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Review: Judas Priest - Screaming For Vengeance
Judas Priest
Screaming For Vengeance

Label: Sony
Year released: 2001
Originally released in: 1982
Duration: 51:03
Tracks: 12
Genre: Heavy Metal


Review online: February 5, 2020
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.67/5 (93.33%) (84 Votes)

Alright, I'm not going to beat around the bush here. You know who Judas Priest are, you know what this album is, and you're not here to listen to me go on about the history of one of Metal's most prominent and successful acts in this opening bit. You clicked on this review out of curiosity, you took one look at the rating, and now you're demanding an explanation as you meaningfully grind an axe, provided you haven't just clicked off already. So before I go any further, let me make it clear that this album is a landmark release from one of our flagship bands, and nothing I can say here will ever do anything to discredit the legacy that it has left for Metal as a whole, nor is it my intent to even try. What I'm here to say is that now, nearly 40 years later, this album shows its age quite a bit, and not always in the best ways.

Judas Priest were very much a band of their time, which is to say that they had a bad tendency to ride on current trends for most of their early days. At this point, they moved to an even more commercial sound than before, putting them in the same category of bands that we'd call Classic Rock these days. This isn't inherently a bad thing, but the problem with chasing trends is that it immediately dates your sound, and in Priest's case it has made a lot of their discography sound closer to those trends than to Metal when compared to other past greats like Maiden and Motörhead. Suffice to say, I just don't hold that sound in very high regard, so a lot of Priest's older material, along with this album, just doesn't do it for me like they do for other people.

That's not to say that nothing on this album aged well. The colossal riffs of "The Hellion" leading into the propulsive "Electric Eye" still stands as one of the greatest album openings of the '80s, the title track is a solid speedy number, "Fever" is an infectious stomp, and the bonus ballad "Prisoner of Your Eyes" is actually damn solid despite being a little too long. The real gem on this album, however, would be "Bloodstone", a pounding rocker that has everything we want in a Priest song: headbanging riffs and Rob wailing like no one else at the time could do. The rest of the songs, excluding the dull "Pain and Pleasure", are all well played and enjoyable while they're on, but they're all a little too simplistic and trendy to really grab me.

Is it unfair of me to hold a classic album to task for not holding up to modern standards? Probably, but no one said the test of time was fair, and plenty of other classic bands had no trouble withstanding that test. Hell, even Priest themselves have an album that does just that, for after milking commercialism for all it was worth in the '80s they would release Painkiller, an album that updated their then stagnant sound so well that you still hear bands referencing it near wholesale to this day. I don't blame them for doing what made them successful, I don't blame fans of the band for loving this album and conspiring my demise for not doing so, and I know damn well that Metal as we know it may not have existed if not for albums like this. For my money, however, the genre has moved past this kind of sound, and I just can't get that excited for it.

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