Judas Priest
Hell Bent for Leather


3.5
great

Review

by Matthijs van der Lee USER (219 Reviews)
July 7th, 2009 | 139 replies


Release Date: 1978 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A great first plunge into a hybrid of hard rock and heavy metal, that would define the start of a new era for Judas Priest.

After releasing a debut that was more of a rock record, an early metal masterpiece and two great follow-ups that would further explore Judas Priest’s unique brand of heavy metal, the band was not going to do endless amounts of touring. Instead, they began working on their fifth album Killing Machine, which was already released in 1978, the same year as their previous studio offering Stained Class. Things were different this time around though. The band had just become used to their now-famous ‘leather-and-studs’ image, which was pioneered by vocalist Rob Halford and would be adapted by many (metal) bands to come, including NWOBHM-pioneers Saxon.

The image was not the only thing that changed. With it came a take on music that was very different, aimed towards the American market at the time. Priest’s sound would become far more mainstream than it had been before, as well as more hard rock-orientated than on their previous releases. At the end of 1978 the band released their fifth album Killing Machine (re-titled Hell Bent for Leather in the U.S.). The band’s new sound and image would be continued for quite a few albums to come, including the famous follow-up British Steel, and was the start of a new era for Judas Priest.

Killing Machine’s Judas Priest was:
- Robert John Arthur Halford ~ Vocals
- Kenneth Downing Jr. ~ Lead Guitar
- Glenn Raymond Tipton ~ Lead Guitar
- Ian Frank Hill ~ Bass Guitar
- James Leslie Binks ~ Drums

Abandoning the straightforward heavy metal style seems not to be an immediate problem, as Killing Machine is loaded with great new material. Lyrics tend to be simpler as well (think back to Rocka Rolla). Opener Delivering the Goods is a right showcase for the new sound overall, with its guitar that bends heavily towards hard rock and away from heavy metal. The other notable difference is Halford, who is not employing his trademark high-pitched vocals as much as he did, especially compared to Stained Class. Similar tracks such as Hell Bent for Leather, Burnin’ Up and Running Wild follow this path as well, and while not doing too much to stand out and being pretty generic hard rock songs, they are still a very enjoyable listen. The difference that sets apart Judas Priest from other bands in these generically-structured songs is the core of the band: Downing’s and Tipton’s guitars, and Halford distinctive and powerful voice.

As for the stinkers though, they really stink. The semi-ballad Evening Star is far too repetitive and has a horribly cheesy chorus, and full ballad Before the Dawn is a cringe-worthy offering (so far, Priest has not shown to have an incredible talent for ballads). Absolute low point is Take on the World, which thrives to be a powerful anthem, but falls flat on its face with a distasteful and ridiculous chorus, lyrically and in the way it is sung:

Quote:
Put yourself in our hands, so our voices can be heard,
And together we will take on all the world.
Put yourself in our hands, so our voices can be heard,
And together we will take on all the world.
That does not mean that Killing Machine’s songs have no features that set them apart, as many have a unique feel to them. Rock Forever has a pleasantly blues-sounding main riff, the title track has great thumping, and closer Evil Fantasies has Halford once again employing an excellent snarl. High point is the Fleetwood Mac cover, The Green Malanishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown), which gets a full metallic makeover with fantastic results. Ironically, it is actually one of the more metal-sounding songs on the album, and a cover Priest would play live for many times to come.

In the end, it’s all up to you whether you like Killing Machine or not. For those who want hardcore metul, they should pass on it. For those who like Judas Priest’s hard rock-era, this is an excellent offering despite being lightly inconsistent. Simple and straightforward at most times, but thoroughly enjoyable.

+ Simpler than Priest’s other work but still appealing
+ The band’s new sound and image seems to suit them just as well

- Not for the metal purist
- 3 absolute stinkers

Recommended tracks:

The Green Malanishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)
Delivering the Goods
Evil Fantasies
Rock Forever



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user ratings (605)
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3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
MetalLover7 (4)
Though it is not my personal favorite from the Judas Priest catalog, these metal masters provide som...

Blakethemusicman123 (3.5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
July 7th 2009


8409 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

And #5 kicks in. Comments are welcome as usual. I'm wondering if I should do Unleashed in the East first or move right on to British Steel.

KILL
July 7th 2009


73768 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

are you reviewing all priest albums?? oh haha, great review man, i dont own this album sadly

Nagrarok
July 7th 2009


8409 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That's more or less the plan. Once I'd done the first couple of albums, there's no stopping.

cvlts
July 7th 2009


9098 Comments


goddang man, massive props... keep it goin!

OllieS
July 7th 2009


2041 Comments


Yeah I hate this album. Review found the good points well though.

Nagrarok
July 7th 2009


8409 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Is it just this album that you hate or the mainstream sound?

illmitch
July 7th 2009


5465 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is a great album



i dunno why i like 70s priest way more than 80s priest

Nagrarok
July 7th 2009


8409 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Because, simply enough, the 70's stuff is better than the 80's stuff.

OllieS
July 7th 2009


2041 Comments


90% the mainstream sound. I was like 'This is a Priest album, but the guitar solos are meh, what's going on!?' Also Evening Star and Take On The World are badbadbad.

Douchebag
July 7th 2009


3624 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Glad to see you do the priest discography! It means I don't have to!



This album is pretty bland but songs like Hellbent for leather and Green Manalishi are undoubtably classics.

Nagrarok
July 8th 2009


8409 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

And it's good too, that I do it. You would write a bunch of fanboyish reviews.

Douchebag
July 8th 2009


3624 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Doubt It. Rocka Rolla was one of the worst albums i've heard, and they have had a few stinker albums.

Nagrarok
July 9th 2009


8409 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I was referring to the good albums. You would write fanboyish reviews on those.

londoncalling457
November 14th 2009


2685 Comments


I agree with the rating here. Take On the World completely ruins the first side of this record (I have my copy on vinyl), otherwise I think the rest is pretty solid but I actually prefer their previous 3 efforts.

mark7477
August 19th 2010


404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hell bent for leather is very good album it might may be a little too melodic for the priest fan who listens to british steel or painkiller.

KILL
April 23rd 2011


73768 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

rocking hard

KILL
April 25th 2011


73768 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

some fag

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
July 25th 2011


22952 Comments


This album rules. Might have to up my rating, although Take on the World is horrible.

Digging: Oneohtrix Point Never - Commissions II

BigHans
July 25th 2011


26515 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Before the Dawn ftw

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
July 25th 2011


22952 Comments


DELIVERING THE GOODS!



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