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In the late 70's I'm sure all the Metal fans were interested to hear what Judas Priest had up their sleeve after the amazing Stained Class, I know I would have been. Released as Hell Bent For Leather in North America, Killing Machine proved that Judas Priest were not going to go away after a couple of solid releases. Killing Machine was largely a release full of varied musical influences and styles that fully experimented with the current (at the time) forms of Rock and Metal music.
The blues and hard rock side of Judas Priest show up a lot more on Killing Machine than it did on Stained Class. Both "Rock Forever" and "Evil Fantasies" are almost more Hard Rock than metal, as is the arena rock, very Queen sounding "Take On The World". This isn't really a bad thing though, "Rock Forever" does have it's moments, including some nice double bass, but overall it's one of the weaker songs on Killing Machine; on the other hand, "Evil Fantasies" is a very underrated Judas Priest song that I find myself liking a lot (I see Danzig being very influenced by this track). The more straight classic Metal tracks of course populate Killing Machine with killer riffs, leads, and melodies... although each of the more straight forward Metal songs still have a slight blues tinge as well as early Speed Metal tendencies. Songs like "Hell Bent For Leather", "Killing Machine", "Riding On The Wind", "Burnin' Up", and "Delivering The Goods" are Judas Priest classics; "Killing Machine" in particular being very underrated. Much like Stained Class, Killing Machine features an amazing cover- this time it's a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)" that to this day remains a fan favorite. In the form of "Evening Star" and "Beyond The Dawn" we hear Judas Priest experimenting with softer sounds, with "Beyond The Dawn" being a full-on ballad. The ballad is successful, while "Evening Star" is a weak track in my opinion.
Halford's vocals are further refined on Killing Machine as we hear a lot of different styles; every song is a highlight from that perspective. Everyone else turns out a quality performance, with Les Binks once again laying the groundwork for Speed and Thrash with his drumming. The lyrics are typical Heavy Metal/Hard Rock fair and are a step down from Stained Class.
The remaster contains an excellent song entitled "Fight For Your Life"; how this song did not make it on an actual release is beyond me- it's really good. The live song is the classic "Riding On The Wind". The sound is decent with only slightly awkward sounding vocals (more due to the sound system I think). Overall, Killing Machine has a lot of great Judas Priest classics and is also home to many underrated songs, however, "Rock Forever", "Take On The World", and "Evening Star" are a step down from the rest of their material. At times Killing Machine is more commercial sounding than Stained Class, but the quality of the songs is still high so I'm recommending this to anyone with an interest in classic Metal even though there is dip in quality when compared to Stained Class with certain songs.