"Stained Class", "Killing Machine" (also known as "Hell Bent For Leather" in the states) shows a evolution that took them more towards the more accessible sound, with simpler structures and catchier choruses. So yeah, this is a album where we will not find a new "Victim of Change" or "Behind The Realms of Death".
But does this more accessible sound mean that the band has started selling out? I do not think so, because "Killing Machine" is just as heavy and dark as its predecessors, maybe even heavier. Not only does Rob Halford go wild with tons of different vocal styles, but both Tipton and Downing impresses with their diversity, showing both heavy and blues riff, and even including some tapping into the album. So despite being a simpler album, it still has some nice complexity in it.
It was also around this time where the band started to adapt their now patented style of leather clothing to the band's image, and that image was also reflected in the music. The music in here just feels much more macho and straight forward here, which does fit well with the band's new personality, and to the now classic Harley Davidson entry by Rob Halford.
However, the change is not all for the good. I feel like "Killing Machine" does lack something special to take it to the next level. It is good, just not brilliant, and even if there is diversity in the album, I feel like there is not enough of it. Also, the song quality is a bit underwhelming. It is overall fairly good, with no song that I fully dislike, but except from the classic "Hell Bent For Leather" (which is a little too short for me), there is no other track that I love.
There are however small details that I find very enjoyable in some of the songs. I appreciate the ambition to create a sort of sing along anthem in "Take On The World", and the straight forward "Delivering The Goods" and "Rock Forever" does have their charm. Then we have some cool riffing in "Running Wild" (even if the beginning sounds a lot like Iron Maiden's "The Wicker Man", a song that was conceived over 20 years later), and "Before The Dawn" is a nice and dark little ballad. So even if this feels like a middle of the road album, it still have some nice things in it.
"Killing Machine" is far from a killer album. With a bigger simplicity and a more accessible sound, it feels like the band is in a middle of a evolution phase. Personally, I think this album may have been a little rushed, being released only 8 months after "Stained Class", but you can't blame the band since they were on fire during this time, expanding in a rapid speed. Oh well, "Killing Machine" is still a enjoyable album that should keep fans entertained for some time. The band still delivers the goods, just not as good as the previous ones.
Songs worthy of recognition:
Rating: 7/10 Evening Stars