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Vojtěch Klíma
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2 reviews/ratings
Y & T - In Rock We Trust Hard Rock | review permalink
JUDAS PRIEST - Sin After Sin Heavy Metal | review permalink

Metal Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Hard Rock 1 4.00
2 Heavy Metal 1 2.50

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JUDAS PRIEST Sin After Sin

Album · 1977 · Heavy Metal
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1977 was certainly not the most prolific year for hard rock music in the United Kingdom. The old "dinosaurs" were either quitting or devoting their favour to the wide American market, and it was too early for the album production of the early members of NWOBHM. In this strange in-between time, alongside bands like UFO, Nazareth, AC/DC or Thin Lizzy, a relatively established, almost six years long touring formation from the Birmingham suburbs called Judas Priest tried to take the next step in their still slowly developing career. With a new record deal in their pocket, the band has gradually begun to blaze a trail for other future members of the brotherhood of aggressive distortion and sixteenth-notes. But the fact that the band was still in their "searching" phase shows fully on their first release for CBS - the album Sin After Sin.

The opener Sinner sounds pretty pumped up, and the accompanying guitar lines of the Tipton/Downing pairing amuse me a lot; unfortunately, the band also inserted a slowed-down instrumental passage into the bowels of the track, which still stumbles backwards to the progressive tendencies of the previous two albums. Even Halford's vocals, at times turning into a rather annoying squeal for me, don't yet have that edge of years to come. Joan Baez's cover of Diamonds and Rust (on the one hand, it sounds utterly implausible that an increasingly harder rocking band would borrow material from a folk bard, on the other hand - with the band's name itself inspired by a Bob Dylan song, I suppose pretty much anything is possible) is another in a line of hilarious covers that Priest have been able to do - fast, melodic and with the potential to be properly hardened.

Starbreaker shows exactly the direction the band would take on subsequent albums - biting guitars, Halford's vibrating but already sovereign vocals in the treble, and a throbbing rhythmic underside. At the same time, he's my biggest (who knew, right?) favorite on the record. It makes it all the more frustrating every time that the following track, Last Rose of Summer, goes in a completely different direction. A calm narrative with Halford's civilian vocals makes it a rather uninspiring end to the first side of the album at five and a half minutes long.

After an awkward opening, Let Us Prey peels off into a passable ride in which the work of hired drummer Simon Phillips and the colourful escapades of the guitar solos are definitely worth mentioning. The track Call for The Priest - Raw Deal does offer some sympathetic riff work, but the slow pace with few changes is not enough for its seven minute length. Oh, and we have another ballad here, named Here Come the Tears, on which Priest seem to have definitively assured themselves that the road to success does not lead past the piano in their case. Closing one Dissident Aggressor comes in with a proper acceleration and a wailing guitar solo, and (like Starbreaker) I more than enjoy it.

So what to do with this trying but still "looking over its shoulder" effort? When Judas Priest tried to rock hard, things were looking very promising, but the slow tempos and ballads drag the record down to below average again - the real "Sin After Sin" is contained mainly on the second side of the album. Along with the debut, I see this record as the weakest thing Judas Priest issued in the seventies or eighties.

Y & T In Rock We Trust

Album · 1984 · Hard Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
I discovered Y&T on sometime in 2011 or 2012 and I quite enjoyed some of their glam metal stuff with rich backing vocals and awesome guitar solos. I listened to their classic 80's albums Eartshaker (1981) and Mean Streak (1983), but I was most hooked by their follow-up In Rock We Trust (1984). I've given it a few more chances in recent months to see if this music would still work for me.

In short - it works. The fine-tuned sound has just the right groove for me, Dave Meniketti's voice was dealing with some serious rough sawing, and his guitar soloing usually comes at the best possible moments. There's a catchy riff at the core of almost every song included, my favorites probably being in the hits Masters and Slaves, Rock & Roll's Gonna Save the World and Don't Stop Runnin'. The last one is also my absolute number one on the album, primary because of the awesome chorus with vocal answers. I'm also having fun with the wilderness She's a Liar, in whose verses the bass rips into runs with jazz roots under the guitar chords. On the other hand, the two included ballads (I'll Keep on Believin' (Do You Know) and This Time) don't make me sit on my ass as the band sounds quite replaceable in them - especially the second of them, in essentially identical form, could very well be in the repertoire of band such as Journey.

From the lyrics of the first three songs one could get the impression that In Rock We Trust would be a philippic against the rulers of this world and a warning against the war that the imaginary chess of earthly strongmen could cause - even after forty years this theme is not completely passé. But beyond that, it's along the tried-and-true relationship line, oscillating between the self-praise of a kicked-off desperado (Don't Stop Runnin') and a paean to the girl who gives a guy a hard time in bed on demand. In between, of course, you'll find plenty of self-centred lovelorn despair, of which the aforementioned Journey were masters. Fortunately, I can enjoy most rock music quite well without concentrating on the lyrics any more, so as long as it doesn't offer topics for deeper thought, it's not a major obstacle for me.

I've been friends with In Rock We Trust over and over again because Dave Meniketti and co. have managed to deliver the music on this album in a catchy yet uninhibited way. This mix of riffs and melodies is quintessentially 80s in the best sense of the word.

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UMUR wrote:
42 days ago
Nice reviews...keep them coming :-)

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