to take a leak. I feel one of those airplane pisses coming on.
FAFNIR: They’re goin’ for it here. It’s not like they’re fuckin’ around.
ODIN: I have a feeling this is gonna be better than the Sting song. [Sting alsowroteasongaboutLochNess.OdinandFafnirhateSting.]
FREYA: I got hit today.
ODIN: You got hit?
FREYA: Somebody hit the back of my car.
FAFNIR: How is everybody?
ODIN: Anyways, Freya, the Judas Priest album was released today, and we’re right in the middle of listening to it.
FREYA: Oh, sorry.
FREYA: Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Ha! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh.
FAFNIR: How did you know this song was going to be remarkable?
ODIN: It’s about the Loch Ness monster, for god’s sake.
FAFNIR: “Lochness, confess your terror of the deep.” Wow, this is corny shit. I’m not sure if the riffs are convincing me. Not evil enough.
TheDVDdocumentaryportionoftheAngel of Retribution packageisupnext.2004reunionconcertfootagecomeson.
ODIN: Whoa, I want to see that again!
FAFNIR: Wow, he butt-fucked ’em all in a row there, didn’t he? I think it’s funny that he decided it’s okay to butt-fuck his bandmates onstage now.
FAFNIR: I believe that Halford’s got more studs on him than ever before in his rock career. I mean, you can’t go downin the studs department. You have to kinda keep going up,right?
ODIN: Yeah. A stud-finder would go mental on Halford.
FAFNIR: After the age of 35 or so, rock stars need bigger and bigger sunglasses. It’s the eyes that really betray the age.
ODIN: Is that right?
FAFNIR: Even Paul Westerberg has big sunglasses now. Sifa and I went to see him the other night, because she’s a huge fan.
ODIN: Don’t tell Freya that. She really wanted to go.
FAFNIR: It was bad.
ODIN: Here’s the real question: What if you were Paul Westerberg? Was it okay?
FAFNIR: Man, that’s a good question. I don’t think I can answer that. It’s almost like that’s what he goes for, is that kind of messed-up experience. It was successful for Sifa, cause she falls for that. [Now Fafnirisactingjealous.]She wants to be his mom, you know, and take care of him, because he’s such a fuck-up. That’s how he’s always got girlfriends, I’m sure, too. By pretending that he’s really fucked up, and he really needs their help.
ODIN: I first heard that in, like, ’77. And of course I had no idea that it was a Joan Baez song. I was living in that apartment looking over the freeway. I was living with my brother. That’s when I had that album.
FAFNIR: I’m impressed with the way Priest decided to reconsider their past in a way that is not imitative of themselves. Maybe a bit imitative of other people. The music is successful. On a production level — mixing, just impeccable. Really, like, powerful.
ODIN: It seems to be done in the right frame of mind. The right sentiment.
FREYA: It would be cool if I had that haircut.
FAFNIR: You haven’t changed your haircut in quite a while.
ODIN: Hey, that’s really a mean thing to say.
FREYA: Fafnir, you haven’t changed yours in a while either.
ODIN: On the RodneyontheROQshow in ’79 or something, he had Ian Hunter on as a guest. And Ian Hunter was calling live, on tour in Connecticut. And Rodney Bingenheimer, in the middle of the interview, after being a really cool, hang-out-and-chat, Bingenheimer kind of guy, goes, “What about your image, man? It doesn’t seem like you’ve changed, you’ve always got the same kind of image, with the sunglasses and everything.” And he had to go, “Yeah, I guess so . . .”
FAFNIR: “. . . fuckwad . . .”
DAY 2: LOKI, THOR AND FAFNIR
ThorhasbroughtacopyofHeavy Metal Parking Lot, theclassicshortdocumentaryonJudasPriestfans’pre-showfestivities.Oneofthestonersubjectsdreamsabout“Ajointsobig,itfitsacrossAmerica.”
FAFNIR: He could have been in HeavyMetalParkingLot20 years ago!
THOR: It’s the same guy!
FAFNIR: He’s still 20 years old! How did that happen? Drugs and acid preserved him.
THOR: Maybe I shoulda stuck with it.
