Rating:
9.2
Judas Priest - Painkiller
3 September 1990


01. Painkiller
02. Hell Patrol
03. All Guns Blazing
04. Leather Rebel
05. Metal Meltdown
06. Night Crawler
07. Between The Hammer & The Anvil
08. A Touch Of Evil
09. Battle Hymn
10. One Shot At Glory

2001 re-release bonus tracks:
11. Living Bad Dreams [Recorded during the 1990 Painkiller sessions]
12. Leather Rebel [Live at Foundation's Forum, Los Angeles, California, USA in 13 September 1990]


The year is 1990 and after 2-3 softer releases like Turbo or Ram it down, Rob Halford, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill and new drummer Scott Travis (the five members of Judas Priest) decide to do something so brutal, even by death metal standards of the day. It's so heavy, so fast and shredding, yet so catchy and melodic that no-one has ever heard anything like it before.

The drumwork is so brutal on the title track you'd think Scott had to change a few drum kits to pull off this song in recording, the same as on most songs, but nothing comes close to his work on this song. But for the fans of "softer" drumwork, there is Hell Patrol or All Guns Blazing. No need to worry, softer drumming doesn't mean softer songs altogether. While Hell Patrol isn't a brutal thrash masterpiece, it's quite memorable and extremely catchy, and All Guns Blazing...well...you should listen to "Turbo Lover" and then to this song, and you'd kill yourself before thinking it's the same band. Softer drumwork is also present throughout the rest of the album, except for Metal Meltdown, with its good blast beats and Leather Rebel, where the bass drum really hammers the rhythm.

As far as guitar work is concerned the tremolo picked riffs and the extreme solos (like the intro to Metal Meltdown, which I think even Yngwie Malmsteen would be envious of) are extremely well done. There really is no weak point in this album for the guitars. KK Downing and Glenn Tipton really are at their best here; the doubling of the vocals in the classic heavy metal style is truly wonderful. Well that's it for extreme solos and tremolo picked riffs, and there has to be a place for haunting clean arpeggios, like in night crawler's intro (that then explodes in a monstrous riff creating what possibly is the best song on this album) with a fantastically evil and haunting interlude, accompanied by the marrow chilling spoken part.

Which gets me to the vocals which sound so good with the demonic screaming and midrange power you'll think it's someone who does the screaming and someone else who does the power-vocals, but it's the Metal God...Rob Halford, who has his best vocal performance on this album (and that's saying a lot). From all-round songs with him screaming higher than physically possible (title track, All Guns Blazing, and a little milder screams on A Touch of Evil) to the power of, quite frankly all of the songs except Battle Hymn. I am telling you, this man has the most unbelievable lungs out there.

The lyrics are either stupid (Painkiller, Hell Patrol, Metal Meltdown), anthemic (All Guns Blazing, Leather Rebel), or average (Nightcrawler, One Shot at Glory). But the stupid lyrics are there just to give Rob something to scream about, literally, and you'd be headbanging too hard for the lyrics to matter that much.

I have only described the first 6 songs, and for good reason. They are so brutal, melodic and catchy that they surpass everything ever created before. The next 3 songs (excluding Battle Hymn, which is just an interlude) are more in the vein of classic Priest, except maybe for A Touch Of Evil, which although still has a bit of a Beyond the Realms of Death feeling. Although much much heavier and with keyboards it actually sounds very good, and all in all, is a mixed bag; like I said classic + a touch of experimental. The last track is a wonderful anthem in the usual Priest style, only a bit better and with the wonderful pounding mixed with screaming pinch harmonics.

The last track ends with such a feeling of wanting to bang your head and turn the volume up to 100 and the distortion up to 14, you're not likely to resist it. This is in my opinion, the best Priest album, and for good reason. There are almost no weak points here, and if I'd make a list of the best 10 metal albums of all time, I'd die if I didn't include this one.

Still, only one album deserves a perfect 10, and I've yet to find that album; the one who encompasses everything that metal is about and never stops you from headbanging, a thing which, I'm sorry to say, Painkiller does, although not in a bad way at all. So, 9.5 from me.

Performance: 10
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Production: 9


Band profile: Judas Priest
Album: Painkiller


 


written by Valentin B | 02.11.2006


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Staff review by
Pierre Tombale

Rating:
10
The most wicked, crass, screaming guitars, heaviestů album in Judas Priest's discography with Rob Halford. There are simply not enough attributes to describe it. To many if not most of the fans say it's the best album they ever recorded. For me, it's the second best (pointing at the Screaming For Vengeance review). Of course, this is a perfect production, incredible songwriting, a brand new sound you would not have imagined before 1990, but everybody can have his own view on that.

