Friday, February 12, 2016

Judas Priest - Stained Class (1978)

During the time that I have got to know the 4th Judas Priest album, known as "Stained Class", I have become mightily confused over it. In one way, it is their heaviest and darkest album up to date, taking on grim subjects in the lyrical department, but it still felt like they had one foot in that sort of disco groove. I could be wrong there since I am more of a custom to the 80's version of the band (which we have not reached just yet in this discography review series), but there is no denying that Judas Priest was far groovier in their earlier days.

Oh well, "Stained Class" was a very notable album in their career for several reasons, one being that it was the first Judas Priest album to reach success across the pond. The album reached the Billboard 200 chart in USA and was also certified gold status. Another notable thing with this album is that it had song writing contribution from all five members, even the new drummer Les Binks. Yay team work!

The team work is greatly displayed as well in the performance. The bond between the guitarists Tipton and Downing keeps on getting stronger, delivering some amazing solos and riffs here. But it was at this point where Tipton started to emerge as the leader of the two, taking care of most of the solo parts, except on "Savage", "Heroes End", and solo 2 in "Beyond The Realms of Death".

Looking at the quality of the songs in this album, this is certainly one of the more even Priest albums so far, because even if this album is pretty diverse in its sound, all the songs still have a common denominator that makes perfect sense to why they are put together. For example, the opening track "Exciter" may be a fast and crazy steam roller, but it still falls in the same groovy category as the rest of the tracks does. It is just another proof that Judas Priest was ahead of its time, pulling out another thrash song before thrash existed.

The heavy attitude continues in the title track, that chugs along with in classic "Barracuda" style in the verse, just to burst into a simple, but really classy chorus that will make your hair rise. Another speedy track is "White Heat, Red Hot" that is driven by a smooth groove and some frenetic drumming and riffing. But my favourite song here is without a doubt "Beyond The Realms of Death", a strong song about the wish to leave the world behind and die in peace. Not only is this song driven by its heavy lyrics, but also its emotional musicality that strikes every nerve in your system. And like that was not enough, Tipton and Downing delivers a couple of awesome solos to enhance the experience even further. A extremely amazing song that certainly show the band's range.

Then we have the duo "Invader" and "Saints In Hell", two songs are fairly decent, but in some way, also kind of corny. There is something with these songs that I cannot point my finger towards that feels awkward. It is a shame since this hiccup hinders the album from staying fully classy. Besides those two songs, I can't really find anything that annoys me with this album, except the fact that it can be a confusing experience from time to time.

"Stained Class" has the perfect title, it is a classy album that feels polished in so many ways and it certainly stands out from the crowd. However, it does still have some stains that takes away from the complete picture, fortunately for us, those stains are just a small part of the album and can easily be ignored. This is a album that both celebrates the time during which it was conceived, but also looks forward to the future of not only the band itself, but music in general. As shining as chrome, as heavy as steel.

Songs worthy of recognition: Beyond The Realms of Death, Exciter, Stained Class

Rating: 8/10 Savages

No comments:

Post a Comment