JUDAS PRIEST — Sad Wings Of Destiny

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4.48 | 144 ratings | 14 reviews
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Album · 1976

Filed under Heavy Metal
By JUDAS PRIEST

Tracklist

1. Victim Of Changes (7:44)
2. The Ripper (2:51)
3. Dreamer Deceiver (5:53)
4. Deceiver (2:46)
5. Prelude (2:01)
6. Tyrant (4:29)
7. Genocide (5:48)
8. Epitaph (3:20)
9. Island Of Domination (4:20)

Total Time 39:16

Line-up/Musicians

- Rob Halford / vocals
- K.K. Downing / guitar
- Glenn Tipton / guitar, piano
- Ian Hill / bass
- Alan Moore / drums

About this release

Released by Gull, March 23rd, 1976

Reissued with the following tracklist:

1. Prelude (2:01)
2. Tyrant (4:29)
3. Genocide (5:48)
4. Epitaph (3:20)
5. Island Of Domination (4:20)
6. Victim Of Changes (7:44)
7. The Ripper (2:51)
8. Dreamer Deceiver (5:53)
9. Deceiver (2:46)

Total Time 39:16

This is also the running order listed on the original Gull Records LP, putting the B side before the A side. However the LP opened with Victim of Changes.

Thanks to Pekka, Raff, Lynx33, adg211288 for the updates

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Reissued
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$8.99
$6.69 (used)
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JUDAS PRIEST SAD WINGS OF DESTINY reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Vim Fuego
Do you remember the Atari 2600? It was a gaming console which first hit the market in 1977, and revolutionised home entertainment. A year before Space Invaders hit the arcades and chip shops of the world, the 2600 allowed you to play video games in your own home on your own TV. And the games which eventually followed were great fun to play, as many were ports of popular arcade games, the afore-mentioned Space Invaders being the killer app which really put the 2600 years ahead of the competition. It was followed by NintendoSegaMegadriveGameboyGenesis, or whatever the other wannabe consoles were, but none ever matched the 2600’s longevity, remaining in production for 15 years. Many modern day console gamers revere the 2600, because it paved the way for so much of today’s gaming innovation, culture, and methodology, but would they ever go back to playing just the 2600?

No, they would not.

Despite all it’s innovations, by today’s standard, the 2600 looks old and primitive. Look at a game like Adventure, for example. It was the first adventure/RPG available on a console. The main character is a block. Yes, a little coloured square ran around a castle and, among other things, could carry a spear which is supposed to be a sword with which he could kill a duck. Er, sorry, a dragon. Yes, the dragons looked like ducks. The mazes were blocky and reasonably simple. Compare this to the total immersion of any modern day RPG, like The Elder Scrolls or Witcher series, and it doesn’t even seem like the same technology. However, the basics are still the same- console, screen, controller.

“Sad Wings of Destiny” is an Atari 2600 album anachronistically stuck in a heavy metal PS4/XBOX ONE world. Yes, it is a thing to be admired and respected. Without it, modern metal would not exist in the form it does. It helped lay down the foundations and fundamentals of metal. But metal has moved on.

First though, the positives of this album. It is chock full of those masterly riffs Judas Priest made their career on. The first track “Victim of Changes” crashes straight into that stunning riff, and chugs away like the Little Engine who Fucking Well Could. Second track “The Ripper” is a creepy little fucker, portraying a sense of lurking evil.

A young Rob Halford is an eargasm all it’s own. His clarion call voice is crystal clear, He has the vitality and bite of someone young and ambitious who has an amazing vocal gift. His voice soars, dips, wails, emotes, and threatens. Halford adds colour and nuance, perfectly complementing the crashing metallic music of “Tyrant” or the subtle tones of a picked guitar on “Dreamer Deceiver”.

After a while though, the cracks begin to appear.

