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It's heavier and darker than SFV, but better? - 86%

TrooperEd, March 4th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2001, CD, Columbia Records (Remastered)

This is about as dark and heavy/thrashy that Judas Priest would get with Dave Holland. Having learned from the British Steel to Point of Entry mishap, Priest decided to swing around in a much more sinister direction for the follow up to their commercial monster Screaming For Vengeance. There's a mood here that we haven't quite gotten from Priest since Stained Class.

With that said, I have a hard time agreeing with the metal maniacs that believe this is Priest's finest offering of the 80s. I mean it has a few things that it's earlier counterpart doesn't (we went from the Falconzord to its convoluted looking brother Pingaszord for one). There is certainly a more morbid atmosphere to be found here rather than there as well. So I can sort of see where they are coming from. At first you could even argue that the weird moments that were on SFV, like Fever and Pain & Pleasure just aren't here. Except...they are. Theose moments are called Night Comes Down and Love Bites. Some of you might like these songs, guess what, I love them too, but let's not pretend that these lighter moments are the second coming of Beyond The Realms of Death. Another point against this album is Eat Me Alive, which just sucks. No, it's not because of "I'm gonna force you at gunpoint to eat me alive," it's the fact that the song sounds like something a hardcore band would write to take the piss out of bands like Priest and Maiden because they don't understand what makes heavy metal great music

Nonetheless, at this point in the timeline Judas Priest are becoming more and more consistent. Side A of this album just might be the greatest album side of Judas Priest's career. An absolutely scorching four song killing streak consisting of speed metal symphonies Freewheel Burning and Jawbreaker, respectable arena attempt with Rock Hard, Ride Free, and the pre-Helloween EP power metal fury of The Sentinel. Other killer songs include Night Comes Down, and Rob Halligan Jr.'s attempt to make a more menacing Green Manalishi, Some Heads Are Gonna Roll. The production, while, again, not quite as crystalline as its predecessor is still fairly heavy and won't confuse any ignorant nu-metal fans of this being glam metal. People also tell me that Dave Holland manages one or two decent double bass passages here, but I can't quite hear them (Jawbreaker maybe?).

Defenders of the Faith is another essential metal classic from the Priest. It doesn't quite have the teeth of a Painkiller, but if you want to see the genesis of those particular molars, that's the best reason I can think of why you would want to get this before Painkiller.