JUDAS PRIEST — Painkiller (review)

JUDAS PRIEST — Painkiller album cover Album · 1990 · Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
"Faster than a laser bullet, louder than an atom bomb"

In some ways, Painkiller was a return to what the band were doing on Stained Class in 1978 - twelve years and some eight albums earlier! But at the same time, it is not so much a return to something old as something brand new. After six studio albums with Dave Holland, Judas Priest finally re-discovered the drums here with Holland being replaced by Scott Travis. The line from the title track that I have chosen as the headline for this review perfectly describes Travis' drumming on this album. In hearing Painkiller, it suddenly became so obvious that the previous drummer held the band back and this lack in the drum department was a large part of what made most of those 80's albums less than impressive. Drums are a very important part of Metal music and here they finally remembered that again! Compare the drums on Living After Midnight with those on Painkiller and you will see that the difference is about as big as it could possibly be. It is very interesting to think about what earlier albums would have sounded like with Scott Travis behind the kit.

The material on Painkiller is uniformly stronger than on most of the 80’s albums and they seem to have a newfound energy and passion that they haven’t had since the 70’s. Indeed, there is not one weak moment on this album with the title track, Between The Hammer & The Anvil, A Touch Of Evil and Battle Hymn/One Shot At Glory being my personal favourites. A Touch Of Evil features keyboards by Don Airey who previously added keyboards to albums by Black Sabbath, Rainbow and Ozzy Osbourne and many others. Whatever keyboards can be found of the rest of the album are by Glenn Tipton.

The only problem I have with this album is that the songs are rather similar to each other. This is especially so during the first half, but it remains highly enjoyable throughout. The reissued version features the bonus track Living Bad Dreams which is a nice ballad that would have added some more diversity to the album.

Rob Halford left the band shortly after this album (but he returned many years later).

One of Judas Priest's better albums!
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