JUDAS PRIEST — Sin After Sin (review)

JUDAS PRIEST — Sin After Sin album cover Album · 1977 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Call for the priest!

How would Judas Priest follow up the masterpiece that was Sad Wings Of Destiny? The answer was: with another brilliant album! Sin After Sin has a similar sound and structure to the previous album and once again we get a consistently excellent set of songs. The album opens with its best track, the fantastic Sinner. I love the slow middle section and the way it builds to re-introduce the main riff and also the operatic and slightly Queen-like vocals at the very end of the song. Next up is a Joan Baez cover called Diamonds And Rust. Judas Priest doing a Joan Baez cover might come as a surprise to many people, but Priest really manages to make it their own! Starbreaker is something of a precursor to what the band would do later on in the decade and in the early 80’s with the Killing Machine and British Steel albums. This means a slightly commercial approach in the sense that the main riff of the song is very infective and catchy and the structure of the song is rather simple and straightforward. However, despite the handclaps (that I actually find quite charming!), I much prefer Starbreaker to, say, Breaking The Law or Hot Rockin’. Last Rose Of Summer is a very uncharacteristic song in the Judas Priest output. It is a very nice ballad with excellent vocals from Rob Halford. Though this song would probably not appeal to me standing on its own, I think it brings diversity to the album as a whole in the same kind of way that Epitaph did to Sad Wings Of Destiny. I can imagine that some Metal fans don’t appreciate this type of song, but personally I like all of the songs on this album even if most songs here are not quite up to par with the otherworldly Sad Wings Of Destiny material.

Since Diamonds And Rust, Starbreaker and Last Rose Of Summer are all rather straightforward numbers, I strongly feel that (with the exception of the great Sinner) the second half of this album is the better half. Let Us Pray is this album’s Prelude (the instrumental that introduced Tyrant on the previous album) and it is strongly Queen-like in nature with Brian May-like guitar and Queen-esqe multi-tracked vocals. This piece functions as an excellent introduction to Call For The Priest. This song has some great guitar playing from Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing; the section that begins at 4:48 into the song is particularly brilliant. Raw Deal is indeed a pretty ‘raw deal’ with a rather gritty riff and verse but this is balanced by an operatic chorus and some short slower passages. Here Come The Tears is this album’s Deceiver and it has those unmistakeable high-pitched vocals that Halford is famous for. The album ends with the amazing Dissident Aggressor that together with Sinner and Let Us Pray/Call For The Priest constitute this album’s highlights.

While not as good as the previous album, I must say that I really enjoy Sin After Sin. It has several very uncharacteristic features that make it unique in the Judas Priest catalogue and it is, I think, the most diverse and varied album they ever made. Some might perhaps call it incoherent, but I think that its diversity is part of what makes it so appealing.

An excellent companion to Sad Wings Of Destiny!
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