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I've mentioned in another review that I preferred "British Steel" over "Screaming for Vengeance", and there are reasons for this. It's not that "Screaming for Vengeance" is a terrible album (come on, I did give it more than 80% after all!), it's just that it doesn't have as much of Priest's aggression as the other albums have to offer. It's mostly commercial-sounding, but we do get some of that grinding and pounding sound that we crave, and the songs that contain them are classics that remain in our memories and will do so in the decades to come.
Possibly what made this album a classic among metal fans are the songs that are actually awesome. The whole album begins with a very effective harmonic riff that makes up "The Hellion", which goes into the equally powerful "Electric Eye". The latter is a fast and driving song that, with the improved production quality, set new standards for Judas Priest. Just as some of their songs got more and more radio-friendly, others got more and more aggressive. Sure, there were songs with faster tempos released even before "Screaming for Vengeance" ("Exciter" being one of my favorites), but the production quality of this album makes this song, along with the fast-paced title track, seem more aggressive and heavier than before. I guess being with a big record label like CBS was sort of a double-edged sword for the band, as they did seem to create some good stuff like "Electric Eye", but at the same time, they also released songs like "(Take These) Chains" (more on that later).
Some of the radio-friendly songs are more tolerable than others. For example, we've got the famous "You've Got Another Thing Comin'". It is at a more commercial pace, but it still has all the swagger that it needs to be a good song. More little-known songs, like "Bloodstone" and "Devil's Child" are sort of the same way, but the latter seems to have a more glam-like style. This might be foreshadowing the days of the dreaded "Turbo" album, the band's equivalent of Celtic Frost's "Cold Lake". Even with that said, it's not as bad as it could be. It's still kinda out of character for the band to release it, but what's even more out of character is "Pain and Pleasure". It's a slow, hard rock song that would be lousy enough to compete with "Don't Go" from "Point of Entry". The song I have the most complaints about, though, is "(Take These) Chains", a song written not by the band, but by a guy named Bob Halligan Jr. He was responsible for some songs by KISS, Kix, and, get this, Cher. Yeah, that Cher. No, not "chair", Cher. If you listened to the song, the evidence couldn't be any more glaring. It's got some insanely stupid melodies, especially in the chorus, so the heavy guitars and vocal performance of Rob Halford don't excuse the song from being ostracized by fans (including myself). In fact, Halford's vocals just don't seem to fit with that kind of melody. If you want someone who's more capable of pulling it off, I would suggest Paul Stanley instead. Rob Halford is too gruff and aggressive for those kinds of melodies. Sorry Mr. Halligan!
However, "(Take These) Chains" is just one song on the album, so it's not like the whole album has that insipid sound found there. If you want an excellent song that still has a bit of radio-friendliness (what very few of you there are), let's just ignore "(Take These) Chains" and go for "Riding on the Wind". Man, is that a powerful song! It's got a hard, rocking riff, but it's also set at a fast, driving tempo, like the more metal-influenced "Electric Eye". It's also where Halford's soaring and screeching vocals shine brightest. I can't really think of any song that consists entirely of Rob screaming his lungs out for every lyric of the song that had been released earlier. It puts a lot more power into the song, and that's one reason why it's one of my favorites on "Screaming for Vengeance". It's also the reason why I didn't give the album a rating lower than 80%. While the more commercial songs do take some points off, it's songs like "Riding on the Wind" that keep the album in the air.
Those songs, however, aren't enough for me to get "Screaming for Vengeance" a higher rating. The radio-friendliness is more prevalent here, and it's hard to ignore the sheer cheesiness of those songs. Nonetheless, some people still seem to enjoy it. I do, but not as much as other Priest albums. In my personal opinion, it's not as good as it could be. If it cut back on the radio-friendliness, it would've been on the same level as a much better, but often overlooked album released later, "Defenders of the Faith". I do have to admit, though, I love the album cover art!
1982 was the year of the culmination of the NWOBHM and European heavy metal in general, with stunning records like Scorpions’s Blackout, Accept’s Restless And Wild and of course the British gems, Iron Maiden’s The Number Of The Beast and Judas Priest’s Screaming For Vengeance. In the case of Halford & co., they definitely achieved success and popularity in their home country, so as the 80’s arrived it was time to court and conquer the American market, along with their compatriots from Rainbow and Def Leppard. Their sound didn’t evolve particularly since they changed their direction in 1980 with the musically controversial British Steel – even though Point Of Entry seemed intended to be a back-to-basics attempt, Priest’s sound would remain straight-forward and far from technical during the whole decade. Gone is the 70’s progression and complication completely on this 8th studio record as well, which was another crushing success for these guys.
“Electric Eye” inherits the vigor and vitality of “Rapid Fire”, offering a similar composition without difficulty or ambition, yet more sophisticated and melodic. Title-track with a heavier edge and faster tempo reveals too clearly Judas Priest’s determination to refine their sound, make it classy. Riffs are still heavy and powerful, including however cleaner arrangements and textures, putting attention on harmonies and tones of higher frequency this time. Songs stay as accessible and commercial as previous efforts, vocals and choruses are emphasized and technique is simplistic, so they keep most of their formulas untouched here. “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” confirms it, a composition evidently intended to make you sing along, compatible with radio stations standards – very minimalist on its configuration but featuring that punch and strength, heaviness which isn’t affected negatively by the supremacy of vocals and tenderness. “Bloodstone” and “Devil’s Child” provide harder rock of classic, bluesy reminiscence, whose spine are those effective main riffs that suffer few alterations during the songs – the second one exposes certain AC/DC influence on the nature of lines and the trademark backing choir, no surprise as both groups used to share stage often in the early-80’s. Melody reappears, taking bigger control on pseudo-ballads like “Fever” and “(Take These) Chains”, which start soft and slow, progressing into heavier intensity and aggression without pushing away sophistication completely. Rob offers one of his most emotive performances actually, revealing his sensitive side, accompanied by Tipton & Downing’s also lyrical lines of mellow texture. In contrast, “Pain And Pleasure” has a distinct feel, a hornier cut defined by that weighty easy rhythm, those solid crushing riffs still sophisticatedly designed and Halford’s eloquent words.
