Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Glorious whether on impulse power or warp speed. - 94%

hells_unicorn, November 4th, 2011

The brief period of the early 80s, just before thrash metal began to rage out of New York and California, was an interesting one. For many bands hailing from Britain, Germany and The States it was a time of discovering a newer, faster, harder edged style that paved the way for heavy metal's faster and uglier cousin as exemplified in the early works of the Big 4 and a few others. But for the likes of Judas Priest, a band that had wandered into the early workings of speed metal a few years prior, it was a time of soul searching. In essence, they were trying to figure out whether they were going to take a step back to their rock roots or to fully embrace the ongoing heavy metal experiment that the NWOBHM was ushering in. 1981's "Point Of Entry" exemplified the former path, while the powerful beast that is "Screaming For Vengeance" takes something much closer to the latter path.

While I was not outwardly hostile to the catchy yet restrained character of "Point Of Entry", the heavily energized and aggressive tendencies of this album are more to my liking, and most of the metal faithful tend to agree. While the underlying riff set still retains a heavily bluesy character and the formula is still quite straightforward, the attitude is much less celebratory and much more hard edged. In fact, this album stands as the closest that Priest has ever gotten to sounding like a NWOBHM band, particularly that of the parallel early days of Dickinson era Iron Maiden. Whether it be the melodic contours of the riveting opening duo "The Hellion" and "Electric Eye", or the strong resemblance to the speedy and busy guitar and drum work of Maiden's "Invaders" with an even more pervasive air-raid siren in the towering title song.

Be all of this as it may, the earlier rock sensibilities and simplicity of the past couple of albums are still very strong, and actually better accomplished due to a crunchier guitar edge. The catchy arena favorites that walk the line between Accept and AC/DC in "You've Got Another Thing Coming" and "Bloodstone" definitely steel much of the attention, though the wickedly grooving "Devil's Child" holds its own, all of them featuring Halford's versatility both as a standard singer and screamer. But the real essence of what makes this an outstanding album is captured in the somewhat underrated "Riding On The Wind", which basically distills all of the strongest elements of "Heading Out To The Highway" and ups the ante in the tempo and vocal department. In typical yet not so typical fashion, the solos tantalize, the choruses entrance, and Ian Hill's bass work proves that AC/DC doesn't have a monopoly on making their bottom end do the bare minimum and still carrying some relevance to the arrangement.

The charms carried by each individual Judas Priest album are unique, and amongst the various masterpieces and lesser works of the 80s, this one has the edge in terms of the total package. It's a bit more versatile than "Defenders Of The Faith", a bit less happy-go-lucky than what came after, and is not quite as archaically produced as "British Steel". The beginnings of what ultimately becomes the Sci-Fi oriented tendencies of their 80s tenure take shape here with a few occasional studio gimmicks, but the real meat of this thing is still in the guitars and the vocals, though Dave Holland makes a decent racket on the kit as well. Song for song, it's a consistent ride from point A to point B with a fair share of twists and turns, all of them working well, even in the slower ballad department, which generally tend to be the band's weak spot and linkage to the glamish side of 80s rock. If nothing else, it proves that versatility is not a bad thing when approached with an eye for consistency.