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At least this one has a great full album side - 73%

TrooperEd, May 18th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2001, CD, Columbia Records (Reissue, Remastered)

Side B to be precise.

I know I'm in the minority on this, but I think this album turned out better than Sad Wings of Destiny did. A year or so of touring and rehearsing allowed the band to temper their British steel a bit further. Just in time for a record deal with CBS and a production job from Deep Purple's own Roger Glover! The tones and execution have slightly more punch to them...but not quite enough (Raw Deal with Stained Class or British Steel's production would have been a Joker pencil-through-the-eye slammer).

Before we go any further, we need to talk about the entity that is not only this album's secret weapon, but the key component in the development of thrash and speed metal drumming: Simon Phillips. I love Les Binks, I truly do, but it is Phillips Keith Moon-meets Billy Cobham assault alone that made the ears of Slayer, Metallica, Helloween (possibly even Motorhead) and other delinquents perk up and declare "good lord is he doing a double time bass lick under that [Let Us Prey] rhythm? At that speed?!" He has much more tricks up his sleeves than that, kids. Dissident Aggressor is legendary for many reasons: the most insane Rob Halford vocal performance up to that point, KK's equally insane guitar solo, but its Phillips' fills and attack that pushes this into the "practically thrash before thrash" innovation category. When Slayer covered this song, some minute liberties were taken here and there for obvious reasons, but Lombardo copied Phillips' performance to a tee, as he should have.

Three songs from here would make Unleashed In The East, and their performances here would hold up slightly better than the Sad Wings of Destiny studio tracks. Sinner being the best one, the one I can listen to both studio and live. KK Downing's little jam in the middle being what truly brings the titular creature/character to life. Diamonds & Rust is merely acceptable here, which is more than I can say for Starbreaker. I was expecting a brilliant fade-in of that glorious extra-terrestrial feedback and I get....Living After Midnight's opening? And are those handclaps? The fuck is going on here? Did I slip through a crack in time to the British Steel sessions where the band is telling Tom Allom those ideas of his are way too pop? Here I was hoping to find a version of this song without that minute long drum solo!

There are two ballads to be found here, Last Rose of Summer and Here Come The Tears. I used to love the former, and I might still love it if that "repeat til fadeout" of the title wasn't half the fucking track length. If you're gonna repeat a phrase ad naseum, at least make it sound sensical. Here Come The Tears might seem a little more of that at first, with its slightly wimpy title, but then around 1:58 comes the musical equivalent of Jack Nicholson whacking that black guy in the chest with an axe in The Shining. Perhaps this is where where Nightwish got the idea for Deep Silent Complete. Despite going from 0-100 real quick, it's a very natural heavy buildup, with a compelling sense of melody. It's a shame this one kind of fell through the cracks and was never played live. Hell the Turbo tour would have been a great spot for it!

It's also a goddamn shame Jack Bruce stole Simon Phillips for his go-nowhere solo career. I have great respect for Les Binks, but just imagine how much further Phillips could have innovated metal and pushed Priest forward just by playing like he always did. Not to mention the possibility that if its true Binks couldn't really cut it live, we could have had Phillips' sensibilities for British Steel and the 80s years! True, we would have lost Beyond The Realms of Death to beyond the realms of death, but Priest already had two solid ballads under their belt at this point, and lets not bullshit each other, the lack thereof would have saved them millions of dollars and bad publicity in lawsuits....but then they might not have had the fire lit under their asses to make Painkiller....ARGH, INNER TURMOIL!

Sin After Sin is essential if you are a drummer, but is more mid tier in terms of Priest albums to buy. Still very much rough around the edges, but when you drop the needle on Call For The Priest your furniture is in for one hell of a walloping.