Judas Priest
Stained Class


4.5
superb

Review

by Matthijs van der Lee USER (219 Reviews)
July 6th, 2009 | 667 replies | 34,164 views


Release Date: 1978 | Tracklist

Review Summary: One of the best things Priest put out in the 70's, if not in their entire career.

10 of 10 thought this review was well written

1977’s Sin after Sin saw Judas Priest almost fully developing their core sound, their true heavy metal style that would serve as a cornerstone whereupon all of their next releases would be built. Guitarists K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton were using their talents more than ever to create innovative, stunning guitar work, vocalist Rob Halford was growing more and more confident, bassist Ian Hill did not go unheard, and finally a drummer competent in the heavy metal scene would join. This drummer however, Simon Philips, was only a session musician who left after the recording of Sin after Sin. Soon afterwards, Les Binks was chosen as a tour drummer, but the band was so impressed with his performance they asked him to stay. Binks was an accomplished and technically skilled drummer who contributed just as well, if not better than Simon Philips, to Judas Priest’s heavy metal sound. The production of the album, at that point, was the clearest and cleanest so far. Coinciding with these changes went the introduction of what would become the classic Judas Priest logo. A logical change, because of the logo’s metallic look that would work better with Priest releases from then on, in contrast with especially Sad Wings of Destiny, with which the gothic-styled look suited perfectly. Priest’s fourth record was released in 1978 and called Stained Class, and has remained the only album in the band’s history that contains song writing contributions by all band members. It is often hailed as a classic in their catalogue and as an influence on the speed metal genre.

Stained Class’ Judas Priest was:
- Robert Halford ~ Vocals
- K.K. Downing ~ Lead Guitar
- Glenn Tipton ~ Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Ian Hill ~ Bass Guitar
- James Leslie Binks ~ Drums

Both of those last two claims are understandable. Stained Class contains many of the band’s famous songs, such as Exciter and Beyond the Realms of Death, as well as the notorious Better Than You, Better Than Me cover, originally recorded by British progressive rock band Spooky Tooth. As for the influence on speed metal, one would have to think back to the late 70’s. By today’s standards, Stained Class is nowhere near speed metal, but the influence can be clearly seen, especially in the typically blistering guitar solos.

Priest’s fourth album has a lot of potential to become a classic. The main reason for this are the band members, who are all on top of their game. Halford delivers powerful vocals and succeeds in hitting those high notes more than ever, Downing and Tipton are an unmatched twin guitar lead, as well, bringing forth one excellent solo and harmonization after the other. Newcomer Les Binks is quite the solid heavy metal drummer, and an excellent replacement for session player Simon Philips.

Stained Class blasts off with its immediate high point, Exciter, which is highlighted by well-carried out switched between vocal and guitar parts, and a fantastic chorus that has Halford hitting a very powerful high note.

The quality keeps up for a while. White Heat, Red Hot is an excellent offering that is marked by Halford’s pauses in between singing, which gives the song an extra edge. Better By You, Better Than Me has a great groove to it, and is one of Priest’s finer covers, and the title track has nice tempo switches that keep the variety going. The real epic here is Beyond the Realms of Death, and has no intention in hiding it. The title itself, the soft parts that are typical of the song type (interestingly enough, the recurring soft riff was written by Les Binks), and two extended solos all contribute to the feel of the song. Excellently carried out, and rivals Exciter for best song on the album.

Unfortunately, the album is not completely flawless. Especially Downing & Tipton’s guitar leads can start to sound samey towards the end of the album, and Halford can’t seem to stop showcasing those high notes, which might get on the nerves. Song-wise, the middle part is somewhat lacking with Invaders, Saints in Hell and Savage nicely blending in with the album’s sound, but lacking an uniqueness to stand out. This makes Stained Class drag on for just a bit too long in that part. Luckily, Heroes End closes off things on a high note, with differing vocal styles that may somewhat remind of Sad Wings of Destiny’s closer Island of Domination. A blistering guitar solo is presented at the end, and fades out softly, leaving the listener with a fulfilled listening experience.