The pacing of the album is odd. “Dreamer Deceiver” is just too slow too soon after “Victim of Changes”, and really drops the album flow on it’s ass. True, “Deceiver” picks up the pace again, followed soon after by “Tyrant”, but then there’s another big flat patch with “Genocide”, which reeks of filler, followed by the piano/harmonised vocal song “Epitaph”. It sounds incredibly out of place, more like a rejected track from Queen’s “A Night at the Opera” sessions. Album closer “Island of Domination” is a rollicking rocker with a dirty groove, and just leaves the listener wondering what the fuck Judas Priest were really trying to do with the album as a whole.

The biggest problem here is it just doesn’t sound heavy enough. Volume helps, but it isn’t everything. Yes, a blasphemous thing to say, but there really is a lack of energy and punch to the whole thing which cranking up to 11 and snapping off the knob just won’t fix. Metal was still a relatively new genre in 1976, and studios, producers, and engineers often didn’t have much experience with recording it. As a result, large parts of the album are flat. Occasionally, the guitars sound like Bob Dylan’s nose was used as an amplifier.

Sometimes, time is a bitch. Back in the day, this music might have scared disco fans or the Kiss Army, but by modern standards, it’s all kind of quaint. This is an album which you really want to love, but will probably end up respecting rather than loving.
voila_la_scorie
Music journalist Martin Popoff describes three important stages in the development of heavy metal. The first is invention, for which he cites Black Sabbath’s debut and Deep Purple’s “In Rock” album. The second is reinvention, which according to Popoff occurred with “Sad Wings of Destiny”. I personally agree. Heavy, loud, and aggressive rock became a trend with gathering force at the turn of the decade, but within a couple of years, the hard rock scene with its lyrics about women and fast times or hard times and upbeat melodies replaced the heavier downer rock style of the heaviest of the early seventies’ bands whose lyrics were often about political corruption, war, death and environmental disaster. By 1975, heavy metal was a term used to describe any loud and heavy rock, including music by Aerosmith, Bachman Turner Overdrive, and Nazareth. True metal needed a hero to bring back the "heaviness" of the music and lyrics.

Judas Priest recorded their first album in 1974, and though it featured the latest members of Rob Halford and Glenn Tipton, much of the material was from the Al Atkins days, with more of a heavy blues-based and sometimes progressive style. “Sad Wings of Destiny” includes some remaining material from the old days (“Victim of Changes” is a combination of Al Atkins material and something from Halford’s former band Hiroshima) but was built on a lot of fresh ideas. There was a new approach happening here, and while trying something new for the sophomore release is tempting for a lot of bands, it can also be a disaster. Fortunately for Judas Priest and for the heavy metal world, the new songs inspired rather than disparaged.

The keys to the new sound were lots of heavy bar chord riffs, Halford’s operatic and gifted vocals, and lots of excellent guitar solos by the two lead guitarists with different styles. A personal favourite of mine has always been “Tyrant” which opens with one of the coolest riffs of the 70’s and an excellent pointer to the way metal would develop. The song includes two different choruses and two guitar solo breaks with a distinctly different approach to each, the first being more badass and the second more melodic. Halford hits the high notes here as he would come to be known for doing.

Of course, “Victim of Changes” is an outstanding piece of metal work with some ultra-heavy riffs and that smooth, meditative trip in the middle that slowly gives way to heavy metal thunder at the end with another soaring Halford note.

There’s more of this metal music on “Genocide”, “Deceiver”, “The Ripper” and “Island of Domination”. And one of my favourite melodic guitar solos ever appears on the very beautiful “Dreamer Deceiver”, a song which also showcases Halford’s vocal range from low and soothing with ethereal falsetto to powerful high notes delivered in a range that few men could ever manage.

A curious thing about this album is the use of piano in “Prelude” and “Epitaph”. I don’t know of another Judas Priest album to use piano as the lead instrument. Word is that Glenn Tipton actually played classical piano for many years before switching to electric guitar rather late in life. Because of this, he played piano and synthesizer on the Gull Records albums and his solos are said to be the more melodic and classically influenced while K.K. Downing’s solos were wilder and more visceral.