Certainly, this sounds commercial, simplistic – nothing new as Priest already embraced that more accessible musical pattern on the previous 2 records. The main difference on Screaming For Vengeance is the bigger emphasis they put on melody. You just have to listen to the texture of riffs, the numerous harmonies and delicate arrangements, which combined with simplicity and persistent choruses make the songs ideal for the radio and the masses. Although these guys manage to maintain that rare, reasonable balance between sweetness and aggression, as Scorpions by that time, coming up with melodic stuff that still had enough energy, pulse and fire to please the new generation of British metalheads who were insatiable for heavy music. This record is musically stronger and better arranged than preceding works, immaculately played and produced, including quieter rhythms, eluding the continuity of up-tempos and certain scruffiness of its predecessors – sophisticate and meticulous, though not complex or progressive at all. Judas Priest were aware of the need to keep their music simple and accessible to satisfy American audiences, which back then didn’t show really great interest for the NWOBHM, preferring the amusing bluesy, melodic rock of Van Halen, Aerosmith, Kiss and Ted Nugent instead – groups whose philosophy didn’t have much in common with 80’s British metal ways. Fortunately, the band didn’t have to sell out absolutely to achieve success in the US, there are some heavy tracks on this album still – the title-number specially demonstrates Halford & the boys haven’t gone soft totally, simply refined their sound without depriving it of this mighty guitar combo characteristic dynamism and ferocity. They admirably managed to keep certain level of intensity of roughness, despite increasing the presence of melody.
This album was another big success for Priest in the 80’s, after the relative failure of Point Of Entry. They eventually conquered the US market, succeeded by their pals from Maiden and Leppard shortly afterwards – representing the culmination of heavy metal before its imminent downfall. All the glam, make-up cheesy rock fashion came later, fortunately the consolidation of extreme subgenres as well and the tragic demise of the NWOBHM, circumstances only Halford & co. and Harris & his team could face and survive to, due essentially to their status of super rock stars, massive success and of course, their determination to not betray their roots too much (Oh ,Turbo…). Screaming For Vengeance contributed enormously to confirm that status of heavy metal legends worldwide, even though it’s still deprived of the magic and epic of the 70’s stuff.
This is Priest's best selling and charting album. Apparently when it came out, they even used the Hellion to sell cars. I don't view this as Priest's best, or even contending, but it is the best they did during the 80's. It's got some very good stuff going on, Halford brought back his high notes, the music is very fun, and very little of this run time is bad.
Considering the last three albums, it seemed Halford was phasing out his higher register. The trend is reversed here, and he's using every area of his range. The result is quite nice, and these are some of Halford's best songs. His mid-range, with a slight mechanical tone, on Electric Eye is fantastic. His vocals on Screaming For Vengeance are as close to his Painkiller vocals as he had gotten thus far. The guitar playing is quite good. The duo do as well as would be expected in the riff department. The majority of this album is very nice, even by Priest's high standards of riffing. The solos are almost as good. They didn't yet have quite the level of response that they would have on the succeeding album, but this is close. They had learned a few of the new tricks, and while they weren't to Painkiller technically, they were definitely up from British Steel.
Probably the biggest selling point, commercially and metal-wise, for this album is the tightrope that it walks. This managed to take most of their metal traits and package it with a fun, hard-rock vibe. This definitely is fun music, with more atmospheric commonality to AC/DC than Bathory. It's hard to pin-point how they manage this, but I'm thinking that it has to do the brevity of the tracks and the lightness of the lyrics. None of these tracks are epic length which was good for the rock-metal fans that didn't want much complexity to their music. The lyrics themselves are fairly catchy and seldom attempt serious subject matter. The exception is Electric Eye, which was probably the last set of good lyrics that they ever wrote. Now for metal fans who aren't as interested in the rock-metal variety, there is something to be said for variety. There isn't a ton of metal that pulls off "fun" without being dumb. Many even feel that Anthrax failed, which goes to show how hard it is. Almost no one ever really criticizes this for it's fun, as it does this better than pretty much any other attempt at "fun" metal that I've heard. Priest also achieved this on a few other albums, but this is the strongest example.
The rhythm section is as weak as ever during this time. Ian doesn't have any real moment to shine, and he isn't very audible either. The drumming is probably worse. With Priest speeding up the music, it is clear how much Holland isn't cut out for this. Part of me wonders if the band understood what getting rid of Binks would mean to future compositions. In any case, this is one of the main failures of this era of Priest in general, is their weak rhythm. Supposedly, Priest even had to either keep the pace and complexity down or get a machine in order to make things doable for Holland. I don't know if this is true, but the music hardly debunks this theory. The other weak spot to this album is the middle. Take These Chains and Pain and Pleasure are examples of 80's commercial songwriting that has aged horribly. I've no idea why the band thought these were good ideas, but they are there nonetheless and do nothing but blow a hole in the middle of the album. This does have one of the few bonus tracks from the remasters that are worth hearing. Prisoner of Your Eyes isn't Dreamer Deceiver, but it's a big step-up from their norm. Between some legitimately tense playing and atmosphere, this is one of their best 3-4 ballads
This is the best Priest did between Stained Class and Painkiller. I have it as a fraction greater than Hell Bent For Leather owing to it's more consistent track-list. The margin is small, but I only have two points between them. I view the year of this release functions as a changing of the guard. Essentially, this is the last year where all the best albums were of the early metal variety. Metal was about to splinter into many directions, and would stay that way. As to who would enjoy this, the power and thrash that split off are the main ones, along with the previous early metal and hard-rock fans.
