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The End of a Brilliant Era - 94%

ballcrushingmetal, March 15th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1978, 12" vinyl, Columbia Records

After a quite notorious turnaround from the energetic and aggressive sound in "Sad Wings" to the progressive direction taken for the next release, the band decided to move their musical direction towards a more accessible sound for the different audiences (especially in the U.S.) they tried to reach. As such, they were not interested in listening to quite complex and lengthy songs (regardless of their brilliance), while making their music more radio-friendly. And along with all the complexity of their compositions, they gradually said goodbye to all their hippie imagery and all those musical influences from Zeppelin.

Notwithstanding all these changes, the band did not sell their souls as much as Sabbath was doing at that time when they played low-quality AOR. Rather, they kept the heaviness that characterized them since the beginning and simply as innovative as in their previous releases. Said innovation was blatant from the start with the influential speed metal opener "Exciter". The intense drumming and the guitar riffs featured in the song were something new for this music, and even more innovation resulted in the melodic neoclassical notes played during the solo. Furthermore, the song seems to be the answer for those who wonder the blueprint on which "Painkiller" had been building.

Afterward, the album runs in a slower fashion, but there are still many outstanding numbers that somehow keep the intensity of this track. "White Heat, Red Hot" is a perfect example. Although a little bit slower than the previous song, it is still running in a fast fashion, and during its chorus, Halford seems to sing "Am I Evil?" rather than the chorus of the song. Clearly, this comparison explains pretty much how the song influenced many bands, starting with Diamond Head and its well-known hit, as well as many other thrash bands around. "Savage" and "Saints in Hell", a couple of underrated numbers also provided several ideas for the way forward. Both songs have interesting riffs that surrounded the thrash metal vibe and are references on how the band would develop their sound going forward.

Another remarkable change is the fact that the band returned to their old songwriting techniques for their ballad "Beyond the Realms of Death," which is however much more aggressive than any other in their catalog. Jumping from soft lines to the mid-paced choruses and bridges, it seems to highlight the guitar playing of Tipton and Downing, as well as, the Halford's powerful vocals. On the other hand, some of the songs above appear at their best in "Unleashed in the East" due to the energy injected by the audience and the band members themselves, which is completely different to the dark atmosphere featured in this album. That said, this album represented the end of an era since afterward, the band would not be the same, and their way forward would have some memorable moments and other forgettable works (sadly, the most).