JUDAS PRIEST — Sin After Sin (review)

JUDAS PRIEST — Sin After Sin album cover Album · 1977 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
2.5/5 ·
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.
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Rumblestrip wrote:
6 days ago
I think it's important to point out, that the last track "Dissident Aggressor" became pretty much the blue print for "Thrash Metal" , as has been cited by many of the worlds Thrash luminaries over the years.
Vim Fuego wrote:
39 days ago
I accidentally bought two copies of this album.
Tupan wrote:
40 days ago
Great review, and I agree with most of it. Not the best Judas effort, the only songs I remember are Starbreaker and Diamonds and Rust.


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