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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.
“Screaming for Vengeance” is the eighth studio album by Judas Priest and undeniably one of their most famous, containing hits such as You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ and Electric Eye.
This album is varied containing some speed metal, (Title track) rock, (You’ve Got another Thing Comin’) and ballads (Take These Chains). Unfortunately, this album is also very inconsistent, as a decent amount of weak songs are also mixed in. The flaws of these said songs are, in most cases, too much repetition and lack of creativity. Much of these problems are specifically present during the more rockish numbers as well, which really doesn’t help. Thankfully, a lot of the other stuff is damn good, such as Electric Eye, Riding on the Wind, and the (Take These) Chains.
The production sounds crisp and very professional. (Think Maiden production) Bass is mostly fairly standard, but does manage some good stuff in one of the solos (Pain and Pleasure). Downing and Tipton’s guitars are a highlight on this album with amazing solos and riffs around almost every corner. You can find some of the band’s best guitar solos on Riding on the Wind and the title track. Contrary to the popular belief, Holland is a decent drummer, and gets the job done. Not technical, but very competent. Lastly, Halford does well most of the time. Again, repetition and lack of creativity bring him down at times, but performances like Electric Eye and Riding on the Wind more than make up for this.
The album starts off with an epic opener, The Hellion, which is misleading, but very cool. It jumps right into Electric Eye, which I would call one of Priest’s best, kicking ass right from the start with a powerful opening riff and rocking verses. Interesting vocal performance from Halford, who sings in a declamatory style for the verses and an aggressive, rough sound for the chorus, topped with tons of various effects. The solo is great and the outro is as powerful as the opening which leaves you very satisfied. Good stuff.
Riding on the Wind, the second best song on this album comes up next. It opens with some cool drum effects before the riffs kick in and it really starts flying. Also, the solo features some of the highest pitched guitars to ever grace my ears; very wild solo that makes this “flight” even more extreme. Halford primarily uses falsetto vocals for his singing, which also sounds great.
The album slows down with Bloodstone, our next track. The song has a nice galloping bass riff and some excellent soloing later on. Halford sings the verses with much enthusiasm, but the chorus is nothing but him yelling, “Bloodstone!” in a rather uninteresting way. Not a highlight, but very good. The ballad, (Take These) Chains is really good. The song has a mysterious and sorrowful opening, followed by some beautiful singing. Chorus is pretty poppy, but has a good ounce of emotion put into it. Great guitarwork as well, even if the song lacks solos. Unfortunately the album’s first flop Pain and Pleasure comes next, which really breaks the great streak the first tracks have. This sounds like an average rock song for most of the time. Vocals are pretty good, but the flaws don’t make them shine. The solo is awesome though, well backed up by some cool bass, so the song is ultimately worth hearing because of this.
The album makes a slight comeback with the title track. Screaming For Vengeance combines the airborne atmosphere of Riding on the Wind with the aggression of Electric Eye. Again, riffs are really hard-hitting, but it’s the incredibly fast solo that really gets me, as it simply kicks ass with ferocity! Vocals are very inconsistent however, as alongside the amazing screams, you’ll find a lot of lazy falsetto that ultimately fails to punch. The song is overall inconsistent, but entertaining. You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’, the album’s biggest hit is surprisingly good. Fairly mainstream and rocky, but the heavy riffing and awesome chorus really turn it into a highlight. The fade out outro is a bit bleh, but the song is really cool.
From here on, the album falls apart. Fever is like Pain and Pleasure except maybe a little worse. The song contains a decent opening and solo, but most of it is average verses and an overly repetitive chorus that is way too prominent. Devil’s Child also sucks, suffering from similar flaws. It does provide yet another good solo however, and I like the vocal section following the solo a lot too, so it does have moments.
Overall, very good album, but it really suffers from its flaws so I can’t confidently call it one of their best. If you’re not familiar with Judas Priest, then this is a good starting point, as it covers a good deal of their styles, and certainly showcases some great performances.
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"