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Judas Priest

Painkiller

Review by Gary Hill

They open this album with its title track – and Priest have seldom done any songs that are much more frantic and powerhouse in energy. It does a good job of setting the stage for an album that shares much of that sort of fury. The version of this album I’ve reviewed here is the reissue with two additional tracks added to it. I also need to mention that some of these tracks were previously reviewed in my looks at two compilation sets – and in the interest of consistency I’ve used those track by track reviews here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Painkiller
With drums bringing this one in, it is one of the most frantic and hard edged tracks the band has ever done. This one is a standout, even on as massive a collection as this is.
Hell Patrol
This rocker is really heavy and a killer track. While the lyrics definitely have a certain amount of "cheese factor" they've always worked well for me. The main riff is extremely meaty and Halford is in top form here. The end result is an often overlooked, but quite powerful number. The bridge is faster paced and oh so tasty. So is the instrumental segment that follows with some more extremely cool guitar work. It's amazing to me how much cool material they pack into a less than 4 minute song.
All Guns Blazing
Another scorcher, this is a soaring metal cut, and always a favorite of mine. It is aggressive and tasty.
Leather Rebel
They don’t let up on the aural onslaught here. This is another ferocious cut that’s pounding in its fire and fury.
Metal Meltdown
Starting slow and a bit melancholy and mysterious, this one is a slightly generic, but still quite strong rocker. The addition of keys, along some quirky changes actually adds to the effectiveness of this one, moving it beyond generic basis. There are points where this feels just a little bit like Iron Maiden.
Night Crawler
This one comes in feeling a lot like something you might hear from a Goth metal band, but as the song proper emerges, this is all Priest. A later segment feels like creepy late period Alice Cooper.
Between The Hammer & The Anvil
This one is a fairly strong rocker that at times calls to mind the early Judas Priest sound, while still updating it. It rocks out hard and fast.
A Touch Of Evil
Starting slow and a bit melancholy and mysterious, this one is a slightly generic, but still quite strong rocker. The addition of keys, along some quirky changes actually adds to the effectiveness of this one, moving it beyond generic basis. There are points where this feels just a little bit like Iron Maiden.
Battle Hymn
Here we have a short introductory instrumental movement. This is like a powerful fanfare – a bit like “Hellion.”
One Shot At Glory
I love the powerful musical and lyrical themes on this one. It’s all about the type of glory grabbing the title suggests. I know I’ve reviewed an album of Klingon music before. Well, for my money this is a Klingon song. 
Living Bad Dreams
The first of two bonus tracks included here, this shows just how strong the disc is. I mean, if this was a cut that they felt wasn’t as potent as the other material here, that says a lot. A powered up, dark balladic piece, this is a killer. I’m glad it’s found a place to dwell on the remastered version of the disc.
Leather Rebel (Live)

As the title tells us, this bonus track is a live rendition of the cut we heard earlier on the CD. It’s a strong performance and a good way to end the album.

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