Deathknight of Metalandia
- Dec 2, 2019
- Reaction score
- Ottawa, Canada
Jeffatron reviews Metal albums
Judas Priest – Painkiller
Judas Priest – Painkiller
A bit of background:
This is part 1 of my metal album review threads. I have been listening to metal since I was about 12 years old. First metal album I bought was Master of Puppets, followed by a live Slayer album and Cannibal Corpse. I fell in love with all things metal. The aggression, the technical aspect, the dark lyrics, all of it.
I decided to start off with Judas Priest’s 1990 album Painkiller. It is the last album with Rob Halford on vocals (until he came back to the band years later). It’s also an extremely heavy album, much heavier than their previous popular albums like Screaming for Vengeance, which still had more of a hair metal/heavy rock sound (just think of songs like You’ve got another thing coming, as an example).
This album is what got me into Judas Priest in the first place as well, as I wrote them off previously in my youth. Boy was I wrong…
On that note, here we go! Hope you enjoy the review!
The album starts off with the title track, PainKiller. I’ll start off by saying this is my favorite Judas Priest song. Song begins with Scott Travis bashing on the drums furiously to a hellish pace. What a way to kick things off. Guitar slides in, and we are off. The main riff is absolutely face melting, staccato attack, aggressive, and just a fantastic tone. Rob comes in…
FASTER THAN A BULLET, TERRYFYING SCREAM!
Fucking awesome. The lyrics are still that ultra-cheese you love from Judas Priest. But man is Rob is just going ham on this track. He’s singing VERY high pitch and screaming. The energy is just bursting out of this song.
Chorus is a classic, nothing fancy, but effective and heavy as hell.
Now we get to the technical meat and potatoes. A nice riff is played to transition to the post-chorus, which then leads to a battle of solos. Glenn Tippet and K. K. Downing engage in what could only be described as a “Who’s got the bigger solo dick” contest, and man, it does not disappoint. We get almost 2 minutes of furious and relentless soloing, don’t hold the dive bombs! Worth mentioning that these aren’t just silly noodling solos. This is some intense, technical, wonderful toned solos that fit perfectly with the song. Great emotion too, hits me right in the feels. Back to verse 3! Rob comes back in more obnoxious than ever, “brought back from the Grrrrave”, Rob rolls his R as brutishly as possible here, and I fucking love it every time. One more chorus and slower outro, where Rob hold a note forever, which is also phenomenal. Wow. What a way to start an album, this is how you get the head banging right off the get go! Long track by the way, runs over 6 minutes of pure neck breaking madness.
Onto more songs!
2 – Hell Patrol
So, my first thought when moving to the next song is, how are they going to follow up that face melting balls to the wall opening track. It would be very difficult to have a song that is as fast or heavy, as the sheer speed and intensity of PainKiller is very hard, if not impossible to match.
They pleasantly surprise me here. Instead of going super soft or super heavy, they go with a metal anthem type of song. Great choice, and it flows in very nicely transition wise. Track is called Hell Patrol, and it very much feels that way. The main riff is slower but still with a good pace, really making it feel like a slow death march in tempo. I really like this song, just a good light head bang tune, talks about glory and such (which is a recurring theme on the album). Not much in terms of technical prowess guitar or drums wise, but Rob is on fucking point again, hitting some high ass notes. Great tune.
3- All Guns Blazing
I sense a theme going on here, batman…. A good short tune. Song is obviously about going in headstrong and not giving a fuck. This is not really my favorite track, but it’s still solid. Good solos midway, with a really fun solo. Other than that, it’s on the cheesier, shorter side of things, nothing super special about it.
4 – Leather Rebel
I really like this song. It’s more of a throwback to older school Judas. VERY CHEESY LYRICS ALERT! This song, to me, screams Rob Halford and how he may truly have felt inside at the time. For those who don’t know, Rob is a homosexual, and at the time, was nowhere near coming out (he came out in 1998 live on MTV, breaking down crying happily). When you look at the theme and lyrics of this song, you can kind of tell this song is about him. The leather, the motorcycles, the rebel attitude, to me, all feel like he’s really talking about himself without outing himself publicly. I could easily be wrong, but that’s really what resonates with me here.
Back on track. The song once again starts with some great drum work, and the double bass awesomeness continues through the whole song. Rob isn’t singing as high here either, as mentioned, more on the rock side of things. Good verse, CATCHY AS FUCK CHORUS!
LEATHER REBEL! LIGHTNING IN THE DARRRRRRK!
(told you it was cheese-o-matic)
This is followed by a fantastic transitional riff with some great back and forth solos and harmonies. Then back to pre-chorus and chorus for the end. Short track, but it’s just great. Probably 2nd or 3rd favorite on the album!
5– Metal Meltdown
Last song on Side A. Here comes another banger/metal anthem type of song. Kicks off with Glenn doing a dirty solo with lots of feedback. Solo dies down, then main riff kicks in. This song is as heavy as elephant balls, Hesus Christo!