“SadWings” has so many positive points for a traditional metal album and it makes for an incredible album in the history of heavy music in the 1970’s. Listening to it, it’s easy to see how this album could be like gasoline on the early fires of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. However, after listening to it again the other day I made a few observations worthy of criticism. My introduction to this album was through the truncated version (minus “The Ripper” and “Epitaph/Island of Domination”) that appeared on “Hero Hero” with the entire “Rocka Rolla” album, and now I feel that the production of these omitted songs is different from the others. Perhaps it’s just my CD reissue that has this, but I feel that some of the vocal overdubs are too loud. I also find the playing almost emphatically harsh, unless that is again a matter of the original mixing. The piano in “Epitaph” seems banged and struck as if to add emotion but it comes across as lacking finess.

Questions about the mixing notwithstanding, there are some excellent traditional heavy metal songs on here and some fantastic riffs. Certainly, this was the style to follow to give us heavy metal as we knew it by 1979 when the dam began to burst.
666sharon666
Despite only being released a couple of years after Rocka Rolla, and still containing some material credited to original vocalist Al Atkins, the second Judas Priest album Sad Wings of Destiny is markedly different to their debut. Where Rocka Rolla was a blues based hard rock album typical for the time, Sad Wings of Destiny marks the first example of the heavy metal act that Judas Priest have become one of the best known examples of. As was the case for a lot of their early work there was a drummer change from John Hinch to Alan Moore for this release. Most versions of the album begin with the classic Victim of Changes but others begin with Prelude, which of course actually makes the most sense. I've played the album using both versions of the tracklist and I personally prefer the more well known Victim of Changes led version though, but of course the album still flows pretty well with the other one.

For me Sad Wings of Destiny represents the very best of the 70's Judas Priest work, as well as being one of my favourite records of the group all told. I'd go as far to say that Sad Wings of Destiny is the epitome of 70's heavy metal in general. Victim of Changes is an early example of a metal epic and easily one of the best songs that Judas Priest have ever recorded while in following song The Ripper is an equally good but more to the point style of song. The duo of Dreamer Deceiver and Deceiver are also excellent. The only track I've never been so fond of is the ballad Epitaph actually. It simply pales next to Dreamer Deceiver and not being too much of a ballad person I guess I didn't need two of them on the same album as well. The rest though can still be counted as some of the best Judas Priest songs to date and while many of their albums no doubt deserve classic status, Sad Wings of Destiny, along with the later album Painkiller, is one of the most deserving. It shows off a massive jump in quality from Rocka Rolla and in my opinion is one metal album everyone should own.

Attribution: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/judas-priest-sad-wings-of-destiny-t3779.html
Sinkadotentree
The first time i remember hearing about JUDAS PRIEST was around 1979 when i went to a friend's party. I was walking down the stairs to the basememnt of his parent's house who were away when i could hear this amazing music. I asked who it was and he said JUDAS PRIEST. I promptly went out and found "Unleashed In The East" of which almost half of the tracks were from this very influential 1976 album. "Victim Of Changes" is my favourite. Man Halford can scream and he sounds incredib;e on this track. "The Ripper" makes me smile as i can imagine Bonn Scott handling this one. Great track ! "Dream Deceiber" is interesting as the focus is on Halford's laid back vocals. A nice long and lazy guitar solo comes in late. "Deceiber" is where they kick it up a notch. Check out the high pitched vocals later on. "Prelude" reminds me of Elton John with the piano and sound. I'm thinking "Funeral For A Friend". "Tyrant" blows that all to hell fairly quickly though. Nice rhythm section here, especially the bass. "Genoicide" is a good rocker while "Epataph" is for me a let down, and those vocal harmonies remind me of QUEEN. Just not a fan. "Island Of Domination" ends it. I just can't pull the trigger on 5 stars but certainly this is an influential album that kicks some ass.
Kingcrimsonprog
Sad Wings Of Destiny was the second full-length studio album by the legendary British Heavy Metal band Judas Priest. It was released in 1976 and was their final studio album to be released on the small label Gull Records.

Since its initial release, Sad Wings' has gone on to become one of the band’s most popular and enduring records and also one of the most definitive and influential albums in the history of Heavy Metal. The band have represented the album well in live shows and compilations all throughout their career and numerous important bands have covered tracks from it throughout the years.

