Judas Priest- Painkiller

Judas Priest- Painkiller

19.99

At the dawn of the '90s, Judas Priest were in sad shape: out of touch, seemingly creatively bankrupt, coming off the two worst albums of their career, and left for dead by many observers. Trying to right the ship, Priest jettisoned longtime producer Tom Allom and his tinny '80s sound, as well as the serviceable groove drumming of Dave Holland, and brought in veteran metal producer Chris Tsangarides and onetime Racer X skinsman Scott Travis. Most importantly, though, Priest stopped trying to be a stadium act in the midst of hair metal's heyday. All those changes come into sharp focus as soon as the title cut of Painkiller starts -- Travis' thunderous (and crisp-sounding) percussive maelstrom lights an immediate fire under the bandmembers' asses; Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing tear through a crushing, diabolical riff; and Rob Halford starts shrieking like a wicked witch, giving perhaps the most malevolent-sounding performance of his career. It's a startling statement of musical purpose that arrived seemingly out of nowhere, heralding a comeback that rivals George Foreman's. Once the leanest, meanest, darkest metal band on the planet, Priest were clearly giving up on the mainstream and instead embracing the thrash and speed metal underground they'd helped spawn. Not only do they come to terms with it here, they teach those whippersnappers a thing or two, marrying furious instrumental pyrotechnics to an unerring sense of songcraft. Spurred on by Travis' jazz-trained double bass assault, Painkiller never once lets up, slowing down only for the elegant menace of the prog-tinged "A Touch of Evil," and without an unmemorable tune in the bunch.

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