Thursday, December 3, 2015

Judas Priest - Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)

Dubbed as one of the most important albums of all time, the 1976 release "Sad Wings of Destiny" was the first album that showed signs of what would eventually make Judas Priest what they are today. Unlike its predecessor "Rocka Rolla", it is more diverse in its execution, and the band had more freedom in expressing themselves musically. Just by judging the fantastic album cover, you would instantly know that the band would come up with a sophomore effort that exceeds the expectations.

One should still remember that during the making of this album, the band was living pretty tight. Several members worked part time jobs and the overall budget for the album was a measly 2000£, which certainly is reflected in the production, even if it is far better than the one in "Rocka Rolla". Jeffery Calvert and Max West did a great job together with the band in the production department.

But it is not the production that makes "Sad Wings of Destiny" such a magnificent record. It is that sweet mix of riff driven rock and progressive melodies that makes this album a stunning one. It has a goal, a purpose, and most importantly, a passion that is spewing out from every note and beat coming out of those speakers. The band must have really enjoyed themselves despite the circumstances.

The biggest difference on this album has to be Rob Halford. If "Rocka Rolla" was his warm up record, then he is all fired up here, mixing slow, delicate, and moody vocals with screams that will give you the chills. His range on this record is spectacular to say the least, he dominates every track with his god like vocals. It is easy to see why he became The Metal God with all metal heads out there.

Then we have the set list, probably not the most famous songs that the band has ever made, but still a great bunch of tracks that ties the album together well. The two opening tracks, "Victim of Changes" and "The Ripper", is unmistakeably the most famous tracks, and it is not hard to see why. "Victim of Changes" is a 8 minute giant where the band shows their whole register, the riffs, the moods, and of course, a couple of awesome solos. "The Ripper" is more of a direct hit, a simple, but super effective song about the notorious London killer Jack The Ripper.

The remaining 7 tracks gets a little over shadowed by the opening 2, but they are still a worthy listen, even if they do variate in terms of quality. The due "Dreamer Deceiver" and "Deceiver" works well together and finishes the A side in a terrific way, while the whole B side are mixed with groovy head movers ("Island of Domination"), ZZ Top rocking melodies ("Genocide"), speedy guitars ("Tyrant"), and a Queen like ballad without guitars ("Epitaph"). A interesting bunch of songs that unfortunately does give the impression that the band had no clear direction they wanted to take with the second half of the record.

So does "Sad Wings of Destiny" deserve the praise that it has gotten over the years? Absolutely, this is a magnificent album in which Judas Priest shows its true self for the first time, and does so by firing on all cylinders. The A side may be more even and impressive in its performance, but the B side should not be forgotten, it shows the massive range that the band possesses. A impressive piece of art that has no reason at all to be sad over its destiny.

Songs worthy of recognition: Victim of Changes, The Ripper, Dreamer Deceiver, Island of Domination

Rating: 8,5/10 Tyrants

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