Musically, Sad Wings Of Destiny is an interesting and impressive album that was years ahead of its time and miles ahead of its 1974 predecessor Rocka Rolla despite much of the material being written roughly around the same time. Practically every song on the album is either instantly loveable or a grower that will become loveable over time, or else a mixture of the two, such as on ‘Victim Of Changes’ which just kind of gets better with every listen and also becomes even more dynamic and explosive on their live albums.

Stylistically, the band mix grand piano lead tracks with lengthy semi-epic tracks, acoustic moments and outright rockers, and end up delivering at least something for all kinds of fans. Tracks like ‘The Ripper,’ ‘Deceiver’ and ‘Genocide’ with their use of twin guitar work, power chords, palm muting and powerful steady drumming foreshadow almost two decades of Metal music, and still stand up as good songs to this day.

Then the more Progressive Rock influenced moments like ‘Prelude’ and ‘Epitaph’ showcase the talent and variety that the band were capable of musically and the immense range that singer Rob Halford can operate within, and ultimately help prevent the album from seeming one-dimensional or dull.

Overall; If you like Metal music this is something you should seriously consider listening to and if you like Judas Priest it is an absolute must-have record that no fan should be without for long. Sad Wings Of Destiny is not just an important historical document, but a genuinely enjoyable album that still stands up remarkably well to this day.
bonnek
If you could argue that Black Sabbath is hard rock rather then Metal, then Priest's "Sad Wings of Destiny" leaves no room for doubt, this is pure metal, with soaring twin guitars, dark harmonies, thunderous riffs and piercing leads.

It may not be the first album with twin guitars (the Scorpions come to mind) but it's the first this level of attack and vile mood. The vocals are loud, epic and overstated, and much like the death metal growls of a good decade later, they divided mankind into two camps, lovers and haters of heavy metal. Till Metallica's black album there was little room inbetween. I must have been 15 when I first heard this album (a dedicated fan of prog and opera in those years :) I can tell you I didn't know what hit me, love at first sight for sure.

I know a certain Priest fan that doesn't like this because it is too slow. What the heck, the guy needs to lay off the speed pills. This is the most gloomy Priest album, and one of the few metal albums to get so close to the morbid atmosphere of Black Sabbath's early albums. No metal collection can exist without it. Even with a bit of filler like 'Epitaph' this is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Warthur
After making next to no impact (critically, commercially, or historically) with Rocka Rolla, Judas Priest returned with Sad Wings of Destiny and knocked the music world flat on its ass. Opening track Victim of Changes takes the heavy blues-rock template as driven into the ground (taking as its lyrical subject matter the classic blues topic of a no-good woman who done you wrong) plays that particular style of proto-heavy metal far heavier than any of its early proponents ever did, and then absolutely tears the format apart with wailing dual lead guitar solos and a frenzied vocal performance from Halford, who unleashes his trademark ear-shattering scream on record at long last.

From the closing scream, all bets are off - having blown away all metal that came before it, the album proceeds to completely rebuild the genre in its image. Want a blueprint or two for the NWOBHM and speed bands who would take this album as their gospel? Have The Ripper and welcome to it. Want an acoustic ballad that turns into a prog-metal workout? The one-two punch of Dreamer Deceiver/Deceiver has your back. Want a death, destruction, and mayhem-obsessed suite of songs that would set the pattern for every classic Judas Priest album to follow? Turn the record over, you'll find all that and more on side two.

As well as giving the instrumental performance of their lives, carving the dual-lead blueprint into the decapitated skull of metal, the album also marks the point where Rob Halford truly came into his own as a singer. Even today, his vocal performance - ranging from demonic moans to banshee screams to delicate crooning to megalomaniac ranting - is a joy to hear, and I can only imagine what an incredible shock to the sense it must have been when the album first came out. Compared to every other singer on the hard rock and early metal scenes from the era, Halford sounds absolutely possessed on this album, and the rest of the band are raging berserkers to match.

