Thursday, January 14, 2016

Judas Priest - Sin After Sin (1977)

Now that the foundation of their sound was finished, Judas Priest started to take it to a heavier and a more aggressive level with their third full length album, and their first under a major label, "Sin After Sin". Even if the band made progress with the change of record label and their sound, the problem of finding the right drummer remained, as Alan Moore left the band (for the second time) during the recording of the album. Instead, it was Simon Phillips who helped record the drums for the record, and because Simon was committed to another band, Leslie Binks became the official drummer once the band went on tour again.

But enough of the endless line of drummers that has come and gone through the Priest, "Sin After Sin" was produced by former Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover. Even if this cooperation did not work at first, he did manage to help the band in the end, creating a really nice sounding album for this era. It is certainly the clearest production up to this point of the band's career, and it still has that rough edge that personified the ever evolving Priest sound.

"Sin After Sin" was also the album that gave the band its first commercial success, but strangely, it was not thanks to any of their own material. Instead, it was the Joan Baez cover "Diamonds & Rust" that got the most air time on the radio stations. I do agree that it is an enjoyable cover, and it is a hell of a lot more exciting than the original, but I feel like this is in the same genre as the Kiss song "I Was Made For Loving You", which means that this would be classified as rock disco. Still, I would dance to it.

While "Diamonds & Rust" got the most success, I believe that there are other songs in this record that should have been praised, like the last song of the album, "Dissident Aggressor". This song was the band's heaviest to date, and is a early blue print to thrash metal. It is heavy, fast, aggressive, and it uses double bass, a recipe that would later inspire such bands as Motörhead, Metallica, Slayer and others (Slayer has even done a cover of the song in "South of Heaven"). In my humble opinion, it was with that song that the heavier part of Judas Priest was born.

The opening is also pretty note worthy, because even if "Sinner" is not too aggressive in its approach, it still got some good speed in it, and a groovy chorus that is irresistible. We also have "Starbreaker", that could be best described as a early version of one of the band's coming classics, "You've Got Another Thing Comin'". It basically got the same feeling and riffing, just different lyrics and a slightly easier approach.

But what happened to the progressive elements that was so prominent in "Sad Wings of Destiny"? They are still here, but they are not as great as one would have hoped. While I do enjoy songs like "Let Us Prey/Call For The Priest" and "Here Come The Tears", I still miss that magic touch that "Sad Wings of Destiny" had. The reason for this could be that "Sin After Sin" is more divided in its sound than its predecessor, but I am not really sure.

No matter what, "Sin After Sin" is still a fantastic and enjoyable record with several cool songs that would secure the future for the band. While it is still a step down from "Sad Wings of Destiny", it still got a own, heavy personality that is easy to like for what it is. If nothing else, this one marked the start for the well diverse Judas Priest that we know of today, the one that can combine its heavy and more progressive songs in a synergy that is simply amazing. The band shows once again that they are stabbing and bawling, punching and crawling all the way to the top.

Songs worthy of recognition: Dissident Aggressor, Starbreaker, Here Come The Tears

Rating: 8/10 Sinners

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