Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Judas Priest - Painkiller (1990)

The year was 1990, and even if we were heading into a decade were almost all of the famous 80's metal bands dropped a lot of balls, the veterans in Judas Priest were already feeling the pressure. A lot of younger, hotter band had caught up and passed them, while the Brits had stalled with the double sandwich "Turbo" and "Ram It Down". But suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, the Priest rose again with a album that was harder, faster, stronger, and fiercer than anything the band has ever presented us with before. A album that once again showed the greatness of the band. A album called "Painkiller".

This is what I instantly think of when Judas Priest is mentioned, a band that wields the double guitars like they were on fire, and a Metal God that screams his lungs out. The band performs at such a high level that it is safe to wonder if they are Germany engineered machines. But what about the new drummer Scott Travis? He does an impressive job as well, and he wastes no time in showing it, kicking off the album with a slamming drum solo in the title track. About a super hero saving the world from complete destruction, "Painkiller" is probably the best opener you could ever think of with its killer riffs and solos, its loud drum work, and most importantly, a Rob Halford that pulls off the most evil, insane, and the most metal vocals man has ever heard. It is an insane song that gets your blood boiling and fist pumping, a kick off like none other.

So with such an awesome start, you would think that the album would be starting to slip after that, but somehow, it does not. The band spits out killer song after killer song with the frequency of a machine gun, and the ammo seems to be never ending. Let us analyze this in chronological order, "Hell Patrol" follows up the title track in straight forward fashion, a simple, but effective tune with awesome riffing. Then Halford raises his pitch again in "All Guns Blazing", a extremely powerful song that blasts the drums far into the stratosphere. "Leather Rebel" comes shortly after, the absolute catchiest song in the album (and that is saying a lot), and it also acts as a anthem to the band members and their leather style.

While the standard is still extremely high even after that, the three following songs ("Metal Meltdown", "Night Crawler", and "Between The Hammer & The Anvil") does act as sort of a breather for the listener. While being stellar songs and possible highlights if they had been in any other Priest album, it is easy to forget about them when the album is over because its brethren are even bigger, badder, and stronger, especially the song that follows this trio.

"A Touch of Evil" is a different song in this album. Instead of dazzling us with speed or killer riffs, Halford lures us in to a dark dungeon with his menacing vocals, and he is accompanied with synthesizers that are from Satan himself. I could almost describe the song as a ballad, but it is more of a psychological horror show, including a terrific chorus, and a solo that gives you the biggest of chills. I am on the edge of my seat all of the 5 minutes and 44 seconds, and I love every second of it. You simply cannot resist "A Touch of Evil".

That itself would have been a great closer to "Painkiller", but "One Shot At Glory" gets that job (together with the small intro "Battle Hymn"), and it does it with the honor. It is another speedy, riff filled monster, but this one has a chorus that gets you pumped up and makes your vocal chords move on their own, making sure that you end the album on the most positive of notes. And to top it all off, we also have a long and versatile solo that could go on forever. What... an... ending!

Judas Priest has released a lot of great albums over the years, but "Painkiller" outclasses them all. This album delivers a power that would make the Juggernaut jealous, and while the album has a clear sound that goes through all of its run time, it still presents a great versatility. However, what makes "Painkiller" so mindblowingly awesome (besides that kick ass album cover) is one simple thing, it packs 10 killer songs, having no dips or fillers in sight. It is pure awesomeness from start to finish. It's faster than a bullet, it's full of anger, it louder than an atom bomb, and it answer to our pleas. It is the "Painkiller".

Songs worthy of recognition: A Touch of Evil, Painkiller, Hell Patrol, All Guns Blazing, Leather Rebel, One Shot At Glory

Rating: 10/10 Battle Hymns

More reviews of Judas Priest
Rocka Rolla
Sad Wings of Destiny
Sin After Sin
Stained Class
Killing Machine
British Steel
Point of Entry
Screaming For Vengeance
Defenders of The Faith
Ram It Down
Angel of Retribution
Redeemer of Souls

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