When it comes to a discussion on heavy metal, you cannot ever forget Judas Priest or their seminal album Screaming For Vengeance. No other album has been more influential in the development of metal, and after Screaming, heavy metal was never the same again. While Priest took a little detour into bar-based hard rock in the early 80's, they came back here with, well, a vengeance. It's hard to believe that this came right after Point of Entry; while PoE was subdued and generally relaxed, Screaming delivers riff after headbanging riff with little let or hindrance. In fact, I would say that SFV had a singular role in the development of traditional metal (think power metal, speed metal, heavy metal, etc...) unlike anything seen before or since. This IS that wrecking ball album, an album that changed the way people go about making metal.
And it couldn't have come at a better time. The way I see it, Priest had been in a bit of a creative slump, with the last two or three albums being more commercial pandering than straight up heavy metal. As well, Iron Maiden was starting to steal all of Priest's thunder, with a succession of speedy and melodically-played albums that threatened to knock the metal heavyweight off of its iron throne. Well, luckily enough, Judas Priest came out swinging with this pugilistic tour de force. And as much as I love Iron Maiden, this is knocks the ball out the park. Seriously, though, if you haven't heard this, play it from track one. From the first resounding chord of the intro, the metal-ness comes out in a way Priest wouldn't get near until Painkiller 7 years later. If you have listened to this album, then all I have to do is start humming the first line of "The Hellion" and you should be able to hum the entire rest of the album without break. This is literally that classic of an album.
So what should you expect from Screaming? Well, if that name didn't tell you, or the metal eagle swooping down for the kill on the cover didn't either, you should expect balls-out metal. Expect ridiculous guitar solos, expect driving and headbang-able riffs, expect soaring falsettos from Rob Halford, and expect enough heavy metal to give you lead or mercury poisoning. I could give a track by track review, but that would get repetitive, since each song is brimming with metal. If I had to pick the best songs here, though, it would be The Hellion/Electric Eye, Riding on the Wind, and Screaming for Vengeance. Each song, though, demonstrates a band at their prime. All cylinders are firing at optimum, and even the ultra-simplistic You Got Another Thing Comin' manages to get repeated listens.
I don't know any other way of putting it. Everything I look for in Priest I find in Screaming For Vengeance. So, I guess you could say this is the quintessential Judas Priest album. If you need a place to start in Judas Priest's truly massive catalog, let Screaming For Vengeance be that starting point. Even after listening to the rest of their large discography, I still find myself returning to Screaming For Vengeance. So stop reading this review, get this album, and see what I'm raving about.
Screaming for Vengeance represented a return to the level of ambition that Judas Priest had seemingly sidetracked for the previous albums British Steel and Point of Entry, but at the same time it also retains those records' flair for production and accessibility. Featuring the first of Doug Johnson's iconic cover trilogy (the stylish, metallic raptor who many bands like Primal Fear would later tweak and adopt as their mascot), this was a smashing success largely due to its major single "You've Got Another Thing Comin'", which experienced so much penetration into Western culture that you'd be hard pressed to find someone who didn't know it that wasn't deaf. But Screaming was and remains quite pleasing in its entirety, the best of Priest's recordings in the 80s, and while it's a few inches shy of perfection, even the worst songs in the roster are a match for nearly anything on Point of Entry.
One of the things that first struck me about the album is its lyrical awareness and even forward thinking nature, which the band had sort of dropped out of with a lot of songs on the few albums leading up to it. Not to say that the lyrics are as complex as some of the 70s material, or that every song here is necessarily deep in intent, but I rather appreciated the relevance of "Electric Eye" and its observations on...well, modern observation. Or corruption ("Bloodstone"). Granted, there are a number of sassy sex songs here like "Fever", "Devil's Child" and so forth, and your typical 'hit the road' feel goodness ("Riding on the Wind") and 'don't fuck with me' anthem ("You've Got Another Thing Comin'"), yet even these seem well handled. Unlike Point of Entry, Screaming for Vengeance seems far more structured and plotted out rather than just spontaneously created in some exotic studio locale to fit a particular theme. But it doesn't hurt that so many of the individual songs are bastions of strong writing and hooks that likely won't escape your memory...ever.
It also doesn't hurt that "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" is either tied with or surpassing "Breaking the Law" as the band's singular, most recognizable song. And at twice the length! The simple chugging in the verses is flush with Halford's diatribe of revenge and rebellion, and the (predictable) chorus is simply a timeless miracle that will probably sound as fresh and poignant in 2082 as it did in 1982. The lead, while not the best in their canon, also seemed a step up from most on the previous two albums, all tying in with the notion that Priest had once again attained some forward momentum here. Remarkably, the rest of the songs on the album are not nearly so popular. The dire melodies that instigate the brief intro "The Helion" are pervasive, and "Electric Eye" has some of the most unforgettable guitars in it since "Breaking the Law" and an ace chorus, but even this was not the hugest hit when the album first arrived. Other notables include "Bloodstone" with its airy screaming in both the verses and chorus, and a pretty sweet intro-lick reminiscent of something Eddie Van Halen might have pulled on one of his group's earlier records. Or "Riding on the Wind" with Dave Holland's opening battery and some cutting highway hard rock that makes it feel like a Point of Entry outtake (only a lot catchier thanks to that harpy chorus).
Priest also shows a softer side at points, but not for very long. Cleaner guitar tones introduce "(Take These) Chains" and "Fever", but it's not long before the chords erupt. Both highly underrated songs, but then, so is everything on this album that isn't named "You've Got Another Thing Comin'". The only tune I'm not a huge fanatic for is "Pain and Pleasure", which implements more or less a swaggering bluesy groove riff in the Zeppelin vein, yet even here the chorus is admittedly pretty good. In total, there is no imbalance to Screaming for Vengeance as there was with its predecessors. I never felt that I was experiencing a glut of creativity or phoned in filler; all the songs are very unified due to the production and pacing, but distinct from one another.
