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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.