JUDAS PRIEST — Killing Machine (review)

JUDAS PRIEST — Killing Machine album cover Album · 1978 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Kingcrimsonprog
Judas Priest’s fifth studio album was released in late 1978, quickly following up their classic Stained Class album from early in the same year. It saw the legendary British Heavy Metal band alter their sound slightly and alter their image and lyrical content quite a bit.

The album in question was released both under the name Killing Machine and Hell Bent For Leather depending on where you bought it, America or Europe.

For Judas Priest it goes without saying that the standard of musicianship is high and that there are lots of memorable vocal hooks and impressive guitar solos spread through the forty-five minute duration to keep the listener entertained. The styles and sounds on this record in particular are diverse and represent the band transitioning from their slightly complex and progressive 1970s work and their more radio friendly early 80s work, fitting as it would be the bands last release of the seventies. Indeed at times you can pick up a part or two that has an almost Rush or Queen feel only to contrast with moments that are much more akin to the NWOBHM sound.

Some of the material for example is fast and hard, classic heavy metal such as the tracks ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ ‘Running Wild’ and ‘Delivering The Goods.’ Elsewhere ‘Before The Dawn’ is more of a melodic ballad, the other tracks are mid paced rock with fun riffs and then the curve-ball ‘Take On The World’ has that anthemic sing along angle that the band would occasionally try (such as on their later tracks ‘Defenders Of The Faith’ and ’United’) and arguably always fail.

Depending on your own tastes, the diversity of the material can either be seen as an abundance of ideas by a creative band or as a lack of cohesion by a band unsure of what do. Some fans love the record and some see it as inferior to what came before but don’t let the lack of consensus put you off; in any case this is certainly an album worth at least trying.

In my own opinion Killing Machine is a good album and gives a sort of “best of both worlds” between British Steel’s sleek simplistic perfection and the older material’s darker tone and prog influenced classic sound, both of which I love. This is a good album that is well produced, interesting and fairly consistent in quality if not musical style. I’ll concede that perhaps this isn’t the first Judas Priest album that you should buy, but it is definitely welcome in the collection once you like the band.

**** If you get the version with bonus tracks, you are treated to a demo version of the Defenders Of The Faith era track ‘Rock Hard Ride Free’ that is entitled ‘Fight For Your Life.’ Additionally there is a live version of era song ‘Riding On The Wind’ recorded live in 1983. The songs may not slot in perfectly with the album stylistically but are welcome extras nonetheless. ****
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