Read more ››
published 20.12.2003 | Comments (55)



Comments

‹‹ Back to the Reviews
Comments: 30  
Users visited: 172  
Search this topic:  


Katatronik - 02.11.2006 at 15:27  
good review, although I'd give a 10 also in songwriting!
this is an indispensable album, their best...
Valentin B - 02.11.2006 at 15:32  
thanks!but let's face it, this album has a flaw, namely the lyrics
Marcel Hubregtse - 02.11.2006 at 15:44  
Written by Valentin B on 02.11.2006 at 15:32

thanks!but let's face it, this album has a flaw, namely the lyrics


True, but then again Judas Priest's lyrics are 90% shit anyway. One of the worst bands around lyricwise if you ask me. But then again I don't give a shit about lyrics usually.
Talvi - 20.11.2006 at 01:13  
Good album, but for me, it gets old too son. I'd give it a similar rating, or a bit lower. For the speed metal masterpiece, check Walls Of Jericho
ThunderAxe1989 - 27.11.2006 at 02:14  
Written by Talvi on 20.11.2006 at 01:13

Good album, but for me, it gets old too son. I'd give it a similar rating, or a bit lower. For the speed metal masterpiece, check Walls Of Jericho


I strongly agree

"Painkiller" has some killer songs on it, but Priest have released better.
Dangerboner - 18.01.2007 at 02:02  
Dear "Bury Your Dead",

Please listen to Metal Meltdown in order to understand how to do a breakdown.

Sincerely,

pyroleprechaun
HeathenBlood - 18.01.2007 at 04:53  
Its one of the best album I've got...Great job By Priest!!
A touch of evil is a killer one!!
Xtreme Jax - 18.01.2007 at 05:23  
This is a very good album, not my favourite Judas Priest release but certainly up there. And yeah as said the lyrics aren't all that flash, but with the excellent guitar work and solos I dont seem to notice. Often find myself singing along
Valentin B - 18.01.2007 at 14:01  
@jax: you're nuts man... how can you sing along to all guns blazing?(assuming you at least TRY to hit the notes)
Valentin B - 03.05.2007 at 11:53  
honestly i can't stop ranting about this album. everytime i listen to the first 1 and a half minutes of the title track i think "how the fuck can something sound so completely over the top brutal yet so catchy???"

i can only imagine the surprised look on your typical priest fan's face when he got the album back in 1990 and popped it in.. "this new drummer's tight...where the fuck did this guitar tone come from?? oh fuck yeah!!! faster than a bullet!! terrifying scream!!.." still one of my favourite all-time albums..hail the priests!
DigitalGrind - 23.09.2007 at 17:23  
One of the best Judas Priest albums,and the first one i got ,i was on a fuckin Judas Priest concert i was in front and i got a Glenn's Tipton fuckin guitar pick,it was the best fuckin gig ever hail to them...:metal:
Infurnace - 23.09.2007 at 17:29  
I'm not into Judas Priest at all, but I must say I really like this album. It surely is great.
Metalbound7 - 19.12.2007 at 06:00  
one of the best albums in metal
220volt - 20.12.2007 at 00:40  
Good review. I would give it 9 out of ten. It's a hair short of a masterpiece just because of the kind of cheesy lyrics.

Also, I don't agree with Marcel H. that all Priest's lyrics are shit. Just listen to their 70's stuff and tell me if that does not fulfill any intellectual fantasy.
Kallis Helmi - 04.02.2008 at 14:11  
Well, it's one of JP's best albums! The most powerful and speedy! o/
But IMO stop voting "1" for Painkiller! It's not fair... MS, check it! I don't mind a lot, but it's really not fair...
BloodTears - 05.02.2008 at 20:18  
Well I love this album. All the songs are good I think, pure power and heaviness, and that voice... yes!

Judas are kings even though I don't pay as much attention to them as I probably should.