Judas Priest studio offering #4 proves to be an excellent output, and a high point in the band’s career, containing much of the band’s most enduring material. The band has finally grown fully confident with their trademark style, and this leaves many fantastic results. Though the album has its flaws, Stained Class is one of the best Judas Priest albums from the 70’s, and deserves being picked up.

+ Halford has mastered the high notes and hits them frequently
+ Downing and Tipton are on top of their game
+ Drumming has, once again, improved

- Main riffs start sounding samey towards the end of the album
- The album drags slightly in the middle

Recommend tracks:

Exciter
Beyond the Realms of Death
Stained Class
Better By You, Better Than Me



Recent reviews by this author
Genesis Calling All StationsGenesis We Can't Dance
Genesis Invisible TouchGenesis Genesis
Genesis AbacabGenesis Duke
user ratings (735)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
July 6th 2009



8196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Priest review #4. I took a short reviewing break after Sin after Sin.

genericnamelol
July 6th 2009



49 Comments


Wasn't this the album that caused a shit storm in the media?

Nagrarok
July 6th 2009



8196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Better Than You, Better Than Me is what you're talking about, I think:

An unfortunate legacy of Stained Class is the 1990 civil action brought against the band by the family of a teenager, James Vance, who entered a suicide pact with his friend Ray Belknap after listening to "Better By You, Better Than Me" on December 23, 1985. Belknap succeeded in killing himself, and Vance was left horribly disfigured. The suit alleged that the band recorded subliminal messages on the song that said "do it". The suit was eventually dismissed.

OllieS
July 6th 2009



2030 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Top-notch review. 'Beyond The Realms Of Death' is my fav here, the first guitar solo is just soooooooo epic (it's more than 2 whole minutes long, I think)

Douchebag
July 6th 2009



3624 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Man I F'ing love Judas Priest! I was so cut that that didn't play Beyond The Realms of death when I saw them last year, solo is one of my all time fav's and the rythems are a blast to play on a gibson flying V!

Nagrarok
July 7th 2009



8196 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks OllieS. And I agree 100% percent with that guitar solo.

KILL
July 18th 2009



71482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Exciter is a fucking full on classic, Stained Class rules too, great album

Digging: Invisible - El jardin de los presentes

pdub121769
October 8th 2009



3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Beyond the realms of death is probably one of the all time most underrated songs not just by priest but by anyone! Can't believe no one talks about saints in hell either 2 epic songs that just prove that priest is one of the best ever! Can't believe the R&R hall of fame bitch slapped the m by putting Matallica in first! Show some respect to those who laid the brick work on the road of Rock and Metal!

Jesuslaves
December 25th 2009



4655 Comments


This would be a classic if Halford wasn't so goddamn annoying. It's really only this album that he bugs me, too.

I need to have a word with the guy who told me that this was basically Painkiller, just a decade earlier.

Dragonforce89
December 29th 2009



326 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Im know howto rate not The Devil THIS ALBUM atleast 5/5

ExcavatedSkull00
April 15th 2010



59 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

My fav. cd ever priest helped take metal through punk thank god and set the tempo for the 80s metal bands, class is a very important metal album.

mark7477
August 19th 2010



393 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this is one hell of a priest album and kicks even more ass considering the band won the case of that stupid heavy metal suicide type of trial.

long live the priest.

KILL
October 22nd 2010



71482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

rocking this album atm

jesus you never like anything good wtf


Megadeth
December 3rd 2010



935 Comments


great album

KILL
February 20th 2011



71482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

god damn this album is so fucking erghh FUCK

Jesuslaves
February 21st 2011



4655 Comments


halford wrecked this one.

KILL
February 22nd 2011



71482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

you dumb

BigHans
March 29th 2011



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just jammed out hard to Beyond the Realms of Death. Its like Priest' Stairway to Heaven. Fucking ownage.

KILL
April 16th 2011



71482 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

BETTER BY YOU

BETTER THAN ME

DNDNDNDNDNDNDNDNDNNNNNNNN

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
July 25th 2011



20440 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

FALL TO YOUR KNEES AND REPENT IF YOU PLEASE!



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy