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Sandwhiched - 92%

StainedClass95, July 15th, 2014

This album sits in-between Sad Wings of Destiny and Stained Class. I can count on one hand the albums more influential to metal. The number of albums better is similar in scarcity. Sin After Sin is not as great as those two, but it is still amongst the very best Priest ever mustered. Most of the contributors are in good form for this, the songwriting is pretty good, and there are some classics on here.

The guitarists on here are superb. The riffing on the non-ballads is very good. It does have a hard-rock vibe as often as not, but the songs themselves are pretty definitely metal. The soloing on here is worth noting. This is Priest's first album to have their high-end oriented sound, so their famous piercing, screaming guitar leads are on full-strength here. The solos on Sinner, Starbreaker, and Dissident Aggressor immediately come to mind. The first and last also showcase another aspect. Downing was the first metal guitarist to specialize in atonal whammy-abuse solos. Many hate this kind of soloing, but it is at least interesting to see it's origins.

The drumming, is one of Priest's first good ones. The session drummer, Simon Phillips, was very technical for the time. He shows good use of the double-bass for a drummer of this time period, and he has been cited by many metal drummers as inspirational. Due to prior commitments, he declined to join Priest, but his replacement was even better. Ian isn't really special on this one. I would say that this is the first Priest album where Ian isn't really contributing. He can be heard, barely, but he does much less of interest compared to Sad Wings.

Some have argued that this is Halford's best outing, and it is very possible. Halford's vocals in his prime were something. The range, vocal control, and consistency are pretty much the pinnacle for a clean metal vocalist. Dio and Dickinson can take him for power, but that is all. As far as rock vocalists go, Freddie Mercury and maybe Ian Gillan could match him. This is where Halford first really milked his lower pitch for an album, but there's still plenty of high notes. Lyrically, this is one of Priest's better albums. Sinner, Call For the Priest, and Dissident Aggressor would be well-written metal songs in any era.

I touched upon the production earlier, it is higher pitched. It was apparently state-of-the-art for the time. I don't feel that it serves the music very well. It's more fitting than the debut, but the adjacent albums used their weaker production to invoke very heavy atmospheres. This can't do that. Also, for being big, it's kind of thin at times. I'm not sure how, but it sounds like the studio just inflated the sound like a balloon. If they wanted it louder, I would have rather them simply double-tracked or something. One thing for it's atmosphere, it has a very Gothic feel. The mausoleum on the front and the very depressing songs give it a depressed feel at times. I would rather a heavy feel, but this is rather unique in their catalog.

All in all, this is a pretty good effort. This isn't as good as the adjoining masterpieces, or Painkiller later, but this is still better than their 80's albums. Nothing troughs as badly as Take These Chains, United, or the goofy duo that ends Defenders. This also contains much of Priest's 70's aura. It is hard to put into words, but there is an art to what Priest did around this time. They took the dull, thudding instrument that Sabbath had forged, and they forged it into a sharp-edged rapier. This feel doesn't get to shine as well here, but it is still unmistakable. This is recommended to all fans of early metal and hard-rock.