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These Guys Would Get a Lot Better - 71%

DawnoftheShred, May 28th, 2007

Not unlike many of their 70's contemporaries' first releases, Judas Priest's debut is a raw unpolished classic heavy metal album, a mere proto-incarnation of their true sound. Looking at it that way, as a traditional metal album, it actually comes off quite nicer than if you view it as a Judas Priest album, since it bears only a passing resemblence to the Priest that most are familiar with. Be sure to give this more than just a listen or two, it really has to grow on you.

The first impression I got of this early Judas Priest is that they really wanted to be like Black Sabbath. It's as if Glen Tipton and K.K. Downing had just heard Volume 4 and wished to emulate it as best they could. Naturally they add their own swagger to things, but the sound is mighty Sabbathian. Listen to the guitar tone when they're really crushing out chords in "Winter" or "Never Satisfied." Same goes for the way the solos interplay with one another, highly reminiscent of the way Tony Iommi would layer his solos. There's also a lot of mellow territory on here, with lots of atmospheric clean lines calling to mind Pink Floyd and early Rush epics. There's a hint of psychedelic rock mixed in as well, another reason for this album's unique sound. This is Judas Priest to sit around and mellow out to, rather than headbang and rock out to.

The band's main distinguishable factor is Halford (as would be the case later in their existence as well). He sounds a bit different than usual (the first half of "Dying to Meet You" especially), but youth is on his side here and allows for some fantastic melodies and a few well-placed wails. Check out "One for the Road" and the end of "Run of the Mill" for example.

As I said, this album took a bit to grow on me and is good, but it cannot be recommended to all, simply because of how primordial it is. The production is old-school, the band's talent is in its infancy, and it might just be too slow for the average Priest fan to cope with. Keep in mind that this is as 70's as they come and you may just find some value in it.