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This... Is... The Painkiller!!! - 90%

Edward_The_Great, November 12th, 2008

Generally, "Painkiller" is considered Priest's opus amongst their huge and varied discography and I strongly agree, as I've found this to be their only album that doesn't fall short from songs that are either plain crappy or generally weak.

The overall feel of the album is pretty much an extreme Judas Priest evoking the powerful spirit that has become synonymous with their legacy. The whole first half of the album is ripe with fiery guitars, high falsetto vocals, and cheesy lyrics about metal messiahs, dudes in leather, and hellish militias. Good stuff. The second half is a bit darker and epic with the medieval-ish "Between the Hammer and the Anvil", the gothic-ish "Touch of Evil", and "One Shot at Glory" which is as glorious as its name suggests.

The band performance of this album is excellent. Rob Halford’s singing is very diverse, ranging from high pitched falsettos ("Painkiller" or "All Guns Blazing") to his more masculine gruff style ("Between the Hammer and the Anvil" or "Leather Rebel"). K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton go all-out with their solos on the album, (they range from fiery to plain gripping) and often aren’t satisfied with just one. As usual, not much to say about the bass but it seems to do its job. Lastly, Scott Travis makes his debut with Priest on this album, and gives a very solid performance. He does a great job adding some double-bass action into Priest and also contributes an incredibly memorable drum solo at the start of the album.

As far as being innovative, "Painkiller" is fairly notable with its pretty distinguished sound, and its famous title track which is incredibly aggressive for traditional metal with Halford's ferocious screamed vocals being especially uncommon in the style. The band also makes heavy use of sound-effects in "Nightcrawler" and keyboards in "Touch of Evil". I find the double-bass in the drums to also be of noteworthy interest for classic Priest.

Perhaps the greatest thing about this album is how memorable it manages to be. The songs aren't incredible pieces, but they end up sticking with you and thus you become quite attached to them over time, making this album an often nostalgic blast to relisten.

To close up, I've found that this release deserves its place as a metal classic for its consistency, memorable songs, and its powerful spirit. It was a perfect album to close up the first Halford era and its top-form performance really represents the great things about 80's metal one last time as the golden decade of classic metal came to its close. "Painkiller" continues to be one of the most enduring metal albums of my life and is naturally recommended. Just don't expect a revolutionary landmark, but a very solid and meaningful piece of heavy metal.