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The material on this album was written at the same time as "Turbo", and was even supposed to be released with that album as a double album. You can hear alot of differences, although there's still some songs that could've easily been put on "Turbo" instead. But, this album hinted at a faster, more thrash-like style which was a prelude to the next album, "Painkiller". The title track is another faster-paced gem, although the bridge before the lead breaks is a little lame (the "Shout It Out..." part), luckily you forget it ever happened with the frantic alternating leads that follow. After this are 3 standard songs, the latter 2 ("Love Zone" and "Come And Get It") should've been released on "Turbo", as they hint at the glam-metal style again. Then the first side closes with another fast and heavy track called "Hard As Iron" (a straight-forward thrash song)...
Side 2 opens with one the best JP songs ever, namely "Blood Red Skies". After an odd intro comes in with a very dark/depressive acoustic guitar riff with Rob Halford's gentle vocals, which gets progressively higher/louder until the intro ends. Then the song shifts to a stomping metal song, with Halford's wicked delivery during the verses (which are mostly only drums and vocals). The bridge then segues into the single best riff on the entire cd right before the lead break, which gives way to another pre-chorus and chorus. The song closes with some harrowing vocal delivery over some great guitar licks. But other than the following track "I'm A Rocker" (another "anthem" styled song), the rest of the album is average stuff, including a cover of "Johnny B. Goode" (a song originally made for a movie that ended up flopping, maybe they should've let "Reckless" be the "Top Gun" theme after all?!?). The closing song "Monsters Of Rock" is doom metal, super-slow and sludgy with perhaps the lowest-pitched vocals Halford ever did with the band. It's still not a very memorable song, though...
Overall, this album can also be passed on as well (unless you're a die-hard), though I'd say that "Blood Red Skies" alone makes it worth getting...
(Originally appeared on LARM, © 2002)