Greetings, Glancers! We’re back with our third Judas Priest album, and with this one it at least has one song I’m familiar with. The Title track is an obvious classic of the genre. I think my foray into the bonkers world of Ju-Pre, as they shall henceforth always be known, has been mostly positive. Having only known their big singles previously, they were maybe the most jarring gap in my classic Metal knowledge. I’m looking forward to this – I mean, look at the absolute state of this album cover:
What the holy hell is that? If it’s not the most Metal thing you’ve ever seen, I don’t know what to say. It could only be more Metal if that cyborg angel had massive breasts. I mean, this is Ju-Pre, so boobies might be a no-no. But just look at the ecstasy on the face of this future-medieval marauder. He’s just singlehandedly won Superbowl MMXXV, earning 14 Trillion Moon Credits, and found out that his mistress has given birth to solid gold triplets. To celebrate, like any sane freak would, he erupts into the atmosphere on his Harley-Dragonson, a motorcycle/wyvern hybrid so badass that even having a giant silver-plated scythe rotating at 96 mph in its mouth can’t slow it down. The exhaust appears to be a chrome-based swordfish, his cute little boots are all spiky, and the speed the machine is travelling at is fast enough to reduce the city below to a nuclear wasteland. I don’t even need to listen to the album now, my Metal quota for the year has been surpassed.
‘Painkiller’ is in many ways the quintessential Metal opening track and title track. I could even argue that, from an outsider perspective it’s the quintessential Metal song; It’s fast, loud, brash, obnoxious, not pleasant to listen to, and has thunderous, technically proficient instrumentation. It’s completely over the top and ridiculous in every way. It speeds up at various points, Rob’s screeching is almost unbearable, and there are guitar solos every couple of minutes. In short, it sounds like war. It’s why people who don’t like Metal will hate it, people who do like Metal will love it. It’s everything which the cover art promises. It’s also the only song on the album I was already familiar with, so I’ve no idea if the others have this energy or if they simply can’t compete. It’s a glorious six minutes which every Metal fan should hold dear, at the very least as a part of history even if you’re not a fan of the band.
‘Hell Patrol’ begins with a clattering Am I Evil introduction before settling into a series of metal clichés. It seems to be some sort of dedication to Metal in general – bands, fans, you get it. It’s lyrically very silly and is a prime example of what non-Metal fans think of when they accuse Metal of lacking intelligence. Outside of that intro, there isn’t much going for it musically. It’s still enjoyable – because I enjoy big chugging guitars and twiddly solos – but it’s by the numbers.
‘All Guns Bazing’ is more of the same. Fast paced, more amusing lyrics. In fact, this album as a whole is like you threw a pile of Metal buzzwords into a computer and it pumped out AI generated lyrics. Tasty solo in the middle, bit of a tempo change which gives the main riff a different flavour. It’s fun but not a stand out. The intro is hilarious though.
‘Leather Rebel’ feels like the band is trolling us at this point. I’m sure they’ve already mentioned leather several times by this point, but lets have another. More silly lyrics, but this one is a step up musically. It feels like they’ve put more thought in to make it melodic and as such it’s the best song since the opener.
‘Metal Meltdown’ opens with a Judas Priest version of Eruption, as every True Metal song should. An unusually repetitive vocal in the verse, the pre-chorus verges on unlistenable, and the chorus is Def Leppard style chanting shite. But, it’s fast, angry, and sometimes that’s enough.
‘Night Crawler’ succeeds because of a fairly catchy chorus and riff. The verses are good too, though very plain. You know the formula by now – silly lyrics, fast guitars, generally fun atmosphere. It goes off in more interesting off-shoots than most of the other songs – slower, whispered sections which are supposed to be scary or evocative of whatever a night crawler is. But those add a different musical slant, momentarily.
‘Between The Hammer And The Anvil’ has a breath in breath out guitar intro before it remembers that it should be fast and loud. Then it goes fast and loud. A more notable solo in the middle of it all.
‘A Touch Of Evil’ merges neatly with the previous song and is the one slower song on the album, and the one coming closest to a love song of sorts. It’s pretty good and doesn’t change the pace or intent or tone of the album. Due to its slower pace and solid melodies, it’s another standout.
‘Battle Hymn’ is a brief instrumental intro to the closing track. It’s good.
‘One Shot At Glory’ is the requisite epic closer. While the solos are as fast and furious as you would expect, the pace of the overall song isn’t as intense as most of the other tracks. It’s well layered though and they’ve clearly tried to make this one a more subtle bookend to the album than the opening track – equally long and reaching, but without the buck mental vibe.
It’s not big or clever, well, it is big. Fast too. But it isn’t clever. The title track deserves some better support – it’s like they threw everything they had at the title track then tacked on some other leftovers which are little more than ‘play fast and say words like marauders, night, and leather’. All that sounds very negative, but if you’re looking for a straightforward, no frills Metal album then you’ll get fewer better than this. There’s little irritating in there, there’s no nonsense, no ballads, no asides, and none of the songs go on too long. It’s stripped back, right down the middle, loud, fast, distorted Metal. Even as the individual songs aren’t stand-outs, they’re all a hell of a lot of fun, and consistently so. The title track is a ten, and everything else is a 6. It’s the most consistent Judas Priest album I’ve heard so far. It’s well worth a listen, but I suspect it’s only existing Metal fans who will enjoy it.
Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Painkiller. Touch Of Evil. Leather Rebel.