It helps that Rob is really on fire throughout the 39 minutes of the album, relying heavily on the screamed lines that he'd reined in for a few of the recent albums. I don't know about you, but while I appreciate the guy's adventurous nature and willingness to experiment and broaden his range to include its depths, I like it best when he's screeching over the iron-clad mesh of the guitars like acid raining from the sky, and we get plenty of that here. The guitar tone is boxy and effective, the leads spurious but entertaining, certainly some of the most acrobatic they'd yet delivered but still mindful of a good dual melody (as in the title track). The bass once again doesn't do much but follow the guitar, yet you can hear a few of his fills, and this was also the most muscular execution yet from Dave Holland, the powerful pounding undercurrent that the band would further exemplify as they blasted into the late 80s with Ram It Down, and of course the inevitable Painkiller.
Another element that I so love about Screaming for Vengeance is that, while it's immortal in quality, the album is very easily dated to the 80s and influential on so many greats to follow from Europe and the states. The zephyr-like reverb on the instruments, the huge if simple guitar hooks built to fill an arena, this was all a blueprint for hundreds of speed, power and even hard rock acts through the decade, and I really loved this sense of grand production, something we seem to miss in this modern age of excess tracking and digitized over-polish. Not that Screaming for Vengeance isn't 'clean' or mainstream enough sounding to satisfy even the most ardent pop audience, but there's just this sense of glory through the album that I don't get out of Rhapsody or Dragonforce, despite all their advancements in speed and technicality. This is not the best of Priest, but it's very far up the scale, hot enough to burst the mercury from its thermometer.
Priest decided to go back to a more traditional heavy metal sound after the poorly-received, lame, rock-influenced "Point Of Entry". A few months in the studio produced "Screaming For Vengeance", the band's highest-selling album, as well as the creation of one of their most massive world tours. But is "Screaming" all it's cracked up to be? No, definitely not, but it's certainly not terrible either.
The 80's team is here and accounted for, serving under a particularly big and metallic Tom Allom production. Rob Halford does great vocal work here, letting loose his wide range of screams, wails, and some good and often melodic mid-range work. Ian Hill's bass is practically invisible here, but does shine when some songs get quieter. KK Downing and Glenn Tipton are the stars here, their trademark guitars dueling on full blaze, trading off catchy riffs and nasty licks. Dave Holland trudges along and keeps it steady with his drums, though to be fair, he does have some good, hard moments here and there like on "Electric Eye" or the title track.
The song set is like many other Priest albums; songs that are awesome, and songs that are okay, and some songs that suck. Numbers like "Riding On The Wind" wouldn't have been out of place on "Point Of Entry", though it's slight speed, metallic sound and catchy chorus save it from being too hard rockish. Closer "Devil's Child" is along a similar line; a catchy, simple chorus, but slightly more aggressive and that this song falls, sadly, more into the way of a filler. What of Priest's unfortunate greatest hit, "You've Got Another Thing Coming"? Well, I do like the heavy main riff, and the loud solo ain't bad, but the lyrics and buildup to the chorus kinda suck, and the lengthy fade-out gets on my nerves a bit. Totally overrated. But this album is worth your time for 3 1/2 songs. The instrumental "Hellion", rising like some great mechanical beast, bashes into "Electric Eye", an Orwellian sci-fi tale chronicling the invasion of privacy. Halford's voice is monotone, but in good way, sounding very robotic; Tipton leads a cool solo while Downing spits up some catchy throwaway riffs. "Fever", despite its corny lyrics, has a great sound and atmosphere; it's almost like nothing you've ever heard before. The gorgeous opening is almost hypnotic. Then there's the title track. Fucking A this bastard rules! It's so aggressive that it's probably the closest classic Priest ever did to thrash metal. There's a cool Downing-led solo, a memorable chorus and easily Halford's most vicious vocals on the album, not to mention some surprisingly decent drumming from Holland.
Overall, it's 3 1/2 great songs, 3 okay songs, and some filler. "Screaming For Vengeance" is a good start for Judas Priest newbies, and while it's not a bad album at all, it's not nearly as good as many make it out to be. Worthwhile for the 3 1/2 great tracks though.
By 1982, heavy metal’s spearheads Judas Priest were dangerously heading towards ‘sell-out’ road with British Steel and Point of Entry. It was clear to the band that they either had to keep up with the legions of NWOBHM bands that they had helped influence, or deliver another British Steel that would guarantee them even more commercial success. However, Halford and the boys seemed to have asked themselves, “fuck it, why can’t we just please everyone?”, and 1982’s 'Screaming For Vengeance' was the answer to that question, being the perfect storm between commercial success and classic heavy metal. The band’s well-received return to their heavy metal roots spurned even greater success and was arguably the pinnacle of their popularity.
If there’s anything Priest had a knack for, it’s creating albums filled with songs that each have their own charm and individuality, and this album is a testimony of that. From the AC/DC-tinged ‘Devil’s Child’ to the blistering title track, it is clear that each song is noticeably different from each other. There are still the ‘poppy’ hooks to attract casual listeners, but songs such as the classic ‘Electric Eye’ and ‘Riding On The Wind’ pack enough of a punch to satisfy the average heavy metal fan. Halford, as usual, remains in top form, transitioning effortlessly from his mid-register to his trademark screeching falsetto and never comes off as overbearing. Downing and Tipton continue to breathe life into the songs with crunching riffs and memorable guitar duels, and while the solos aren’t exceptionally great, they’re a welcome change from those present in the previous 2 albums. Ian Hill is well, Ian Hill, and Dave Holland puts up a more inspired performance which, while allowing the guitarists to do their thing, isn’t much to write home either. Rest assured, he still gets the job done.