FAFNIR: What state of mind do you have to be in to play the same song, like, a thousand times?
LOKI: I dunno, does whacking off ever get old? It never really does, and it’s about the same.
THOR: In the [past] they were experimenting more. This one seems like they’re using more reliable formulas. Now the contracts say that you’ve got to have one that will sell or whatever. Compared to, let’s say, Painkiller,the drum production on this is way more ambient. You feel it more than you hear it.
FAFNIR: But then, you’re a drummer.
THOR: That means I get to ride the bus for free! I get to park close to the entrance of Ralphs!
LOKI: That was almost like Jane’s Addiction, that riff. I liked it a lot, but that was the least Priest-like song.
FAFNIR: There’s a little bit of Led Zeppelin . . .
THOR: I heard Soundgarden.
FAFNIR: I hear Marilyn Manson in there too.
LOKI: I like this song, too. I just wish Halford would open it up a little, at least once, just for us: “Let’s hear Ripper sing like this.”
THOR: Many hesher girlfriends will be happy that that one’s on there.
LOKI: That’s one that Night Ranger didn’t get around to recording. They sound like they’re trying to be five different bands. But I like the sound, personally.
THOR: Well, you’re wrong.
THOR: That one makes me want to go rob convenience stores. With Judas Priest, that’s how you judge success.
FAFNIR: Wind chimes — takes balls.
THOR: It’s so egregious. Length and heaviness.
LOKI: It’s like they broke it up into two songs. They said, “This’ll give Halford time for a wardrobe change.” With those long coats on, he looks more and more like Hellraiser.
LOKI: Was that the last track? They went out with a rumble.
THOR: Smack you over the head with a cinder block.
LOKI: That’s not gonna be a single. You gotta admire that.
ComparisonsaremadebetweenPainkiller andAngel of Retribution.
FAFNIR: It’s like the difference between speed and pot. That’s the same kind of intersection Metallica had.
THOR: That last record’s horrible [Metallica’s St.Anger].God, I can’t stand that record.
FAFNIR: As a drummer?
THOR: Ah, Jesus! Somebody shoulda kicked that idiot out and stepped all over him. He plays like a white tennis player.
FAFNIR: There’s some really good white tennis players.
THOR: You also liked that one song, though. [“Worth Fighting For” from the new Priest.]
FAFNIR: Yeah . . .
FAFNIR: I do phosphoresce a little bit. Not every day, but every once in a while you need to put on a tutu.
Overall rankings for AngelofRetribution
Freya: 8 “That ‘Lochness’ song is stuck in my head. And I am not sure that I like that.”
“Heart of a Lion” and Scott Travis: A Judas Priest Reunion Time Circle
1987: “Heart of a Lion” appears on an album by a respected but little-known rock band from Los Angeles, Racer X. The song, written by Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing, has a crushing riff and an unforgettable chorus — quintessential Judas Priest. Yet it will never show up on a regular Priest album. Racer X’s drummer: Scott Travis.
1990: Travis, having left Racer X, records Painkillerwith his new band, Judas Priest.
1993: Halford and Travis leave Judas Priest to form the harder-edged Fight. It goes nowhere.
1997: Halford and John Lowery (later called John5 with Marilyn Manson) form the industrial duo Two, produced by Trent Reznor. Travis has gone back to Judas Priest to record and tour with front man Ripper Owens.
2000: Fighting unprecedented invisibility, Halford releases Resurrectionwith his new band, Halford, which sounds suspiciously like Judas Priest.
2001: Two studio songs are tacked on to Halford’s nominally live LiveInsurrection,and one of them is a blistering version of “Heart of a Lion” that sounds exactly like Judas Priest.
2004: Judas Priest releases the retrospective box Metalogy,which includes a demo version of “Heart of a Lion” recorded by Priest in the ’80s. During communications about the box, the idea of a reunion has come up. Judas Priest, including Halford and Travis, go on the Ozzfest tour.
2005: Judas Priest, with the same lineup that made Painkiller,drop AngelofRetribution.The circle is closed.
Behold The Wings of Rock!
Whoever said hard rock was strictly phallic just wasn't paying attention.