Great listen.
Son of Odin - 06.02.2008 at 06:08  
Its not my favourite album with Priest but Painkiller is totally awesome, one classic metal album.
Slyfang - 04.06.2008 at 00:44  
the king of all heavy metal albums
BoxCar Willy - 23.11.2009 at 19:56  
Written by Slyfang on 04.06.2008 at 00:44

the king of all heavy metal albums

not the king of all metal albums there are ride the lightning and rust in peace
Slyfang - 24.11.2009 at 02:33  
Written by BoxCar Willy on 23.11.2009 at 19:56

Written by Slyfang on 04.06.2008 at 00:44

the king of all heavy metal albums

not the king of all metal albums there are ride the lightning and rust in peace


no, those are the kings of thrash metal albums


there is no best 'metal' album, because metal is too diverse
BoxCar Willy - 24.11.2009 at 17:26  
True
Oaken - 02.09.2012 at 17:32  
THE metal album IMO. I totally agree with the review about the point that Painkiller manages to be both brutal and catchy at the same time.
A timeless classic.
Daniell - 18.10.2013 at 10:10  
Quote:
something so brutal, even by death metal standards of the day. It's so heavy, so fast and shredding, yet so catchy and melodic that no-one has ever heard anything like it before.


This always cracks me up, whenever I see this review
Marcel Hubregtse - 18.10.2013 at 12:47  
Written by Daniell on 18.10.2013 at 10:10

Quote:
something so brutal, even by death metal standards of the day. It's so heavy, so fast and shredding, yet so catchy and melodic that no-one has ever heard anything like it before.


This always cracks me up, whenever I see this review


where did you read that about Painkiller?
If it is about Painkiller it is indeed hilarious Because is it's all so far off the mark it's not even funny.
Daniell - 18.10.2013 at 15:06  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 18.10.2013 at 12:47

where did you read that about Painkiller?
If it is about Painkiller it is indeed hilarious Because is it's all so far off the mark it's not even funny.


It's taken from the first paragraph of this review
Marcel Hubregtse - 18.10.2013 at 15:13  
Written by Daniell on 18.10.2013 at 15:06

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 18.10.2013 at 12:47

where did you read that about Painkiller?
If it is about Painkiller it is indeed hilarious Because is it's all so far off the mark it's not even funny.


It's taken from the first paragraph of this review



Damn, I am still totally asleep after waking up it seems. That's my fourth fuck-up today already Indeed it is from the first paragraph. Well, it's a load of bullshit that was written there on all counts.
Lord_Regnier - 19.10.2013 at 01:14  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 18.10.2013 at 12:47

Written by Daniell on 18.10.2013 at 10:10

Quote:
something so brutal, even by death metal standards of the day. It's so heavy, so fast and shredding, yet so catchy and melodic that no-one has ever heard anything like it before.


This always cracks me up, whenever I see this review


where did you read that about Painkiller?
If it is about Painkiller it is indeed hilarious Because is it's all so far off the mark it's not even funny.


Indeed, this comment is hilariously wrong. Comparing Painkiller to Death Metal in terms of speed, brutality and heaviness is ridiculous, even Death Metal of that time. Just look at what Bolt Thrower did back then (I could find many other examples).
And Thrash had already reached a point far ahead of Painkiller as for speed, brutality, heaviness, etc (Slayer, Kreator, etc).
Even in terms of "melodic Speed Metal", Helloween's "Walls Of Jericho" came before Painkiller and was more extreme than it.

And did you read the next paragraph about drums?
Brutal drumming? Come on, it's fast at times but nothing extreme compared to standard Death or Black Metal drumming.
Blastbeats? What the fuck? There is not a single blasting section on the entire album, only fast standard drumming.
Angelic Storm - 19.10.2013 at 05:31  
"Painkiller" is about as heavy as it's possible for traditional heavy metal to get, but comparing it to death metal or even thrash metal in terms of speed and brutality is just ridiculous...
Valentin B - 22.10.2013 at 15:44  
Haha, I was 16 when I wrote this and extremely impressed with the album, so gimme a break guys
Marcel Hubregtse - 22.10.2013 at 16:21  
Written by Valentin B on 22.10.2013 at 15:44

Haha, I was 16 when I wrote this and extremely impressed with the album, so gimme a break guys


NO, I WON'T

Advertise on Metal Storm


Login or register to post here.



Similar topics

Forum Topic Similarity Started
Reviews Judas Priest - Unleashed In The East 7.5 06.01.2008 by Marcel Hubregtse
Reviews Judas Priest - Painkiller 7 19.09.2006 by
Albums Judas Priest - Painkiller 6 01.02.2010 by
Reviews Judas Priest - Jugulator 5.5 17.09.2006 by Baz Anderson
Albums Judas Priest - Rising In The East [DVD] 4.5 10.04.2010 by fosi



Hits total: 11345 | This month: 70