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Interesting debut... - 72%

Ayeka, July 11th, 2003

Well, this is something of a strange album. Usually, with great Metal bands, they spend the early parts of their careers making kickass hardrocking songs before mellowing out into a "dad" band. With Judas Priest the complete opposite seems to have happened. The overall feel of this album is reminiscent of a group of 40-somethings in a pub playing songs reflecting
their old age whilst still trying to recapture some of the flame of their youth.
Having said that, this is actually a pretty damn good album. The A-side represents the rockier side of it, with the pub-rock One For The Road (coolest intro on the album? Sure!) and upbeat title track being followed by a bizarre four-song seque. The winter theme through three of these is best encapsulated by Deep Freeze, K.K. Downing's effects-driven solo conjuring frozen imagery and supported by the lonesome-sounding songs before and after. Ok, it's hardly Varg Vikernes taking us through lonely Norwegian forests, but it's effective and makes a good listen. They are all rounding off with Cheater, another pub-rocker with nothing to do whatsoever with the three songs before it! It has a fairly catchy melody and a nice dash of harmonica in
the chorus - this is how far removed this album is from the rest of Priest's catalogue!
Side B is the more mellow and reflective side of the album. THough this is only encapsulated by two songs - Run Of The Mill and Dying To Meet You - these songs take up 15 minutes between them, so there's no avoiding their overall mood. At this point it's worth pointing out some familiarities in the songs. Run Of The Mill is very reminiscent of Pink Floyd in my opinion, and
there are shades of Black Sabbath over the album - Bob Halford sounding just like Ozzy Osbourne in One For The Road, the riff from Winter stolen straight from Iron Man, and a riff in Caviar And Meths (a very catchy album closer) sounding much like one from Supernaut.
Overall, this is a worthy addition into any Priest collection as it's a very unique aspect of them. The formula for the songs here was taken and turned fom Rock to Metal on the next album, and the spirit of Run Of The Mill was revived for Last Rose Of Summer on Sin After Sin - but this is the only place where you find these ideas working over an entire album.