This, quite simply, is the ship that launched three or four subgenres of metal, as well as establishing a credible alternative to the blues-rock basis of metal as established by Zeppelin and Sabbath. If you care even slightly about the history of metal, you need to own this album. If you just want to hear top-notch metal performed by a band at their absolute peak, then guess what, you still need to own this album.
Certif1ed
The sound of a piano and a synth is not what I'd normally expect on a metal album - but then we are talking about 1976, a year or two before the genre finally started to cut loose - and this is arguably the album that kicked it all off.

With Sabbath producer, Rodger Bain still twiddling the knobs, the production seems at odds with the music still, as it did on the debut, but the band's identity is becoming ever stronger, and shines through.

To my ears, this isn't as strong an album as The Scorpions mighty "In Trance" album of the previous year, Alan Moore's drumming being noticeably "boom-pish", and the playing and compositions are far less technically challenging - I do feel that this album is rather over-rated, although I do enjoy it and recognise it's importance in the great scheme of things.

Tipton's compositional skills really aren't all that, as Prelude is a somewhat unconvincing start to this impossibly influential album, with sounds of Queen-lite (meaning Queen on their first two albums!).

An ominous mood is nevertheless established, and "Tyrant" is the song that launched a thousand bands, many taking the title as their name. It's not as intense as "Dark Lady", but that riff can be found in many a NWoBHM composition, and the bridge passage to the solo duel that follows is classic Priest. The second bridge/twin solo is also a great progressive twist, and Rob's own vocal duet is masterly.

The somewhat hesitant intro to Genocide leads to yet another classic Priest riff that was to be plundered by the up and coming generation. Again, the structuring is more progressive than you'd expect from a Metal song of this period, but there are moments where I feel the music is somewhat hollow.

Epitaph is a straight homage to Queen, and a non-metallic song - but the composition is far better here - not Queen by any stretch, but actually not far off.

Island of Domination is a welcome return to the heavy stuff, but again, there's that sense of hollowness until the main riff kicks in, with heavy Budgie and Sabbath ("Children of the Grave") flavours.

Again, Priest get most experimental during the instrumental section, exploring ground laid by Sabbath before them, but taking it forward.

This is an album of two sides though; Side 2 (the first 4 songs on all but the first release!) is the stronger - if the album had continued in the same vein as Side 1, it would be a different story.

Side 2 takes a lot of influence from fellow Brummies, The Sweet - particularly from the song "Sweet FA" on the album "Fanny Adams" of 1974. Play the song (or, at least, the intro and outro - also listen to "Into The Night" and "Set Me Free" from the same album), then listen to the following tracks, and the direct line is unmistakable.

Victim Of Changes, a composition by original vocalist Al Atkins, is the strongest on the album - and a mighty fine epic it is too, although much of the soloing is rather bluffy for my tastes - and packed with Rudolph Schenker style whammy bar action! There are plenty of more original touches - and I can hear the direct influence on Diamond Head.

The Ripper follows - building on a long tradition of songs about the infamous Victorian criminal, popularised in the 1960s by "Screaming" Lord Sutch, and is another massive song, with more Queen and Scorpions tribus.

Dreamer Deceiver is another Atkins song, and the obligatory balladic moment. While slightly bluffy still, the solo here is beautiful as it slithers, snake-like around the frets, competing head on with M. Schenker and Uli Roth for the "most awesome solo of 1976".

Wrapping things up is the "Children of the Grave" inspired "Deceiver", with the unmistakable rhythmic motif derived from the theme to the UK long-running sci-fi series "Dr Who", originally composed by Ron Grainer and realised in electronics by the impossibly talented Delia Derbyshire, later abused by 90% of any metal band that wanted to be taken seriously...

An absolutely massive finish to a rather weak starting album. I disagree with the masses in that I don't find it to be a masterpiece as an entity - Side 1 is just too weak.

It's true that "Sad Wings" is massively influential - but there were other bands that were touring and exerting a huge influence too - so I have to come to the conclusion that this album is rather over-rated, in the truest sense of that over-used term, and in fact it's "Sin After Sin" that bears the real Priest crown. Both Simon Phillips and Les Binks kicked Alan Moore's ass, and provided the powerhouse that Priest needed to catapult them into the Metal Gods realm.

