JUDAS PRIEST — Painkiller (review)

JUDAS PRIEST — Painkiller album cover Album · 1990 · Power Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
2.5/5 ·
It’s amazing to think about the pace at which bands released albums back in the day. With Painkiller, Judas Priest unleashed their twelfth studio album within a sixteen-year span. With vocalist Rob Halford’s departure following the touring of this release, it puts to an end the band’s string of pumping out albums on a regular basis.

Compared with some of their 80’s work, the first thing that is noticeably different is the drumming. Scott Travis makes Painkiller the most stimulating album from a drumming perspective since Les Binks left the band around a decade earlier. The drums are very dominant in the sound, and his playing is very forceful.

To keep pace with their new drummer, guitarists Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing go into full shred mode. The title track is the most obvious source to witness their twin soloing, but they pretty much run wild throughout the album. Despite the above-mentioned positives, I’m not overly impressed with many of the songs themselves. The strongest songs of the lot are “Painkiller”, “A Touch of Evil” (even though it’s a bit too synth-heavy for my tastes), and “Metal Meltdown”, all of which have made regular appearances in their live set list throughout the years. I’m pretty much underwhelmed with the remaining tracks. There’s no one song in particular that I dislike, but pretty much every track seems to put forth the same vibe (“A Touch Of Evil” aside). Overall, the songs could use a bit more variety, although the 2001 remaster bonus track, “Living Bad Dreams”, helps to some extent.

Although the album was released in 1990, I’d say this album is one of the most dated sounding albums in their discography. I’m also not as keen on Halford’s high pitched screaming delivery as I am with his more natural singing style, but it does work in the context of this album for the most part.

It may sound like I don’t like Painkiller, but that’s not the case. It’s a fun album to listen to every now and then, but still not a Priest album I highly recommend.
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