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Judas Priest > Painkiller > Reviews > AmogusEnjoyer
Judas Priest - Painkiller

Beginning of a new era - 99%

AmogusEnjoyer, May 24th, 2023

Judas Priest are a band that I am very much certain does not need any introduction at this point. However, back in the early 90s they were stuck in quite a bit of a drama with the whole "your devil music caused my child to commit suicide" court case, and even if I will defend "Ram It Down" to my dying breath, the fact that their last 2 albums weren't quite to the Priest standard as seen by fans spawned a big question. Can Judas Priest get back on track with the next album or will they keep sinking deeper into the quicksand?

In September 1990 the fans got their answers when Scott Travis tears open the listener's ears with a drum bombardment of never before seen ferocity. From the first few seconds you know what you are getting on this album and Judas Priest are happy to deliver it. Unstoppable rampage of high speed metal backed with Halford's high pitched vocal delivery. Of course I am a bit exaggarating since album does slow down a bit for "Night Crawler" and some intros are indeed slower, but 90% of this album is just speed and power. The opener and title track "Painkiller" explains it best. You get ferocious drumming, high-pitched vocals, rampaging twin guitar assault and extensive soloing. The other side of the album are slower mid-tempo songs like "Touch of Evil" is, closest thing to a ballad on this album where Halford also sings in a middle vocal range as a nice reprieve to high-pitched ones. This interplay between high-pitched vocals and middle range ones carries on through whole album except the title track.

The entire band is at its peak here, but my man of the match award goes to actually two guys. Glenn Tipton and Scott Travis. Tipton because his soloing throughout the album is insanely good and pretty much confirms his status as one of best lead guitar players in entire metal genre. Scott Travis delivers some of the most ferocious and laser precise drumming I have heard. Rob Halford gives his all and manages to deliver the best vocal performance of his entire career, switching between high-pitch and midrange like it's nothing. K.K. Downing is ferocious on the rhythm guitar and his solos are still enough to give Tipton a run for his money. Ian Hill's bass gets kinda lost in the production but on repeat listenings one can get quite a bit of creative basslines out of this record. Mixing and mastering on this record is really good, all the guitar licks and harmonies can be enjoyed by a listener without it becoming muddy or too clean. Like said before, on repeat listenings you will even start hearing the bass.

Meteoric impact of this album is also worth talking about. After the hairspray days of glam metal, Judas Priest gave all younger bands a lesson on how to carry forward in a time when metal's being pushed underground, something very much needed considering commercial obliteration in form of grunge that was about to hit the metal world. And all the albums and bands this record inspired are too numerous to count, it basically launched a new era in metal history, especially for power metal.

I pretty much don't even need to recommend this. This album has transcended even the Judas Priest themselves. Even people who are not fans of Judas Priest worship this record pretty hard. But, if by any chance you haven't listened to it, fix that mistake right now.