The album gets off to a roaring start with ‘The Hellion’ reveling in all of its unabashed ‘epic-ness’, that transitions into ‘Electric Eye’, which, in my opinion, is the best Priest song from the '80s. You’d be hard pressed to find a major fault with this song as it thankfully doesn’t fall victim to the dreaded '80s cheese factor usually expected from the band. Riding On The Wind and the highly underrated ‘Bloodstone’ do an excellent job of keeping the listener engaged and are both catchy and generally fun tracks to listen to. Another great thing about this album is the track order, as one never seems to get burned out with the slower numbers ‘(Take These) Chains’ and 'Pain and Pleasure' to 'calm' the listener down before preparing them for the hellacious title track. Make no mistakes, this songs has BALLS, and big ones might I add. From the memorable opening scream, Priest launches a heavy metal attack on the listener’s eardrums with Halford spitting out lines in his powerful falsetto while Tipton and Downing deliver some great riffs and a swank guitar duel, topped off with a hair-raising wail Rob hits towards the end of the song. This would have been my pick for the album closer, simply because it kicks so much ass, but 'Devil's Child' works as a serviceable album closer. And screw the haters, because ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ rocks. Yeah, it’s simplistic, but it drives the message home and is infectiously catchy, serving as a far better anthem than ‘Take on the World’ (seriously, fuck that song). Sadly, there is the usual filler with the incredibly bland ‘Pain and Pleasure’ and the somewhat weak ballad ‘Fever’. These aren’t exactly bad songs, but fail to live up to the standard of the other tracks and detract from the album’s quality just a bit.
The best summary I’ve heard for this album is that "when it’s hot, it’s HOT. And when it’s not, it’s not", and that summary is absolutely correct. But that’s not to say that this album is bad, because it’s really not. There’s a little something for everyone, and it’s fair to say that ‘Screaming For Vengeance’ is one of Priest’s greatest accomplishments as they successfully created an album that stays true to metal, yet contains enough hooks to ensure commercial success and remains the epitome of '80s Judas Priest. Sadly, the band would never enjoy the same levels of popularity again, which eventually led to the teeny-bop crap they put out in 1986 and 1988, in a desperate attempt to reach the masses, but that’s for another review. Enjoy a landmark heavy metal album and one of Judas Priest’s most popular ones.
The Hellion/Electric Eye
Riding On The Wind
Screaming For Vengeance
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
The brief period of the early 80s, just before thrash metal began to rage out of New York and California, was an interesting one. For many bands hailing from Britain, Germany and The States it was a time of discovering a newer, faster, harder edged style that paved the way for heavy metal's faster and uglier cousin as exemplified in the early works of the Big 4 and a few others. But for the likes of Judas Priest, a band that had wandered into the early workings of speed metal a few years prior, it was a time of soul searching. In essence, they were trying to figure out whether they were going to take a step back to their rock roots or to fully embrace the ongoing heavy metal experiment that the NWOBHM was ushering in. 1981's "Point Of Entry" exemplified the former path, while the powerful beast that is "Screaming For Vengeance" takes something much closer to the latter path.
While I was not outwardly hostile to the catchy yet restrained character of "Point Of Entry", the heavily energized and aggressive tendencies of this album are more to my liking, and most of the metal faithful tend to agree. While the underlying riff set still retains a heavily bluesy character and the formula is still quite straightforward, the attitude is much less celebratory and much more hard edged. In fact, this album stands as the closest that Priest has ever gotten to sounding like a NWOBHM band, particularly that of the parallel early days of Dickinson era Iron Maiden. Whether it be the melodic contours of the riveting opening duo "The Hellion" and "Electric Eye", or the strong resemblance to the speedy and busy guitar and drum work of Maiden's "Invaders" with an even more pervasive air-raid siren in the towering title song.
Be all of this as it may, the earlier rock sensibilities and simplicity of the past couple of albums are still very strong, and actually better accomplished due to a crunchier guitar edge. The catchy arena favorites that walk the line between Accept and AC/DC in "You've Got Another Thing Coming" and "Bloodstone" definitely steel much of the attention, though the wickedly grooving "Devil's Child" holds its own, all of them featuring Halford's versatility both as a standard singer and screamer. But the real essence of what makes this an outstanding album is captured in the somewhat underrated "Riding On The Wind", which basically distills all of the strongest elements of "Heading Out To The Highway" and ups the ante in the tempo and vocal department. In typical yet not so typical fashion, the solos tantalize, the choruses entrance, and Ian Hill's bass work proves that AC/DC doesn't have a monopoly on making their bottom end do the bare minimum and still carrying some relevance to the arrangement.
The charms carried by each individual Judas Priest album are unique, and amongst the various masterpieces and lesser works of the 80s, this one has the edge in terms of the total package. It's a bit more versatile than "Defenders Of The Faith", a bit less happy-go-lucky than what came after, and is not quite as archaically produced as "British Steel". The beginnings of what ultimately becomes the Sci-Fi oriented tendencies of their 80s tenure take shape here with a few occasional studio gimmicks, but the real meat of this thing is still in the guitars and the vocals, though Dave Holland makes a decent racket on the kit as well. Song for song, it's a consistent ride from point A to point B with a fair share of twists and turns, all of them working well, even in the slower ballad department, which generally tend to be the band's weak spot and linkage to the glamish side of 80s rock. If nothing else, it proves that versatility is not a bad thing when approached with an eye for consistency.
Following Stained Class, the evolution of Judas Priest displayed a gradual decrease concerning the brand of heavy metal they helped create and a rise in pop rock sensibilities to the degree that after Point Of Entry the next logical step would be to release an album sounding something akin to Loverboy or Foreigner material. Thankfully, the band took a step back, saw the mellower direction they were heading, and brought back the metal to an almost jarring but not quite complete degree. Still, the lack of enthusiasm for their previous release by their fanbase and a lack of commercial success turned out to be a godsend.
From the first seconds of The Hellion, there was no doubt that this Judas Priest offering was a different beast than the hard rockin’ boogie of Point Of Entry with its explosive dual guitar heroics channeling the album’s cover art perfectly, a soaring iron eagle about to strike the listener. The bombast is aided by a production that brings the guitars clearly to the forefront where they belong, and the guitars themselves sound magnificent, sharp and gleaming but warm enough not to sound tinny whatsoever. Like two swords dripping fresh blood. It’s a rush.
