The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Judas Priest – Painkiller
Whether you’re a fan of metal/rock or not, everyone knows this next band, and reason for that is just, as Judas Priest is a band of legendary status. From their inception back in 1970, Judas Priest have released a total of 16 full-length albums with varying line-ups between all of them. While recent albums are not much to boast about, most of their earlier endeavors are quality albums, such as Sad Wings of Destiny, Stained Class, British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance and Defenders of the Faith. But if I had to choose a Priest album out of all of them, one easily comes to mind, an album that is balls to the wall metal from beginning to end… Painkiller.
A little over twenty years have passed since Painkiller was released, and not once does it show it’s age. This album could have been released today and metal heads would easily lose their minds over it. Speed, power and even a tad bit of thrash resinates on Painkiller, making this one of those classic albums you always recommend to any fan of heavy metal. Before you even hear the music, you get a glimpse of what this album is about when you feast your eyes on the cover. This is classic metal album art, showcasing a winged, metalloid demon riding a flying, draconic motorcycle with lethal buzz-saw wheels, and roaring through the sky over a city that is being overcome by volcanic activity (pretty damn metal). This is the kind of album art worthy of being printed on the back of a dingy denim jacket.
I can’t begin to emphasize the word “speed”, it’s the core of Painkiller. Both guitarists, K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton are machines on this album, providing riffs upon glorious riffs, ranging from fast and melodic, and other times switching to a more mid-paced flow. Dueling guitar solos demand the listeners attention, with both guitarists trading off lead and rhythm duties, and doing a damn fine job of working off one another meshing structure along with chaos. Even better and just as memorable as the guitars is the vocal work of Rob Halford. Among the greats such as Dio, Dickinson and King Diamond, Halford is one of the top vocalists in rock/metal. The screams and wails that spew forth from him on this album is beyond amazing. Halford’s mindset on this album seems to be set to rage as he unleashes hell throughout the whole album. Easily the finest moments of the album come from the intense riffing combined with Halford’s vocals, they are what make Painkiller an energetic speed metal masterpiece.
It’s hard to pick a favorite track off this album as they’re all great, but some of the more standout tracks would have to be the heavy/intense title track, “Painkiller” (which you can hear below), the unrelenting “Hell Patrol” (love the scream from 2:56 to 2:58), the energetic “Leather Rebel”, the speed-laden fury of “Metal Metldown”, the pulse pounding “Night Crawler” and the mid-paced and dark “Between the Hammer and the Anvil”. Painkiller as a whole works on all levels, and one can easily listen to the album all the way through and not fall victim to boredom. Hell, this album got me through a lot of 4 hour (sometimes more) computer lab classes when I was attending Full Sail.
Painkiller is an album that lead other bands, mainly power/speed metal, to follow in it’s footsteps, but no one has yet to recreate the intense riffing and unforgettable leads that are found in Painkiller. It’s a classic, no doubt about it, and if you’ve yet to listen to it, then please do yourself a favor and check this album out. You know the album is great when the legendary band Death features a cover of “Painkiller” on their album The Sound Of Perseverance.
I know it’s never going to happen, but if Judas Priest released another album of Painkiller caliber, I would be a very happy metal head. And although there are brief snippets of this sound heard on their 2005 album Angel of Retribution, Painkiller is a one of kind metal album that will never be replicated or replaced.
Pain! Pain! Killer! Killer!!!!!
Judas Priest – “Painkiller”