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Judas Priest's Blueprint for Success - 82%

Superchard, April 6th, 2018

At the turn of the decade, in the early 1980s it would seem that Judas Priest was starting to lose steam with their 1980 snore-fest "British Steel" seeing the band going towards a more stripped down commercial route. The very next year they would follow it up with what many fans consider to be the weakest album in their entire catalogue "Point of Entry". It would seem that the heavy metal Goliath had finally been brought down until out of nowhere the band was hit with a stroke of brilliance and would follow up what many consider to be their weakest album with what many would consider to be their strongest to date.

Masterful production, a crunchy and warm guitar tone, catchy yet thoughtful songwriting, twin guitar solos, graying the lines between pop and heavy metal and Rob Halford screaming as if it were for vengeance or something. 1982's Screaming for Vengeance brought Judas Priest back on the map and gave fans more of what they had come to expect from the band. From this point on Judas Priest would finally have a record that would become the blueprint for their most successful albums including this album's follow up Defenders of the Faith, Painkiller and their most recent release to date, Firepower. Straight away from the opening melodic dual guitar work on "The Hellion" it's evident that this is a much more polished Judas Priest than what we've heard before on albums previous to this. The guitars unapologetically soar through the speakers and introduce us to the fan favorite speed metal classic "Electric Eye", an excellent track to start the album off proper which typifies much of what comes to follow. There is no shortage of catchy guitar riffs, powerful high end falsetto screams, lyrics, and excellent bass and drum work.

It's all here for the most part, with the only duds being a song by the name of "(Take These) Chains" and the track that follows "Pain and Pleasure". The former being the weakest song on the album, but admittedly wasn't written by the band but an American rock singer by the name of Bob Halligan Jr. If you have a newer copy of the album, chances are you have another dud by the name of "Prisoner of your Eyes" which I believe was left off the initial release for good reason. A slower tune that stretches out over 7 minutes, boldly sitting there right at the end of the album as if to taunt you and dares you to not skip it. It's a sappy pop metal tune much more in the vain of something like Scorpions that lacks emotion, grit, or personality. "Hallowed be thy Name" this is not.

Aside from these three songs in particular though, Screaming for Vengeance is a relentless piece of work that blends together pop and heavy metal and has spawned classic rock tunes such as the radio hit "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" and "Devil's Child" which seem to take a page from the riff-rock catchiness of AC/DC, but with songwriting that allows the songs to convey more than just a few ideas whereas tracks like "Riding on the Wind" and the title track take the album towards more of a speed metal direction. In my opinion this is where the album really takes its stride is on these more up-tempo tracks. Dave Holland pounds away on the beginning of "Riding on the Wind" like a madman behind the kit and the guitar work here is a level beyond on what can be heard on the slower tracks. The only exception to that rule being the slower blues metal crunch of "Bloodstone" which has this really interesting, up-and-down swaggering guitar solo that eventually molds into something more typical of Judas Priest. It's moments like this where Screaming for Vengeance has just a touch of its own style that separates it from the rest of Priest's catalogue.

For the most part, "Screaming for Vengeance" dials the volume knob and gain knobs all the way up and leaves them there. It's not the masterpiece that many fans have made it out to be with only a few snoozers intermingled in an other fantastic album. By the end of it all "Screaming for Vengeance" manages to accomplish what it sets out to do in spades. Highly recommended for anyone that hasn't already gotten into Judas Priest, this is perhaps the best place to start to get acquainted with the band's brand of heavy metal music.

Superchard gets super hard for:
Screaming for Vengeance
Devil's Child
Riding on the Wind