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I don't believe that an album of this magnitude will ever be achieved by this band ever again. To be perfectly honest with you, this was also the first time in their career that they'd managed to achieve such a level of greatness as well. Here is basically how things occurred;
Priest, is generally viewed as the forefathers of heavy metal, alongside Sabbath and to a lesser degree Deep Purple and the Scorpions. If you listen to many of the aspiring metal acts from the eighties, including the Bay Area thrash bands from this time, you will hear a lot of striking similarities with Priests' earlier efforts. More notably albums such as Sad Wings of Destiny, or even Screaming for Vengeance. But as the 1980's came to an end, Priest slowly changed their sound to a more "friendly" sounding collage of songs. Hence giving birth to albums such as Turbo and Ram It Down.
At this same time however, many of the bands who began their careers, citing Priest as a major influence continued to get progressively more technical and heavier. This included bands such as Forbidden, Metallica, Pantera, and Overkill. It wasn't until 1990 that Priest was able to release an album which was a fusion of past formulas, mixed with some of the current and explosive elements of thrash metal into what many still consider to be their pinnacle achievement...Painkiller.
Everything about this album, from the lengthy compositions, to their technicality, the anger of Halford's delivery in the vocal department, or the addition of new double bass monster Scott Travis, Painkiller was a tour de force for this band, and I believe that this album was worthy of re-establishing Priest as one of the genre's leading artists.
The most predominanty technical aspect of this album is without a doubt the guitar solos of Glen Tipton and KK Downing. Where the fuck did these solos come from? Are these the same guys who do the lead on Living After Midnight? Yes, by point of fact it is! And although many revere the solo in Painkiller (the title track), to be the greatest solo on this album, I actually can't pinpoint the best one, since every song with the exception of Nightcrawler has a face melting guitar solo.
The production on this album by Chris Tsangarides is phenomenal for its time. I did recently purchase the remastered version of this album, but don't really notice that big of a difference in the sound quality from the original, it was pretty much done to perfection the first time around.
Each song gets 10 out of 10 for being true metal greatness. Lyrical content is diverse and intelligent, with the mandatory cliched heavy metal hero context from time to time (see Leather Rebel or Metal Meltdown). Even though I am a self proclaimed Priest fanatic, this is the only album from their lengthy catalogue that I never neglect for more than a month before throwing it on for about a week at a time. A classic in a league of its own!