'Faster than a bullet
Enraged and full of anger
He's half man and half machine'
And so begins the title track of Judas Priest's speed metal masterpiece, Painkiller. This album is the epitome of all things metal. It doesn't get more over-the-top than this. Dragonforce? Nah, those guys are wimps. Judas Priest could be insane and ridiculous all they wanted, and they could, unlike many other metal groups, make it sound good. Not just good. Amazing
Painkiller is a heavy metal classic, through and through. It's definitely the most extreme of all of Priest's studio albums. It takes the raw agression and power found on albums like Screaming for Vengeance and Stained Class and multiplies that tenfold. Rob Halford is at his very best here. His shrieks and shouts are second to none on this album. For some Priest fans, his voice is just too high-pitched. They preferred his lower, yet still great voice found on previous albums. On Painkiller, he seems to be shouting more than anything, but regardless, his voice sounds stellar and he sounds more pissed off than ever before. He reaches his highest notes of all-time on this album. The title track and others have Halford at his loudest ever, reaching notes not even achieved by some opera singers. On some songs, like Hell Patrol and Night Crawler, his voice is slightly more tamed and less over-the-top. No matter how he's singing on this album, Rob Halford's vocals are top-notch.
Glenn Tipton and KK Downing are two of metal's finest guitarists ever. The solos found on Painkiller are flourishing with absolute virtuosity. The duo is best at playing fast, reckless riffs and solos, yet they also hold their own at slower, more sinister riffs, like the ones found in the aforementioned Night Crawler, and Between The Hammer and The Anvil. Are any of you familiar with the video game F-Zero X for the Nintendo 64? Every level of this game has a soundtrack filled with melodic and cheesy guitar-playing. The solos in Painkiller are similar to those found in F-Zero X. Endless shredding and melody fused with brutality dominate the title track. Painkiller is definitely the duo of Tipton and Downing's finest hour.
Until I heard Scott Travis, I was under the impression that Priest was all guitar and vocals and no one was good in the rhythm section of the band. I was wrong. Although previous Priest drummers ranged from average to bland, Scott Travis was truly special. He is an outstanding drummer, especially for the genre. Speed metal is not exactly known for having incredibly talented drummers. The finest men behind the kit in the metal world are usually found in the genres of progressive metal and thrash (sometimes). Scott Travis, however, is certainly an exception. The first thing you hear on this album is Travis' ferocious and chaotic drumming. He plays incredibly fast and throws in plenty of fills, yet he keeps the beat and refrains from sounding too crazy. The title track is definitely his best performance. The entire first twenty seconds of the song consists of nothing but Scott banging away on his drumkit. He's definitely one of the best metal drummers out there, and the best drummer Priest has ever had.
Painkiller is almost
flawless. However, there are a few negative aspects. There is no filler aside from track eight, A Touch of Evil, which is absolutely bland, uninspired, and simply boring. Also, while Rob Halford's vocals are top-notch, they can get irritating at times, but this is very rare. The lyrics are awful, but at the same time, they are hilarious. The only metal band that I can think of that has worse lyrics than Judas Priest is Dethklok, and they aren't a real band. The lyrics on this album may be terrible, but I just love 'em. They fit the music, definitely. If Painkiller had thought-provoking lyrics, it wouldn't be as fun.
'Twisting the strangle grip
Wont give no mercy
Feeling those tendons rip
Torn up and mean'
-All Guns Blazing
Pretty silly, huh?
Painkiller is a metal masterpiece. If you want to get into Judas Priest, buy this album and download/ignore the rest of their material. This was, without a shadow of a doubt, worth the one dollar and forty-five cents I paid for it. Although there is one lackluster song (A Touch of Evil), Painkiller is definitely worth buying if you're into Judas Priest or just heavy metal in general. It is a classic, through and through. If you like metal and have avoided this album, buy it now. It's not for everyone, but if you want to retreat from the serious and complex sounds of Opeth and other bands, then buy Painkiller. It's fifty-five minutes of speed metal bliss.