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Judas Priest had their rock music discography (1974-1981) when they played classic/hard rock, then they turned into heavy metal music (1982-1984) when they played classic heavy metal. Then comes pop music break with Turbo, and again they go back with heavy metal (1988-onward) where they did classic heavy metal releases, power metal release (this one) and symphonic metal (Nostradamus). Too many genres and sub-genres. This studio album deserves respect, but not too much, 'cause things are not always how we imagine. This was one of the most influential albums which had special impact on power metal bands. In fact, this is Judas Priest's power metal release. However, it's one of the most overrated albums ever. I mean, not excellent one, and definitely far from being perfect. This studio album is very good, but I can name tens of other albums where you can find every song which is excellent. It's not the case here. This is the only interesting and the most creative Judas Priest album, where you can find more excellent songs than in 2-3 albums together from the rest of their discography.
I give a limited respect to this release because it is so well-known, but the facts about its sound and idea are not well-known. This is known as one of the wonders of heavy metal music, one of the most original, unique studio albums and shit like that. But really, is it so? The answer is simple - no. This album is a pure rip-off, its sound, the whole image and idea. Distortion is improved, and doesn't sound like the stuff they did before. It sounds like Sanctuary's Refuge Denied. Sanctuary is underground band, but their studio album was known back then, and was accepted well. I bet they got it in their hands, and decided to sound like Sanctuary. Maybe I'm wrong, but no-one can deny the identical sound. Another reason why this release is not unique, because they stole the whole idea from Riot's Thundersteel. Just like Thundersteel, Painkiller is some kind of powerful fictive messiah who comes from the sky, rides horse of steel/metal monster, and slaughters evil, etc. Not just that they stole lyrical image, but both songs have fast drum work in the beginning with sharp riffs, although Painkiller's drum intro is more creative, high-pitched screams, fast tempo, technically demanding solos etc. Basically everything, just this studio album has better production.
So, whole work from album Painkiller, was inspired by work on Thundersteel. Thunder-steel, Pain-killer. Hm, kinda has the same feel. I did not come just to compare these three albums (Thundersteel, Refuge Denied and Painkiller), so I'll stick to the Painkiller now. I'm not hate-boy who came to piss on Judas Priest's work. I just state the facts. From these excellent songs which this studio album has to offer, Painkiller is the absolute highlight. A furious and powerful opener, which will catch every listener's attention after the very first listen. High-pitched singing parts and screams, blazing riffs, killer drum work, fast tempo, very good technical guitar solo, everything is perfectly packed. It really made impact on Kai Hansen who used this song as inspiration for some songs in Gamma Ray, and specially Ralf Scheepers, who made his entire discography with Primal Fear, influenced with this song. But both Kai and Ralf are god-like singers, and Rob can't match with them. Face it fanboys, Rob sucks live. He was never capable of singing this song live, and he rarely pulls some higher notes from other songs where he screamed. When he attempts to sing this song, he sounds like a baby crying, even worse.
Metal Meltdown is another excellent song done with the same pattern. The only difference is that Metal Meltdown has insane guitar solo in the beginning, and the rest, well... again lyrics without deeper meaning, blazing riffs, fast tempo, high-pitched screams and again very good technical guitar solo. Between The Hammer And Anvil is rare song which has lyrics with deeper meaning. If I'm right, it's probably about Judas Priest, when they were accused for having hidden messages in their songs, when two fans of theirs committed suicide. It is slower song comparing to these two above, but still it has faster tempo, heavy riffs, enjoyable rhythm, tempo etc. One Shot At Glory is another heavy riff-driven song, with Rob's higher register, Manowar inspired lyrics. I can feel Manowar influence in this whole release, specially influence from the aggressive, furious, and powerful song Black Wind, Fire And Steel. A Touch Of Evil is much different song than the ones I mentioned above. Mainly because it is powerful ballad-like slow, lustful song ('cause of lyrics of course, yeah, second song with meaningful lyrics).
The rest of the album is not impressive at all. Leather Rebel's intro sounds like Helloween's Victim Of Fate, which is another rip-off part of this album. It has mediocre lyrics, great riffs and drum rhythms, fast tempo, but fast doesn't mean excellent. Hell Patrol is mid tempo song which has enjoyable drum and guitar rhythms, nice singing parts, but guitar solo is not special at all, lyrics are crap and Rob's screams are annoying here. All Guns Blazing has annoying opener screams. It has similar guitar solo to Painkiller, tempo which is the same like in Painkiller and Metal Meltdown, in fact, it was done with the same pattern like Painkiller and Metal Meltdown, but not as half as good as these two songs. Mostly because of shit lyrics again, and making so many similar songs in one album is not impressive at all. Night Crawler has some catchy rhythms, but that's all.
Good sides of this release:
Some excellent furious, aggressive, melodic songs with blazing riffs, fast tempo, great high-pitched screams, also great slower songs.
Bad sides of this release:
Fairly overrated, mostly crap lyrics, some boring songs, and songs with less creative effort, whole thing is a big Riot's Thundersteel and Sanctuary's Refuge Denied rip-off. It's not the most unique, original or whatever studio album. However, it had influence on other bands.
Painkiller, Metal Meltdown, Between The Hammer And Anvil, A Touch Of Evil and One Shot At Glory.