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Old School Heavy Metal At Its Best - 99%

stainedclass2112, January 18th, 2016

There are few albums out there that combine musicianship, creativity, great songwriting, and raw talent in such a way as Sad Wings of Destiny does. This album made a huge impact on heavy metal and remains one of the genres greatest works. Black Sabbath were doing their thing experimenting with the beast they created, and then Judas Priest came along with this masterpiece and completely refined the genre. This album takes the blues-inspired riffing and song structures that had been a part of earlier heavy metal and injects it with a healthy dosage of speed, power, and aggression.

Sad Wings of Destiny has a very unique and diverse set of songs. From the bluesy yet heavy "Victim of Changes" to the fast and powerful "Tyrant", Sad wings has a lot of different material to offer. All of the tracks, with the exception of the prelude, "Dreamer Deceiver", and "Epitaph", are Mid-tempo to fast and are all heavy and powerful, especially for their time (1976!). Along with the unmistakable heavy metal vibe the album has, there is a progressive element that is actually quite evident. If you look at the awesome "Tyrant", there is a lot of different riffs and uniquely arranged chord progressions present. Not even the solos have a similar riff backing them, each solo section has its own unique rhythm supporting it. This is also quite evident in "Island of Domination" and especially "The Ripper". "The Ripper" is very oddly arranged, yet it works extremely well, and is actually a fan-favorite, and a favorite of mine. The main riff to "The Ripper" is really wicked sounding and it fits the subject matter perfectly, well, its not really a "riff", more of a quick set of notes. Call it a riff or not, it's awesome, and it really shows the true songwriting talent that Judas Priest possessed. I could go more in depth into the songs to try to prove my point on how good they are, but I don't have to, as each song and the album especially as a whole prove themselves. The album is supposed to start with "Prelude" and go to "Island of Domination", then play the rest of the songs, but the miserable record company screwed up the sides on the original vinyls apparently, so most of the CD's and a bunch of the vinyls have this error as well. Whether you care or not is up to you, but I recommend listening with Prelude, Tyrant, Genocide and so on, but its not that big of a deal. From start to finish Sad Wings is a listening experience that never gets old.

The musicianship on here is absolutely spectacular. This was the dawn of twin-lead guitar playing, with KK and Glenn storming through each riff and solo with a dual axe driven fury that was unmatched at the time. The guitar playing is absolutely top notch, the riffs (which in some places are pretty complex) and the solos are mindblowingly cool. What is also really impressive is when the album enters a softer or creepier section, the guitars match the mood of the section, which adds to the awesomeness of the song. Go listen to the middle part of "The Ripper", the buildup part of "Genocide" or the slow, relaxed part of "Victim of Changes" to see what I mean. Do I even have to mention Rob effing Halford? Definitely in the top 5 metal vocalists of all time. In my opinion this is actually Rob's best performance, I like his vocals here just a *tad* bit more than I do on Stained Class, although I do like that album a *tad* more than this one. My reasoning behind this is that he delivers some stunningly beautiful vocal passages on some of these tracks, such as on "Dreamer Deceiver", "Epitaph", and of course the middle section from "Victim of Changes". Not to take anything away from his singing on the heavier tracks, because it is amazing as well, unrivaled actually, but his soft singing back to back with his soaring highs is just icing on the cake. I think this is Ian Hill's best performance out of his entire tenure with the band. You not only can actually hear him, but his basslines are very creative and sometimes very awesome. The bass backing "Deceiver" is very awesome, even if you don't immediately notice that the bass is actually in a higher octave than the guitar. The bassline to "Tyrant" is the greatest one he has ever played and it shows that if he really wants to, Ian can jam. Playing along side Ian is Alan Moore on the drums, who has a very good performance here, it's not spectacular but for its time this was great, and it actually still is. The production on here is the best as possible for back then, everything is clear and crisp sounding, but due to its age, it has a distinct punch and crunch, a sound I love to hear so much that only these old heavy metal albums can offer.

Overall, Sad Wings of Destiny is an absolute classic, not just in heavy metal terms, but for music in general. This album has stood the test of time for a very long time now, and it still stands as one of the greatest heavy metal albums ever. I never get sick of this masterpiece, and honestly Judas Priest only matched this with Stained Class. I definitely recommend this to all rock music and heavy metal fans, this should be a staple of every heavy metal fan's collection. If you are very new to heavy metal, check this album out if you haven't already, it will blow you away. Sad Wings of Destiny is a frighteningly good album that is, from start to finish, as close to flawless as possible.