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Massively Influential - 100%

slaveraider, March 13th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1988, CD, RCA

Judas Priest walks into the major leagues with their second LP Sad Wings of Destiny. After the semi-psychedelic, but highly underrated Rocka Rolla, Priest tighten up their songwriting a little bit, and push the psychedelia further into the background and bring the metal. Unsatisfied with the production of their debut LP, they were decidedly more involved in their second album. The sound quality is a big step up, though because it was released independently it spawned many cheap fly by night reissues like the first album. Though the Repertoire Records was the best CD version of Rocka Rolla, your best bet is to get the Line Records version and add on some treble as it's a very flat sounding CD. The RCA is a little bass heavy, but it's good as well. Overall the production is a step in the right direction with less tape hiss and a better track selection. Rodger Bain forced them to leave off "Victim of Changes", getting rid of him was the right decision, though I'm glad he did because it opening this album is right where it belongs. Though there is some controversy about reversed sides and that Prelude should actually start this one, my RCA CD started with "Victim of Changes", and that is the only way I'll listen to it.

The band takes a huge step up in the songwriting department on this album. Whereas most of the Rocka Rolla material was written before Glenn Tipton was in the band, he has a writing credit on all nine songs on this one. As the best writer in the band, the material is noticeably more focused and just better. While Rocka Rolla was underrated and had a couple of great tunes and mostly just good ones, every song on this album is a classic. "Victim of Changes" and "The Ripper" is the greatest opening one-two punch in all of heavy metal, and "Victim of Changes" is likely the best Priest song ever recorded. It contains all the trademarks. Opening with a twin guitar attack it moves into a rather slow bluesy number with an infectious riff and Rob Halford's godlike shriek. The song builds and builds and then breaks down and you get to hear Halford's underrated lower register. The song builds up again with Halford singing "changes" with growing intensity until the song kicks back into gear heavier than ever with a Halford scream, ending in another that by the ending leaves you thinking "what the fuck did I just hear". "The Ripper" is the perfect follow up to this epic as it is short and to the point. It's a nice dramatic song about Jack the Ripper featuring great guitar work and some jaw dropping vocal work from Halford.

"Dreamer Deceiver" is a psychedelic ballad that is the greatest showcase of Rob Halford's vocal range on any LP. It along with the superb "Epitaph" are the two albums ballads. For a band not at all known for ballads, they're sure damn good at writing them. The rest of the album offers some mid-paced to fast metal tunes with lyrics that have not reached the cheesiness that they started to with Killing Machine. They're mysterious and actually have social commentary on "Genocide", and about the discrimination Halford felt as a homosexual in "Island of Domination".

Concise tunes such as "Tyrant", "Deceiver", "Genocide", and "Island of Domination" had a profound influence on the music of the '80s, and solidifies Judas Priest as the single most important influence on heavy metal in the future. Twin guitar attack, tight and catchy riffs, concise running time, killer vocalists, and blistering guitar solos. Sad Wings of Destiny is their definitive LP, as it shows these traits in fully realized form for the first time, and also the best time.