Judas Priest are not my favourite metal band by a long shot, but I had to admire how significant Stained Class was, with some tracks feeling like they were NWOBHM before such a thing even existed. I can’t decide now whether that was due to my very low expectations or the sound of that record, because this record doesn’t sound to me like it’s that far along the path. Though there are definitely tracks that sound NWOBHM there are also tracks that sound more conventional for the era, which lean more towards the sound of established bands.
Like many Priest albums, the band, at times, sounds like it is trying to walk a fine line between sounding loud and a more commercial more accessible sound. They adhere more to the loud sound here for the most part, but you can see how they became comfortable with the bigger hooks and choruses later on. But despite this penchant for stronger melodies than some of these bands, I can’t help but find the songs somewhat underwhelming, particularly Halford’s lyrics (well, and the lyrics by the other guys too). I know lyrics are not really the point of metal, and Halford’s lyrics are certainly interesting given his sexuality, but I don’t like his lyrics, especially in the choruses. (It could be I like the other lyric writer’s choruses even less, I haven’t check who wrote what.) Also, initially I didn’t like the Fleetwood Mac cover but I’ve come around to it. I still think it’s a song waiting for a definitive cover version, but this is better than I first thought when I heard it.
I wish the band was a little grimier, and the production wasn’t so clean. But I think that’s a criticism of Priest in general, not just this record.
It’s a transitional record, but it still gives a pretty good sense of the state of metal in 1978.
- “Delivering the Goods” (Rob Halford, K. K. Downing, Glenn Tipton) 4:16
- “Rock Forever” (Halford, Downing, Tipton) 3:19
- “Evening Star” Halford, Tipton 4:06
- “Hell Bent for Leather” (Tipton) 2:41
- “Take On the World” (Halford, Tipton) 3:00
- “Burnin’ Up” (Downing, Tipton) 4:07
- “The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)” (Peter Green) 3:23
- “Killing Machine” (Tipton) 3:01
- “Running Wild” (Tipton) 2:58
- “Before the Dawn” (Halford, Downing, Tipton) 3:23
- “Evil Fantasies” (Halford, Downing, Tipton) 4:15
- Rob Halford – vocals
- K. K. Downing – guitar
- Glenn Tipton – guitar, keyboards on “Before the Dawn”
- Ian Hill – bass
- Les Binks – drums