Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

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

Privacy Policy

Speed After Speed - 95%

Chernobog, March 14th, 2014

Sometime back, during my quest to seek out the earlier works of Judas Priest, I had skipped over this album in favor of it's successor, "Stained Class". Which is disappointing, not only because this album is crucial (from the metal critic and historian's point of view) in seeing the transition Priest made to that album, but because this album immediately kicks your ass less than 10 seconds in, and continues to do so with minimal reprieve. Probably their heaviest album up to that point, "Sin After Sin" shows a band who is growing closer to discovering their identity as a band. The heavy songs are heavier, faster and more frenetic than before, and Rob Halford's voice soars over the songs, like an opera singer for a hellish orchestra.

Although every track has it's own highlights, there are a few tracks in particular that I feel deserve notice, since they show the musical progress Judas Priest has made, and since they continue to influence heavy metal to this day. Mid-way through the album, we are hit with "Let us Prey/Call for the Priest", which mixes the prog elements that we've come to expect from Priest's previous albums with the up tempo metal attack of the rest of the album, almost helping to invent the idea of prog metal. The song also contains a duel guitar solo that predates Iron Maiden's albums by three years. "Here Come the Tears" is one of two ballads on the album, but I mention this over the excellent "Last Rose of Summer" (a song with a watery guitar tone and soulful melody that sounds as if it could have influenced Pearl Jam, of all bands) because it grows closer to what Judas Priest would accomplish with "Beyond the Realms of Death" in terms of mixing melancholy with metal. Of course, there is "Dissident Aggressor", the epic finale of the album, where Rob's falsetto reaches unprecedented heights and the guitar attack sounds like a precursor to the thrash metal that dominated the 80s (no wonder Slayer covered it!). The closest thing to a "commercial" song on this album, even more so than "Last Rose of Summer" is the Joan Baez cover "Diamonds and Rust". With remarkably calm guitars and a rhythm line that brings Heart to mind, the song seems a prediction of Priest's more commercial work in the 80s, as well as much of the commercial metal in the 80s in general.

Although those songs deserve note because of the influence I feel they had on heavy metal (as well as rock in general), this isn't to discredit the rest of the album, especially the ripping opener "Sinner" that feels like the logical realization of the "Born to Be Wild" riff. I also can't help but pass up the hard rocking "Raw Deal" if mainly for the innuendo in the lyrics: "All eyes hit me as I walked into the bar/ Ad seeing other guys were fooling with the denim dudes". Though the reference to gay culture should now be blatant to anyone familiar with Judas Priest's career, it wouldn't have been as obvious then, when leather gay bars were still in the shadows of society, and such a reference would be an esoteric in joke. So I have to admire that, even when Rob Halford was "in the closet", he still left subtle hints to his sexuality with only a wink and smile to any possibly knowing fans (though the line "The true freedom of expression I demand is human rights" should have been a no brainer even then).

Released in 1977, the year punk rock was king, the speed of the songs on the album seem like Priest's answer to bands like the Sex Pistols, and some of the songs are still fast and heavy enough to go up against today's metal. The progressive elements feel better integrated into the album than their previous two efforts, and Judas Priest now have their own identity as a band separate from the rest of the crowd at the time.