With an intro like that, expectations would be set sky high, and Electric Eye does not disappoint by any means. In fact I’d say it’s one of their strongest tracks in general with its fast pace, killer riffs, Rob’s icy delivery and cool sci-fi lyrics. The drums and bass in this track, as well as the rest of the album, are serviceable in that they basically provide a base for the guitars to unleash their fireworks. An argument could be made that a more dynamic approach by the rhythm section could have electrified the songs to a higher level of intensity, but personally I can’t say it really bothered me in the least, since my focus would still be on Rob’s voice and the skillful guitar antics.
The reason why I stated earlier that the band hadn’t completely shed the straight up rock & roll skin that had gradually grown over their steel frame is that there are still a few songs in this release that seemed designed for mainstream rock radio airplay, in which You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ became a resounding success. But let’s face it, it’s a hell of a good hard rock tune with a punchy, ultra-catchy chorus and a mid-paced but driving pulse. Unfortunately other rockish numbers here don’t fare nearly as well, such as the pop-rockish (Take These) Chains and the sluggish Pain And Pleasure. They recall their last album’s style to the point where they seem odd nestled within an album containing a raging speed demon like the primal title track and the glorious Riding On The Wind, in which the guitar solos sound like two fighter jets in an intense aerial combat. Rob’s vocals on those two tracks are particularly stellar, high pitched angry screaming while boasting amazing control and skill. His vocals actually save the last track, Devil’s Child, from being a rock & roll disaster, giving the song a surprising edge with his barely controlled venom spitting.
Screaming For Vengeance was definitely a transitional album that displays the band in the process of shaking off their recent excursion into mainstream rock and developing a stronger and much heavier sound that would be further enhanced in their next album, Defenders Of The Faith. It has some shaky moments, and yet contains some of the most essential slabs of metal in their catalogue, thus it’s definitely worth getting as it certainly remains a prime showcase for what Judas Priest was all about in the 80s.
I clearly remember the day when I was a freshman in high school back in 1983 when a buddy of mine walked up and handed me this album, stating he wasn't into it anymore, and since I was discovering heavy metal, did I want it? Sure, I said, took it home and threw it on the turntable. That moment was a life-defining moment for me. I was exposed to one of the all time great British metal legends, and this is easily my second favorite album of theirs, one of my yardsticks for metal period. I say second favorite (and second best in the review title) since "Painkiller" is my favorite and their personal best in my eyes.
The Mighty Halford was in his prime and it shows on this album with his attitude-laden vocals ringing forth like the clarion call of the war trumpets of Hell, with some of his most impressive screaming and wailing ever recorded on display here. Even more subdued songs like "Bloodstone" feature plenty of attitude and spirit in his delivery, and he more than proves his status as one of the all time great metal gods id more than merited. If I were a singer, he'd be a huge influence on me, for sure.
Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing also really came into their own as guitar monsters on this album, their biting, soaring, screaming, moaning leads blazing forth with fantastic tone--Tom Allom's big, booming production set a standard for the time, I think--and burning passion. Their blues influence insured that plenty of feeling was included as well amongst the aggression, and it set them apart. Glenn's fluid shredding and K.K.'s more savage style were good counterparts to each other and made their guitar duels all the more furious. Some of the best playing is on the title track, Glenn's moody and emotional intro to "Bloodstone" (total blues with chilling majesty), "Electric Eye" with its dramatic intro ("The Hellion") and galvanizing opening riff that any banger worthy of the name will jump up screaming in delight over, and also "Riding on the Wind" with its searing whammy bar vibrato and diving. Simply delicious! Ian Hill and Dave Holland make for a formidable rhythm tank thundering away for the two guitar gods to go wild over, rock solid and un-fuck-with-able. Hill is not a technical wizard on the bass front, but he is just what the band needs, a steady and reliable player who lays it down and makes certain things stay in place.
Songs, so many good ones on here! The only ones I really don't care for as much as the others are album closer "Devil's Child", as while it is good it's not as good as the rest of the album--it doesn't seem to really fit with its overtly AC/DC influenced riff in the beginning, and "Pain and Pleasure", which drags in comparison to the rest of the album. Otherwise, this album's selection of songs is amazing, positively incredible in its scope of powerful riffing and fantastic guitar and vocal wizardry; the title track alone will get your heart pounding and your blood pumping and your face turning beet red as you try and fail to hit that insane high note Halford hits and holds at the end as the song crashes into concert staple "You've Got Another Thing Comin'", which is deservedly a classic with its lyrics extolling living your life for yourself and not letting others tell you what to do--how metal is that? In a very positive manner, too, something you don't normally hear.
In short, anyone who considers themselves a headbanger at all must own this album or they are unworthy. It's that simple. It was one of my first really serious metal albums and still in my vinyl archives to this day.
I can see from this album why Judas Priest absolutely defines metal for many people. This is classic 80s metal at its zenith. I have to admit, I've never cared for Judas Priest too much myself, perhaps because I've only heard what rock stations currently play from the JP catalog. These days, that means that about all you'll ever hear from this album is "Another Thing Coming." And, looking at the record objectively, I believe that song is actually one of the weaker tracks. "Electric Eye" carries a whole lot more speed and punch, which is probably why it was chosen as an opener. And then there's the title track "Screaming for Vengeance." I guess I can see why it's not played on the radio, what with that opening scream and all (thus the title of the track and the album). But THAT is a fine metal performance, Halford at his powerful best. Blistering guitar work and some mighty fine drumming make this track an absolute thrill to experience.
The double-guitar attack at the opening of "The Hellion" is a great intro to one of my other favorite tracks on the record, "Devil's Child." The crunchy guitar work and Halford's balls-to-the-wall vocals make this an outstanding track. The edge on Halford's voice is particularly gritty, which shows how versatile he is as a vocalist. No doubt about it, "Another Thing Coming" simply does not give a reliable impression of how good this album really is. I suppose we have to be thankful that some stations still play a little Judas Priest at all, but is it any coincidence that, when Pat Boone decided to record a "heavy metal" album, he chose "Another Thing Coming" as one of his songs to...um, reinterpret? I think not.
