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Painkiller was a very interesting release for Judas Priest for a number of reasons. The most apparent reason, in my opinion, is for many years, Judas Priest had been laying the groundwork for Speed and Power Metal. They never really went full out, but most bands took their basic sound, and then sped it up to create Speed and early Power Metal. Many of these bands flourished in the 80’s and early 90’s and it took the band that influenced them all to show them how it’s done. After showing hints of their more aggressive sound-to-be on Ram It Down, Judas Priest really went all out on Painkiller, which was very aggressive and powerful, yet still very Priest.
The CD opens up with the classic drum intro of the title track, which is one of the best opening tracks ever. Right away you see where Judas Priest is going with their sound. Rob Halford uses his screaming falsetto all the way through and it works very well! The leads are amazing, and the riffs are killer, but The Priest Machine doesn’t let up there though; they continue their onslaught with “Hell Patrol”, “All Guns Blazing”, and my personal favorite song from the CD, “Leather Rebel”. Everything in these songs is just amazing, almost beyond words or classification, because it really is the epitome of good traditional Metal played fast and with energy! It’s almost a bizarro world situation when you think of “Turbo Lover” (with its mid-paced, pop-synth heavy melodic textures), and then “Metal Meltdown” (with it’s crushing and fast riffs, and dark atmosphere) for example- because they’re just that much different in feel. It’s almost as if Priest said, “Ok, all these bands are playing Metal that we started, lets show them who the masters are” and that’s exactly what Judas Priest did with Painkiller. As already mentioned, many bands have come close since the release of Painkiller, but nothing has surpassed Painkiller yet in my opinion. And for the record I also see nothing wrong with “Touch Of Evil”. It has a great atmosphere, vocals, and a terrific break near the end of the song where Halford delivers his most shriekingly perfect scream on the CD with the line, “You’re Possessing Me!”
The weakest song on here is “Between The Hammer And The Anvil”, but hey, it’s still a great song. Just having a song of this quality being overshadowed by the rest of the CD really depicts just how good the actual release is. Every chorus is catchy (my favorite being on “One Shot At Glory”), every lead is solid, every riff is unique, and Scott Travis is a monster behind the kit.
So if you’re into Speed Metal or 80’s Power Metal, definitely pick this up because this is the CD that everyone from Primal Fear, to Iron Savior, to Silent Force are trying to surpass.
Song Highlights: Everything, but Painkiller, Leather Rebel, Metal Meltdown, and Nightcrawler are my favorite.