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He Is The Painkiller, This Is Just ... Bleh - 82%

Luvers666, July 7th, 2007

Because of the popularity of this release, there is going to be just as many people dismissing it's greatness and those who praise it's merits, however it does not deserve to be in either. The album is a fine line along sheer talent and respectability and utterly dull mediocrity. Sure there are some ruthlessly amazing tracks of boiling metal here, like: Painkiller, Nightcrawler, Between The Hammer & The Anvil. But for every legendary track here there is a stale and fruitless slab of predictable metal, like: Hell Patrol, One Shot At Glory and Metal Meltdown. What this album seems to suggest is that Priest decided to abandon all their talents of skill and precision for brutal aggression that is either spot on greatness or uninspired boringness.

We start with the title track which needs no description, just look at the ridiculous album cover. A machine man(pun intended) with wings riding on a motorcycle made out of a snake with large saws as wheels. It leaves you to wonder who they were trying to impress, the young teenagers who, unless they embraced any info page on the internet, does not have a clue on where the band has come from. Or the long-time fans who have put up with the childish lyrics that accompany the album art with horrible cliches and screaming dullness? Either way both can find enjoyment with the title track, from it's powerful drum intro to the melodic riffs driving every second of the song. To the guitar solos that set new standards for the band to every single world being screamed so loud the aliens 25 million light years away could hear and hear well.

Hell Patrol?, okay Priest we know you like to talk about made-up creatures but you met that quota with the title track, move on. The music is great and vocal delivery is nice but it could have been better. Leather Rebel is a monster track with strong double bass drums that remains consistent throughout, but becomes awesome far to late. Waiting until thirty seconds before the songs conclusion before that spell-binding "Leather Rebel" scream comes in and sends you head banging.
Now we have Metal Meltdown and you have to ask why they chose to put the song here. Sure it has a great speedy solo at the beginning, very reminiscent of Victim Of Changes, which leads into Hell Patrol Part 2wo. The only redeeming qualities are the fact that the mind-numbing lyrics do not deal with a specific character and that totally awesome bridge at 3:45: "It's Coming, Meltdown. Start Running, "Countdown". But the last minute proves the song had very little ideas to begin with.

Night Crawler brings the album back up, where we finally get a good character, one not buried in cartoonish futility. With the spooky keyboard intro, highly memorable main riff and verses that head bang with authority. Plus that bridge is simply amazing, then slowed down section, with it's horrifying lyrics about a villain who is about to greet it's unfortunate? victims within a chamber. The major flaw with this song is the fact that the '98 Live Meltdown version some eight years later and with a different vocalist take this song where it should be here.
Between the Hammer and the Anvil is where things take a sudden trip back into time, back when Priest were writing tales about darkness and doom and religion, back when most people revere them at their greatest. But with that in mind it becomes sad that the band has the ability to make it work even now as this song is easily the second best on the whole record. Admist the 240 BPM on almost every song is this slower song that is not really slow. The band cuts down on the distortion and details their feelings towards the utterly stupid trial they sadly had to go through. A great mesmerizing solo and screamed lyrics later the song unfortunately reaches a conclusion as it is tunes like this that you wish would never reach a conclusion.
Touch Of Evil is a mid paced pseudo-ballad with epic atmosphere, which is increased by the dark, tingling keyboard work of Don Airey. Complete with bell chimes and blowing wind the song takes you on a thrill ride you wish would not end with dark and twisted lyrics. But the highlight is the mind blowing solo by Glenn, which is simply out of this world. That song should have ended the album but instead we are given "One Shot at Glory", which is a boring and useless anthem, something that, aside from the solos, could be and has been done by Priest and countless others before.
The bonus track Living Bad Dreams is good and should of replaced One Shot At Glory, with it's driving verses that build to a lackluster chorus at first but once repeated gets better. Overall a good song, while the live version of "Leather Rebel" is okay at best.

But the best song on the album is the brutal driving force known as All Guns Blazing, which should be sought after by any sub-par metal band on how to be brutal and aggressive yet remain talented. If that solo by Glenn does not wipe the floor with creativity then nothing will, mind-blowing or amazing are understatements. It's astonishing that the band could give us everything they were aiming for with this album in this four minute span, simply the best.

So in conclusion I would say spend time with other releases because this, while is still a good album, is bested by at least a handful of other albums by the band.