I'm beginning to listen a little more closely to Judas Priest now, and it's all thanks to this classic of 80s metal. Just goes to show you, never trust what you hear on the radio, especially when it comes to heavy metal.
Judas Priest’s back on track at last! After two not-so-great albums, they came out of nowhere with their glorious comeback. This whole thing screams “metal,” from its title to its cover to its songs. And what a set of songs we’ve got here! The whole band is in top form. The guitars screech with fury, the rhythm section thunders, and above all, the vocals soar. This is, by far, their greatest moment in the 80s. Every song is full of amazing riffs and at least one blazing solo, stuffed to bursting with cool sci-fi and independent lyrics. There are even metal ballads here!
It’s immediately apparent from the moment “The Hellion” comes on that Priest aren’t fooling around. The opening sequence is melodic yet oddly menacing, and at its climax the song gives way to one of the most legendary riffs in all of metal – the opening to “Electric Eye.” Yes, it’s that good; it’s powerful, inspiring, and energizing all at the same time. The lyrics detail, in rich imagery, a space-age surveillance machine that reminds of Big Brother, delivered in a restraint that further gives a feeling of something being hidden from the listener. One of the album’s most memorable and awesome solos graces this song with its presence, sealing its status as a legend in the realm of speed metal.
The speed continues in “Riding On the Wind.” This time, the restraint is gone; in its place you get shrieking falsetto – the kind Halford got famous for in the first place. The solo in this one is so high-register that it almost literally slashes your face off.
“Devil’s Child” is yet another example of metal at its best. The song employs an awesome “Back in Black” style crunch, making it great to headbang to. There’s yet another light-speed solo, not to mention an incredible falsetto-infused bridge. This is what “heavy rock” really means.
And at the top of the pack rushes the title track. You can tell from the scream only a few seconds in that this isn’t just any old song. And as if that weren’t convincing enough, “Screaming for Vengeance” continues to maul your body with ridiculously good riffs, insane wailed vocals, and to top it off, a face-melting, speedy solo. This isn’t a cliché, folks – this is a precedent.
However, there’s more to this album than speed. Take the cruelly underrated “Bloodstone,” for example. Though the tempo is toned down, the song is still undeniably metal. The best part of the song has to be the chorus, with its awesome vocal prowess.
On the lighter side of things (if you can call it light), you have the ballads. “(Take These) Chains” is something a bit new for the band, not quite progressive like “Victim of Changes,” but not quite standard either. The chorus is quite memorable, and through the whole song Halford comes across as genuinely depressed. “Fever” is more of the same (that is, more of the good) but also involves a masterful falsetto bridge much like that of “Devil’s Child.”
And let’s not forget “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming,” the other Priest song everybody knows. The song has strong, competently written, defiant lyrics, a great chorus, and an immortal and instantly memorable solo. Unlike many other bands’ “hits,” this is actually awesome.
All in all, Screaming for Vengeance is a glorious return to form for this storied band. Not a single song (except maybe “Pain and Pleasure”) ever dips in quality, and there’s enough greatness to keep listeners coming back again and again. It’s too bad this greatness didn’t last.
There have been many bands which go through the already clichéd act of "Rise/Fall/Comeback" albums. But most bands who pull it off just do it once; a series of good albums, followed by one or two mediocre ones, and then a "comeback album" which most of the time sucks. However, by 1983, Judas Priest were already releasing their EIGHTH album in the form of 'Screaming for Vengeance'. And by 1983, Priest had already went through the 'Fall', in the form of the boring 'Point of Entry'. I mean, by 1983, bands like Maiden were just releasing their fourth albums, and Anthrax/Slayer/Metallica their debuts. Priest were able to repeat the Rise/Fall process three times, with 'Point of Entry', then 'Turbo', and more recently 'Jugulator'.
So this is Priest's comeback off Point of Entry, and it was a huge improvement over that one. It seems that they listened to some Maiden before recording this, because it's influence seems frequent in tracks like 'The Hellion', with it's harmonized guitars, and in 'Bloodstone', with it's melodic riffs (it's just a small influence, there are no galloping riffs, which are a trademark of the 'Irons, for example). Following the harmonized layers of 'The Hellion', the album explodes with the first 'proper' track, which is 'Electric Eye', and it has one of the most metal riffs I've ever heard; those kind of riffs which you show to random non-metalheads and they'll automatically know it's a Heavy Metal riff! My only problem with 'Electric Eye' is that Halford doesn't wail or hit any high notes, and he just does those British Steel-like midrange vocals.
However, since Halford didn't wail at all in 'Electric Eye', then he proves he CAN fucking do them on 'Riding on the Wind', which is filled with falsettos and screaming guitar solos; Halford going "riidinng on the winnddd" at full power is really great too. But what keeps Screaming for Vengeance from getting a higher score is '(Take These) Chains' along with 'Pain and Pleasure'. The first is a take on a radio-friendly pop-metal hit, while 'Pain and Pleasure' is very quiet, almost harmless, and I can't find anything really good in it, perhaps that guitar solo at 2:33, but nothing else.
When 'Pain and Pleasure' ends in a rather unremarkable note, we fucking have another Halford wail coming out of nowhere, and it's actually the goddamn TITLE TRACK! It's pure speed metal which marked the beginning of things to come (yeah, Painkiller). 'Screeaaminng! Screaming for Vengeance!", if it wasn't for Dave Holland thinking of child porn the whole time instead of focusing on drumming, this song (and the whole album for that matter) would be much better. It's sad how we have Glenn and KK doing their best at the guitars, with Halford killing himself to get those falsettos, Ian Hill at least writing some songs, while Holland is just a fucking metronome with some cymbal hits. Okay my rant is over. After the title track, it wouldn't be wise to put some more speed metal, since it would either overshadow the already awesome Title Track, or fuck itself do to it's own suckness. No, what they needed was a huge hitting, Arena Rock style classic! Fuck yes! 'You've Got Another Thing Comin' ' is this album's Breaking the Law, it's catchy, pretty simple, and a really fun sing-along, specially the pre-chorus of "if you think I'll sit around as the world goes by". It of course was a huge hit, and the guitar solo in the middle is a nice touch.
