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Most of you are probably familiar with Stained Class. In case you aren't though, Stained Class is largely regarded as one of the best Metal albums ever released. While most of us can argue that all night long, the fact still remains that Stained Class was WAY ahead of its time and it influenced a ton of Metal bands. The first track on Stained Class was "Exciter". Featuring close to nonstop double bass (practically unheard of during that time) and fast riffing, this song helped to form the basis for the genres of Speed Metal and early Power Metal. Everyone from Primal Fear to Silent Force to Helloween took inspiration from this song in a big way I’m sure.
The rest of the CD is full of great riffs, and despite being released in '78, the basic heaviness of the riffs still stand up in a big way to today's Metal. Halford's vocals aren't quite as refined as they would be on later releases, but they are still great and he shows us his many different styles- the best being his now famous screams. Lately, Judas Priest lyrics aren't the bands strong point, but on Stained Class they were very good. With topics ranging from aliens on "Invaders" and references to Hell on "Saints In Hell", the CD is very varied lyrically, as well as musically. Some songs take on a more bluesy approach like "White Heat, Red Hot" while others take on a more progressive and complex song structure approach such as on the classic, "Beyond The Realms Of Death". Whatever the approach Judas Priest take to the song writing on Stained Class, the result is the same: classic heavy metal with memorable riffs, amazing leads, great vocals, and an overall satisfying listening experience. There are no bad or boring moments at all. Every song is classic, even the lesser known "Heroes End" and the cover of "Better By You, Better Than Me". The title track also has some of my favorite lead work, not really from a technical stand point, but just how it fits so perfectly with the song; especially the harmonization lead section. Downing and Tipton were close to their best on here with these riffs/leads. Stained Class just simply contains amazing guitar work.
On the remaster of Stained Class the sound has been very much improved. It does not detract from the classic feel of Judas Priest though, you just won't have to turn up your speakers all the way to hear every thing. The bonus track "Fire Down Below" is an unfinished song that still has its original drum machine track on it. The actual song, minus the drum track, isn't bad. The vocals are really good and the acoustic guitar parts are a highlight; I would have been interested in hearing a completed version of this track. The live version of "Better By You, Better Than Me" isn't one of Halford's better live performances but it's still nice to hear the song live. If you're new to Stained Class, definitely go for the remaster, the sound quality on the original detracts a lot.