Here’s the chorus:
HERE COMES THE METAL MELTDOWN!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES
CANT STOP THE MELTDOWN! NO ONE SURVIVES!
Fucking lol. More cheese, and I absolutely love it.
Not much more to say other than it’s a great cheesy, balls to the wall metal anthem. I’d rate it less good then Hell Patrol, though. That being said, great way to end side A. Same way as the it started, with some furious riffing and headbanging. I will add the post-solo riff/transition is one of my favorites on the album, has some very strange harmonies that are not typical, really cool!
END OF SIDE A – That was a lot of headbanging and solos!
6 – Night Crawler
Side B starts very differently than Side A. Instead of going for a face melting approach, they go with a more traditional Judas type song. This song is a very simple, verse/chorus/verse type of song. Some good licks here and there, but overall, I personally don’t find it super interesting. It’s not a bad song by any means, but it’s just…a song? The theme fits well lyrically, still going about strange forces in the night trying to rise. Probably one of my least favorite tracks on the album though. As I’m listening to it, one positive thing I will say is that Rob’s vocals are smooth as fuck.
7 – Between the hammer and the anvil
The cheesiness of Side B continues here, for better or worse. I really like this song though. Starts off with some big power chords that they hold onto for what seems like forever. Quick drum lick and we’re banging out of nowhere. The tempo on here isn’t too fast, but it’s quite good. Solid guitar. Song seems to talk about being stuck between a rock and hard place. Again, I’m getting Rob personal vibes here. I can make the correlation to where he was in his life at the time, struggling with his homosexuality. Again, I may be way off, but I find this album specifically has a lot of subliminal messages/theme that make me think of him. Sad stuff in a way, but that was early 90s for you…
Man, the solos in this song…wow. Nice tapping solo near the end that’s just juicy and sexy. Makes me every time.
8 – A Touch of Evil
I mentioned Side B was softer and cheesier yes? Well, here’s the embodiment of that. We’re finally here. THE METAL BALLAD track has arrived. And man, it delivers what it promises.
A church bell is ringing, a violin is playing…a slow slogging guitar riff begins, and it never gets much faster than that. This song is about a man being haunted by a male evil presence, and how he can’t resist his touch of evil. Rousing desires, being put in a trance, etc… Again, getting some Rob gay vibes here. I have a strong suspicion this is essentially a coming out song from my POV. All subjective obviously, but this really does feel like an early come-out album for Rob. Especially that he left the band abruptly shortly after. I should probably research this more! Good cheeseball slow song though if that’s your thing! Not my jam per se but still an objectively great song.
9/10 – Battle Hymn/One Shot at Glory
Battle Hymn is an instrumental intro to One Shot at Glory, not much to be said really. Has some hymns in the back (duh) and some fun little guitar riff. Not much to be said about it.
One Shot at Glory is equal to PainKiller for top track. I have a bias here, I used to actually jam this song with my band, and it was…glorious .
First off, this is a long ass song (8 minutes if you include Battle Hymn). It’s also a much slower riff song, while still retaining heaviness. One of the reasons I love it is that it is still very technical regardless of being slower tempo. Especially in the transitional department. Verse is pretty standard, nothing too special, outside of some VERY HIGH-PITCHED Rob singing near the end of the verses, dude just kills it. Only person I know that can match Maiden…Chorus is actually nothing super special either, but it’s very catchy. Where the song shines is really after the first 2 choruses. There’s a really fun lick that transforms into a transitional riff, which leads to the pre-solo riff. All seamless and greatly written. The solo, as usual, WOW. These guys are just absolute pros and geniuses at writing these, they fit so fucking well. Lots of techniques are showed off, without coming off obnoxious or showboaty. Best part though, post solo harmony. Gleen and KK do this really weird dueling harmony riff here, but not in a traditional way at all. This isn’t the same riff 5 notes apart for the easy harmony. This is two very different riffs played on two guitars that match in tempo, and it sounds absolutely strange and amazing. Me and my bandmate had a hell of a time playing and learning it as well. It’s by far my favorite riff of the entire album, just because it’s so damn technical and masterfully executed. *deep breaths Jeff, calm down*
Song ends with one more chorus and a super long Rob scream, and some outro solos. End of Album.
I feel anyone who loves british metal should give this album a listen, as it’s a quintessential listen. You have to also compare to that time, which was an absolute monster time for metal in the mainstream (Metallica’s Black Album would come out in 1991, and Megadeth’s Rust in Peace came out in 1990 as well, both considered masterpieces I nthe metal community). I also think this album doesn’t get enough love, most likely due to the other monster albums that came out in those 2 years, which is a shame. I highly recommend this album, if only to at least see the massive change of direction Judas Priest took in terms of heaviness and appeal. They really step away from radio tracks you may have heard from previous albums and produced a straight up, no nonsense METAL album.
Hope this review was fun and helpful for anyone reading it! Feel free to send me suggestions in the pinned intro thread!
HORNS UP! HAIR DOWN! MAY YOUR NECKS BE SORE!