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One of the most often derided Judas Priest albums, Point of Entry marks the precise moment when the band stopped sounding like themselves and became mostly indistinguishable from the brunt of 80’s hard rock acts like Krokus, Helix, and Foreigner. Though the shift to the hard rock sound began as early as Killing Machine, this album was the full realization of that movement. The result: a poorly written and uncharacteristically unoriginal Priest album that while catchy enough that it isn’t rendered unlistenable, still sticks out like a sore thumb in what would otherwise be a strong era in the band’s history.
For an album that was designed to be commercially appealing, it has an ironic lack of hit singles when compared to the band’s other 80’s albums. The only real hit is album opener “Heading Out to the Highway.” Rightly so, as despite the song’s simplicity, it’s catchy enough to stand up to past classics like “Living After Midnight.” Unfortunately, this simplicity, while charming here, will soon become overly apparent in the succeeding tracks. All the songs have very simple structures. All the songs have simple riffs and solos. Worst of all, the songs all have terribly simple drumming. Dave Holland, acquired for the British Steel album, proves himself to be one of the worst things to ever happen to this band. While his plain, fill-fearing style was tolerable on that album, his lack of talent becomes painfully apparent on subsequent albums, Point of Entry included. The effect is a bit diminished for this album, but only because nobody else is performing up to standard either. Glen Tipton and KK Downing write the bare minimum in riffage with not a memorable solo between them; playing generic hard rock leads that Angus Young could oust even on a bad day. Ian Hill plods along unremarkably, as usual. Even Halford fails to utilize his high register or his ability to write convincing, memorable melodies.
But even with the mediocre presentation, a few gems still shine through the rough. “Heading Out to the Highway” is obviously one of them, while the upbeat, catchy “Hot Rockin” is less so. As previous reviewers have stated, “Solar Angels” is one of the album’s highlights, being the heaviest and featuring one of Halford’s better vocal performances. “Desert Plains” is also indicative of the band’s past glory, carrying a bluesier atmosphere than most of the tracks on here. The rest, other than the blatantly straightforward yet subtly groovy “Don’t Go,” is textbook definition meh. Hair metal Judas Priest style, without the metal or the style.
Like most of the mediocre albums I review, I can still jam out to this without shame. But it’s not an album that I would ardently recommend, especially to fans of the heavier, better Priest albums. Hey, at least it’s better than the Owens years…