An excellent, nay, essential addition to any metal collection - but do check out the albums I name-checked to keep things in perspective!
rushfan4
Album number 2 from Judas Priest and this is even more progressive and more awesome than Rocka Rolla. The album features spectacular songs like Victim of Changes, The Ripper (one of my all-time favorite songs), Tyrant, Genocide, and Epitaph. To hell with it, all of the tracks are awesome. This album features all of the trademark sounds of Judas Priest: the best screaming vocals in metal from Rob Halford, the dualing twin leads guitars from K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, the crunching bass and drums of their rhythm section. On top of that a piano works it way into the mix. This would be as close to progressive rock as Judas Priest would get as they would go on to adopt the more thrashier sound that they are so well known for. This album is their first of a number of 4 and 5 star albums that they produced throughout their career. I have rated this album with 4 and 1/2 stars, as I don't quite think that it is a masterpiece, but it is damn good.

Time Signature
Island of metal domination...

Genre: (progressively inclined) heavy metal

"Sad Wings of Destiny" is one of the most important albums by Judas Priest, and one of the most important metal albums ever.

One of the things that I like about it is how it captures the band's transition from being a band that was influenced by the hard rock scene of its time (especially by Led Zeppelin and progressive rock in general, it seems) to becoming the gods of all out heavy metal.

As with "Rocka Rolla", "Sad Wings of Destiny" is full of progressive stuff, as in "Victim of Changes", the ballady "Dreamer Deceiver", and even the metal masterpiece "The Ripper", while the Queen-esque piano-based "Epitaph" is a bit of an oddity in the corpus of Judas Priet opuses, and "Island of Domination" seems to draw on the syle of Led Zeppelin. Other tracks, like "Deceiver", "Tyrant", "Genocide" and the above-mentioned "The Ripper" are very much precursors of the all out heavy metal style that would make Priest the gods of metal.

An excellent metal album that belongs in any metal collection!

Members reviews

DamoXt7942
"Sad Wings Of Destiny" released in 1976 is JUDAS PRIEST's second full-length album and, as every Judasist or every progressive fan knows, is the most progressive one of all Judas' library. Mysteriously (and as usual lol) I've purchased this stuff as my first Judas' album "because of the sleeve of charm" and got quite surprised at and immersed in their superior dramatic development of a fairy tale.Some points worthy of special mention are, firstly Rob's voices have got more and more active and characteristic (highly pitched voices) all over the album, secondly K. K. Downing's colourful guitar plays full of passion are pretty awesome, and thirdly their composition and storytelling have got drastic, theatrical, and simultaneously dramatic and comprehensive.

"Victim Of Changes" can be called as the central tower upon this creation. Based upon strict rhythms and tight riffs, the combination of K. K.'s crying guitar sounds and Rob's enthusiastic voices should be kinda musical gem. No bombastic phrase nor metallic trace is there but heavy, deep texture can be apparently heard here and there. Rob sings kaleidoscopically ... sometimes powerful and ardent (e.g. in the opening one), sometimes cool and theoretical ("Ripper" etc.), and sometimes quiet, depressive, but lyrical ("Dream Deceiver ~ Deceiver") ... what an amazement. The B-Side is completely a "hard rock suite", but I'm sure everyone LOVES "Epitaph" that should be impressive, and historically important ballad by a Metallic Collective. Actually this sole track should be worth paying admission fee, believe me.

In conclusion, this superb album would exert much influence upon their golden years and albums later, and at the same time, obviously be different from them in a sense of "structural development for progressive rock".
RuneWalsh2112
I had surprisingly little knowledge of this album up until fairly recently. The reason for that has to do with the way I was introduced to Judas Priest back in the late '90s. My initial album introduction came from the amazing compilation album "Metal Works '73-'93" which I really can't praise enough. Remember that this comes from someone who otherwise despises all compilation albums in favor of the original studio albums. Even to this day "Metal Works '73-'93" holds a special place in my discography. Unfortunately there is a problem with that compilation in the fact that it pretty much only covers the "Sin After Sin" to "Painkiller" era of Judas Priest history. The only exception is the live version of "Victim Of Changes", taken from the 1979 live album "Unleashed In The East".

