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Glowing god of Mars! - 81%

Brainded Binky, February 15th, 2015

I've mentioned in another review that I preferred "British Steel" over "Screaming for Vengeance", and there are reasons for this. It's not that "Screaming for Vengeance" is a terrible album (come on, I did give it more than 80% after all!), it's just that it doesn't have as much of Priest's aggression as the other albums have to offer. It's mostly commercial-sounding, but we do get some of that grinding and pounding sound that we crave, and the songs that contain them are classics that remain in our memories and will do so in the decades to come.

Possibly what made this album a classic among metal fans are the songs that are actually awesome. The whole album begins with a very effective harmonic riff that makes up "The Hellion", which goes into the equally powerful "Electric Eye". The latter is a fast and driving song that, with the improved production quality, set new standards for Judas Priest. Just as some of their songs got more and more radio-friendly, others got more and more aggressive. Sure, there were songs with faster tempos released even before "Screaming for Vengeance" ("Exciter" being one of my favorites), but the production quality of this album makes this song, along with the fast-paced title track, seem more aggressive and heavier than before. I guess being with a big record label like CBS was sort of a double-edged sword for the band, as they did seem to create some good stuff like "Electric Eye", but at the same time, they also released songs like "(Take These) Chains" (more on that later).

Some of the radio-friendly songs are more tolerable than others. For example, we've got the famous "You've Got Another Thing Comin'". It is at a more commercial pace, but it still has all the swagger that it needs to be a good song. More little-known songs, like "Bloodstone" and "Devil's Child" are sort of the same way, but the latter seems to have a more glam-like style. This might be foreshadowing the days of the dreaded "Turbo" album, the band's equivalent of Celtic Frost's "Cold Lake". Even with that said, it's not as bad as it could be. It's still kinda out of character for the band to release it, but what's even more out of character is "Pain and Pleasure". It's a slow, hard rock song that would be lousy enough to compete with "Don't Go" from "Point of Entry". The song I have the most complaints about, though, is "(Take These) Chains", a song written not by the band, but by a guy named Bob Halligan Jr. He was responsible for some songs by KISS, Kix, and, get this, Cher. Yeah, that Cher. No, not "chair", Cher. If you listened to the song, the evidence couldn't be any more glaring. It's got some insanely stupid melodies, especially in the chorus, so the heavy guitars and vocal performance of Rob Halford don't excuse the song from being ostracized by fans (including myself). In fact, Halford's vocals just don't seem to fit with that kind of melody. If you want someone who's more capable of pulling it off, I would suggest Paul Stanley instead. Rob Halford is too gruff and aggressive for those kinds of melodies. Sorry Mr. Halligan!

However, "(Take These) Chains" is just one song on the album, so it's not like the whole album has that insipid sound found there. If you want an excellent song that still has a bit of radio-friendliness (what very few of you there are), let's just ignore "(Take These) Chains" and go for "Riding on the Wind". Man, is that a powerful song! It's got a hard, rocking riff, but it's also set at a fast, driving tempo, like the more metal-influenced "Electric Eye". It's also where Halford's soaring and screeching vocals shine brightest. I can't really think of any song that consists entirely of Rob screaming his lungs out for every lyric of the song that had been released earlier. It puts a lot more power into the song, and that's one reason why it's one of my favorites on "Screaming for Vengeance". It's also the reason why I didn't give the album a rating lower than 80%. While the more commercial songs do take some points off, it's songs like "Riding on the Wind" that keep the album in the air.

Those songs, however, aren't enough for me to get "Screaming for Vengeance" a higher rating. The radio-friendliness is more prevalent here, and it's hard to ignore the sheer cheesiness of those songs. Nonetheless, some people still seem to enjoy it. I do, but not as much as other Priest albums. In my personal opinion, it's not as good as it could be. If it cut back on the radio-friendliness, it would've been on the same level as a much better, but often overlooked album released later, "Defenders of the Faith". I do have to admit, though, I love the album cover art!