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Even though Judas Priest are considered a heavy metal band, the songs on this album are played with such intensity that I dare wonder whether it wouldn’t be more fitting to label this album thrash metal. Why? Well, for starters I listen to it alongside early Slayer. ‘Painkiller’ is probably the best Priest work and it definitely deserves the recognition it has had for over two decades now.
The album is formed by 10 tracks that are each and every one all-time classics. Ask anyone who’s been into metal for awhile about any of these songs and they will surely tell you that the raw power present in this record is an unstoppably full throttle, full force hammer ripping through your ears, pummeling your brain and leaving you begging for more.
The secret behind this album’s success is the excellent performance of all five members of the band. Truth be said, these guys had already been very good on previous works, but the very special ingredient that catalyzed ‘Painkiller’ was the inclusion of drummer Scott Travis, a true genius behind the kit. From the very beginning of the opening track we can acknowledge the crushing power of his drumming, completely sweeping away every resistance before guitarists Rowling and Tipton, perfectly secured by bassist Hill, and introduce the devastating riff that sets the mood for the whole album: incredibly powerful, twisty, and heavy as hell. The stage is set for Halford to deliver his heavy duty vocals, comparable in intensity only to Bruce Dickinson’s, but far more evil than the Iron Maiden man.
The whole album is highly intense. The guitar duo present crushing riff after crushing riff as well as some uniquely thick and intricate solos that nobody else can match with such quality. The drums are simply unbelievable; Travis must have reached the end of the recording sessions completely sore judging by the way he uses and abuses his double bass pedals, conferring an over the top intensity that is amazing.
The lyrics are amongst the coolest you can find anywhere, from vicious hell patrols that will get you anyway to horrific monsters with wings, heroes with steel wheels, explosive fire power guns, and heart-inflaming desire for love and lust, you have all that a true metal heart may look for. Evil is everywhere and the Judas Priest members are still black leather bad boys.
No track stands out here because every single one is an absolute classic. The whole album is a relentless heavy metal attack that makes your heart race wildly, your head bang like hell, and your brain completely surrender to the pace of the music.
The production is killer as you can hear everything perfectly and yet the overall sound is quite brutal and as heavy as heavy metal can be. In fact, it is such a powerful album that listening to it alongside thrash metal acts will actually make sense.
If you like raw, powerful music wrapped in furious whirlwinds of state of the art twin guitar perfection, crushing drumming, enveloping bass, and very high-pitched vocals that reach incredibly high notes and sound extremely powerful, yet hypnotically melodic, grab this timeless classic. A true masterpiece.