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Priest At Their Second Best - 95%

corviderrant, July 16th, 2009

I clearly remember the day when I was a freshman in high school back in 1983 when a buddy of mine walked up and handed me this album, stating he wasn't into it anymore, and since I was discovering heavy metal, did I want it? Sure, I said, took it home and threw it on the turntable. That moment was a life-defining moment for me. I was exposed to one of the all time great British metal legends, and this is easily my second favorite album of theirs, one of my yardsticks for metal period. I say second favorite (and second best in the review title) since "Painkiller" is my favorite and their personal best in my eyes.

The Mighty Halford was in his prime and it shows on this album with his attitude-laden vocals ringing forth like the clarion call of the war trumpets of Hell, with some of his most impressive screaming and wailing ever recorded on display here. Even more subdued songs like "Bloodstone" feature plenty of attitude and spirit in his delivery, and he more than proves his status as one of the all time great metal gods id more than merited. If I were a singer, he'd be a huge influence on me, for sure.

Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing also really came into their own as guitar monsters on this album, their biting, soaring, screaming, moaning leads blazing forth with fantastic tone--Tom Allom's big, booming production set a standard for the time, I think--and burning passion. Their blues influence insured that plenty of feeling was included as well amongst the aggression, and it set them apart. Glenn's fluid shredding and K.K.'s more savage style were good counterparts to each other and made their guitar duels all the more furious. Some of the best playing is on the title track, Glenn's moody and emotional intro to "Bloodstone" (total blues with chilling majesty), "Electric Eye" with its dramatic intro ("The Hellion") and galvanizing opening riff that any banger worthy of the name will jump up screaming in delight over, and also "Riding on the Wind" with its searing whammy bar vibrato and diving. Simply delicious! Ian Hill and Dave Holland make for a formidable rhythm tank thundering away for the two guitar gods to go wild over, rock solid and un-fuck-with-able. Hill is not a technical wizard on the bass front, but he is just what the band needs, a steady and reliable player who lays it down and makes certain things stay in place.

Songs, so many good ones on here! The only ones I really don't care for as much as the others are album closer "Devil's Child", as while it is good it's not as good as the rest of the album--it doesn't seem to really fit with its overtly AC/DC influenced riff in the beginning, and "Pain and Pleasure", which drags in comparison to the rest of the album. Otherwise, this album's selection of songs is amazing, positively incredible in its scope of powerful riffing and fantastic guitar and vocal wizardry; the title track alone will get your heart pounding and your blood pumping and your face turning beet red as you try and fail to hit that insane high note Halford hits and holds at the end as the song crashes into concert staple "You've Got Another Thing Comin'", which is deservedly a classic with its lyrics extolling living your life for yourself and not letting others tell you what to do--how metal is that? In a very positive manner, too, something you don't normally hear.

In short, anyone who considers themselves a headbanger at all must own this album or they are unworthy. It's that simple. It was one of my first really serious metal albums and still in my vinyl archives to this day.