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The only Judas Priest album everyone should own... - 95%

ac196nataku, September 3rd, 2007

...but when I say "everyone" I mean EVERYONE.


First off, I'm not the world's biggest Priest fan. Okay, honestly, I don't even understand how they have so many fanboys. Sure, the 70's material is largely classic and they are one of the progenitors of the classic metal sound, but they are really fucking hit or miss otherwise in my book.

But anyway, there's three main reasons why this album owns so hard.

1) Other Judas Priest offerings pale in comparison consistency-wise. Judas Priest, more than any other band, do not really have a signature sound. Sure, there's Halford's vox, and you could argue that you could listen to a song and know it's Priest. But if I just said to you "Hey want to listen to some Priest?" would you know what to expect? There's 70's hard rock, 70's/80's proto-thrash, slow piano/power ballads, cliché 80's happy/party "metal", the whole 80's Turbo sound, the whole (different) 80's Painkiller sound, the whole 90's Ripper-era sound, etc. It's all over the place. You can't honestly expect someone to enjoy every Priest song. But this album has a distinct consistent sound from track one to track thirteen (get the remaster!).

2) The production annihilates, especially for 1979. This is sort of related to point one because the classic 70's trilogy of Sad Wings, Sin After Sin, and Stained Class suffer from a somewhat bland production. The guitars here are fucking present and accounted for and delivering a fucking metal assault. The bass is audible, something that is unfortunately quite rare in the metal world. The drums maybe have room for improvement by today's standards (you won’t hear any crisp ear-annihilating double bass fills like the intro to Painkiller) but when you remember both the year (1979) and the original studio albums, you'll be fucking satisfied. Finally, Halford is Halford, love it or hate it. He has a great performance, no issues with him. Production is usually why live albums suck, but in this case, it is perhaps the greatest reason to purchase

3) The setlist (given the available catalog) owns.
Sad Wings – The Ripper, Tyrant, Genocide, Victim of Changes
Sin After Sin – Sinner, Diamonds and Rust, Starbreaker
Stained Class – Exciter
Killing Machine – Delivering the Goods, Rock Forever, Hell Bent for Leather, The Green Manalishi, Running Wild
Perhaps too much Killing Machine, but it was the album they were supporting at the time. My only gripes are the lack of Dissident Aggressor, Call for the Priest, or Stained Class. And maybe Rock Forever isn't the greatest track in the world. But they are minor gripes really. This set owns. It's an hour long already.

All three of these factors come together, and you just have to realize why this is essential. Every song is just so much better here than on the studio version. Diamonds and Rust, a song I otherwise either borderline despise, is amazing here as it becomes another typical 70's Priest proto-thrash tune. Really, the whole proto-thrash feel is prevalent here and perhaps that's why I love this record so much.

But really, why are you reading these reviews. This is a record EVERYONE should own. I don't care what kind of music you like. EVERYONE needs to listen to this at least once.