Since I pretty much comprised my Judas Priest collection based on the material that I enjoyed the most off "Metal Works '73-'93", albums like "Rocka Rolla" and "Sad Wings Of Destiny" weren't actually given a fair chance until only recently. This is very unfortunate since "Sad Wings Of Destiny" is easily one of the band's best moments where Judas Priest made an effort of recording a solid album instead of concentrating on singles, which would become a constant problem later on in their career.

There are just so many great moments on this album that I really can't decide on any one favorite standout moment. In contrast to most of the later albums in the band's discography, "Sad Wings Of Destiny" doesn't actually feature any filler material and the only track that might feel a bit tiresome at times is the 5+ minute "Genocide", which really doesn't do much for me halfway through the track. At least it doesn't annoy me like some of the material that I'll talk about in my later reviews.

Overall, this is a solid piece of Judas Priest history that was criminally overlooked by me up until now. Luckily I've come to my senses and can now enjoy the album for all its greatness!

***** star songs: The Ripper (2:51) Deceiver (2:42) Prelude (2:02) Tyrant (4:27) Epitaph (3:07)

**** star songs: Victim Of Changes (7:44) Dreamer Deceiver (5:54) Genocide (5:46) Island Of Domination (4:24)
SouthSideoftheSky
“In the cosmos is a single sonic sound that is vibrating constantly, and if we could grip and hold on to the note we would see our minds were free”

Sad Wings Of Destiny is one of my favourite albums of all time and an absolute classic. Together with Black Sabbath’s first six albums and a few albums by Deep Purple and Rainbow, Judas Priest’s Sad Wings Of Destiny is one of the most influential Metal albums ever and it is not hard to see why. The dual guitar attack had, of course, been done before by Wishbone Ash and Thin Lizzy among others, but within a Metal context Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing pioneered this approach. In a way they did they same kind of thing with two guitars as Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord did with one guitar and one Hammond organ, but Judas Priest took it to new levels in terms of speed and precision and inspired legions of followers in the process. The heavy Blues influences present in much early Metal music (or ‘Proto-Metal’ as it is called here) and that were also predominant on Judas Priest’s debut album were almost entirely eradicated here which resulted in traditional Heavy Metal as we know it. Another essential ingredient was, of course, the very distinctive lead vocals of Rob Halford which were also clearly influenced by Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan, but again taken to new levels and again inspired legions of followers; Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden being but one of many.

The original 1976 vinyl album opened with the bombastic instrumental Prelude which was a perfect way to open the album and lead the way into the excellent Tyrant. For some strange reason all the CD re-issues of this album opened instead with Victim Of Changes. I think that contemporary listeners should program their CD-player to play the album in its original running order. But regardless of in what order you play it, what follows is a tour de force of great riffs and melodies, inspiring tempo and mood changes, incredible guitar duels and some beautiful slower acoustic passages. It is very plausible that they were also influenced by Queen who had just released the amazing A Night At The Opera album the previous year. The Queen influence is most apparent in the extravagant vocals, in some of the arrangements and perhaps most notably in the Queen-like piano ballad Epitaph. Like most Queen albums, Sad Wings Of Destiny is very varied and alternates between different tempos and moods both within the same song and from one song to another to great effect. The end result is a perfectly balanced album with infinite appeal.

It is hard to pick out favourites from such a uniformly excellent album but Dreamer Deceiver and Deceiver (which should be regarded as two parts of the same piece) are especially brilliant. Here Halford gets to show off his whole vocal range as the song moves from slow and reflective to aggressive to high-pitched Ian Gillan-like screams. Since Prelude and Tyrant basically forms one piece and Dreamer Deceiver and Deceiver also, the album basically just has seven songs and the average length of the songs hints at how much is going on in each of them.

Sad Wings Of Destiny is not only Judas Priest’s best album but an essential Rock classic; it is essential listening not only for Metal fans, but equally so for fans of Prog Rock and Classic Rock in general.

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