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From the opening riffs of "Sinner," you know you are in for a hell of a ride on this classic Judas Priest album. The dual guitar attack of Tipton and Downing is in full gear from the get go, and Halford's vocals have a great edge to them. Then the screams of "Sinner!" combine with the blistering guitar solos, and we are rolling.
I have to admit, when I saw Joan Baez's name on the credits for "Diamonds and Rust," I thought, "Waitaminit, this is a metal album, right?" But this track is superb. Baez's lyrics and melodies fit the rhythmic drive of Priest's metal beautifully, and Rob Halford has rarely sounded better.
Hats off to Roger Glover's excellent production skills. This album sounds so clear and powerful througout, it's amazing to consider that this was recorded in 1977. Glover's ear is put to good use, and he brings out the best in the band throughout the album. I've always admired his abilities in Deep Purple, both as bass player and producer, and this product just increases my admiration.
I think the greatest surprise for me on the record is the laid back grooviness of "Last Rose of Summer." It's definitely not the kind of sound one generally associates with the legendary metal brashness of this band, but it's really a nice track. I think it's no shame when a metal band can lay it back, and the playing and singing on this track show a tremendous sensitivity. Anyway, heavy metal was just in its young years in these days, and a band like Judas Priest could afford to explore their soft and hard sides, as they do to great effect on this album.
I have read reviews of Sin After Sin that speak of Queen's influence, and I definitely heard that influence on the opening of " Let Us Prey/ Call for the Priest." In fact, as I listened to this bit, I found myself thinking of Queen's early track "Great King Rat." It's not the same style, exactly, but there are similarities in the overall sound of production: the layers of guitars, the upbeat drum pattern, and even Halford's vocal is reminiscent of Freddie Mercury. Fun track...
Although Judas Priest had not yet ascended to the prominence they would attain in the eighties, this album definitely laid the foundation for what they would later achieve. I'm not even sure they were strictly a heavy metal band at this point in their development, but regardless, this album is a hell of a good time, and is a great example of early heavy metal style. From beginning to end, it's a rock and roll treat.