At this time you may be wondering why the Title Track wasn't the best song. That's because we fucking have 'Fever'! It manages to do what '...Chains' didn't, which was being a pop-metal ballad like arena rock song. It starts with a very mellow acoustic intro, with Halford singing a melody which will get stuck in your head for WEEKS to come. There's also a little synth doing the bass lines (I'm not sure if Ian Hill did them on the rest of the song though), then the song just explodes doing circles around 'Chains'. The chorus is fucking majestic, although I have no idea why did it hit me so, since the melody in the verses is so great! Then there is a harmonizing guitar solo between Glenn and KK, and though it's not very shreddy, it suits the song perfectly. After it there's a little bridge, then out of nowhere, it explodes into one of the best moments in the history of metal: "So destiny has bought us oh so close together!" that thing comes out of nowhere, the first time I heard it, I wasn't expecting it at all. 'Fever' is the best song in here, beating 'Electric Eye', and the Title Track; it's sad how it's never played live, and it's not on compilations, and pretty much nobody gives a shit about it.
Screaming for Vengeance finishes with 'Devil's Child', and it kinda starts weak, until the chorus which has Halford viciously shrieking "II BEELIEEEVEEEE". It's cool how that chorus gets louder with every repetition, though the closer is kinda overlong, and it ends in a very unpleasant mode, it just...stops! You should get this for the best Priest album of the 80's, it's the most consistent of them all, since British Steel has even more 'weak' tracks, and 'Defenders...' is just good for the first half. It has it's moments though, and when it does, IT'S FUCKING KILLER!
While I am often outspoken about my opinion that Judas Priest is, and has always been a superior band to Iron Maiden, it's albums like this that really conspire to shoot my thesis to little tiny metal bits.
Maiden, I feel, is not a consistent band within the context of their albums. True, Maiden has had an almost unparalleled run of well-regarded records stretching from the self-titled debut (hell, from Soundhouse Tapes) through Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, each spawning songs of terrifying innovation and brilliance that are near enough to universal metallic grails that everybody from Death Metal Dave to Prog Metal Perry can enjoy them without shame for ever and ever. However, outside of Piece of Mind and perhaps the Dance of Death, Maiden doesn't really have any albums that, to my mind, are must own records. They are a greatest hits band if you will.
Priest on the other hand is completely the other way, i.e. when their albums are good they are virtually perfect all the way through (Sin After Sin, Hell Bent for Leather, Defenders of the Faith) whereas when they are bad they have almost no redeeming qualities (Demolition, Ram it Down, Jugulator). I myself prefer a catalogue that, while full of holes, has plenty of whole ALBUMS that you can really sink your figurative teeth into. However, there are two exceptions to this catch-all to my mind, those albums oddly being their best regarded by modern metalheads: Screaming for Vengeance and Painkiller.
Screaming has as powerful a start as you could possibly imagine, which alone makes it worth consideration after you've bought everything the band released prior to 1980, as well as '84's classic Defenders of the Faith. Imagine back in 1982, after the solid but uninspired British Steel and the banal, blase Point of Entry, you decide on a lark to pick up this intriguingly-titled new release. First thing you hear is a new-found/rediscovered confidence and that almost aristocratic class that is the hallmark of classic Priest. "The Hellion" is a spine-chilling intro, 30 seconds of Maiden-improving power that leads into what has to be the most melodic and commercially acceptable speed metal of all, "Electric Eye", one of those steadily increasing building blocks towards the creation of power metal proper with the advent of Helloween.
It's funny how the album straddles the line between British Steel-style avoidance of huge frightening high notes on tracks like "(Take These) Chains", "Electric Eye", and "You Got Another Thing Coming" and insane going off the falsetto deep-end tunes like the wavery "Ridin' on the Wind" and the shrieking mayhem of the title track. Moving further in this direction Priest seems to be trying to please both camps at once, the existing and potential commercial fans brought in by British Steel and Point of Entry and the mildly depressed and considerably disappointed metal heads who live for the Stained Class/Hell Bent for Leather side of the band. Hence, mediocre groove-based stadium rock like "Bloodstone", "Fever" (perhaps this one is a little novel), "Pain and Pleasure", and of course the mechanized Kiss-stomp of "You Got Another Thing Coming" sits uneasily beside proto-power metal like "Ridin' on the Wind" and viciously AC/DC-style crunch on "Devil's Child".
The majority of the band is actually top-flight this time around, Downing and Tipton really flexing on shreddy solos like "Screaming for Vengeance" and bendy melodic ones such as "Bloodstone", all riffed with a tight and sharp execution, the blatantly commercial aspects wrapped in an undeniably metal armour. Rob Halford is at his bravura best, whether he's (cliché alert) screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeamin' on the title track, displaying fine range on "Devil's Child" (really kickin' live performance on the remastered edition), or practicing a sly restraint on "Electric Eye", convincing you of some sort of unearthly technological intelligence beyond your skill to grasp. Unfortunately Holland is his usual shitty self, playing horribly uninspired and limiting drums that really make you resent the loss of Binks, and nobody really gives a damn about Ian Hill.
Screaming for Vengeance as an album is painfully great when it's on, painfully meh when it isn't... sorta like a lot of those Maiden albums I mentioned. It's also unfortunately the next to last really good Judas Priest album (say 80+ scoring range), as their post-Defenders output is truly shameful, although a few remaining bastions of genius like “Painkiller” and “Out in the Cold” that have kept the flame alive for those of us awaiting all these long years for their (hopefully) triumphant rebirth. The new album is in sight. Will it be able to compare to the classics? We shall see.
Stand-Outs: "The Hellion/Electric Eye", "Screaming for Vengeance", "Devil's Child"