Review Summary: Priest mixes mainstream with metal and create one of the best albums of their career.
Following their more hard rock-orientated albums Killing Machine
, British Steel
and Point of Entry
, Priest went back into the studio to record an album that combined their recent direction with the traditional 70’s heavy metal they used to produce. A smart move for the band, as they could now win back old fans while still holding on to the recently gained ones. The new album, titled Screaming for Vengeance
, was released in 1982, and proved to be Priest’s biggest jump in popularity so far, with the single You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
topping the charts, and opener(s) The Hellion/Electric Eye
becoming one of their favourite live performances. Screaming also introduced the first creature, The Hellion, of what would become a stream of ‘metal messiahs’ (an overly cheesy concept by Priest with each of the respective albums more or less conceptualising aspects of the creature depicted on the cover art).
Screaming for Vengeance’s Judas Priest was:
- Robert John Arthur Halford ~ Vocals
- Kenneth Downing Jr. ~ Lead Guitar
- Glenn Raymond Tipton ~ Lead Guitar
- Ian Frank Hill ~ Bass Guitar
- David Holland ~ Drums
The idea of mixing the mainstream and heavy metal approach turned out to be a very fortunate move indeed, not only commercially, but also quality-wise. Overall, the album shows the best of both worlds, meaning the catchiness of mainstream Priest along with the riffing and soloing of metal Priest. Halford retains a strong balance between high-pitched/screaming vocals and ‘regular’ vocals, in contrast to earlier albums where mostly one of the two would overpower the other. This sense of balance is something the band didn’t quite achieve earlier (except maybe on Sad Wings of Destiny
), and is what makes Screaming such an excellent revitalization after the disappointing Point of Entry.
Taking the best of both worlds also means that the album has the necessary variety the most Priest albums tend to lack. The two opening tracks are straight out heavy metal and get the listener pumped for the rest, while in contrast You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ is one of Priest’s best mainstream efforts. Riding on the Wind
is simply structured to the likes of the last few years, but proves to be a great heavy metal song in the way it is presented, and has Holland putting down a surprising performance in which he stands out for a change. As should be on any album, the title track is one of the finest offerings with its menacing ferociousness, and a showcase of the fact that Priest still has some new ideas to offer.
Consistency is what completes the pleasant listening experience. Unlike almost all other Judas Priest albums, there is not a single filler track present on the album. Songs such as Pain and Pleasure
may not be as memorable as the others, they do not detract from the quality of the album in any way. The only real problem Screaming for Vengeance has, is the absence of innovation, as the band is basically combining old ideas together. Luckily most listeners won’t mind this.
Simply a magnificent landmark in the extensive Judas Priest discography, Screaming for Vengeance successfully combined old and new approaches in the exact right way. It is very consistent, has more than enough memorable songs, and is enjoyable throughout. Only flawed by lack of real innovation, Priest’s 8th studio album is one of their best ever, and should be picked up by anyone with slight interest in the band.
+ Combines the appeal of heavy metal and mainstream song writing
+ Very consistent
+ Likeable for almost anyone who likes hard rock/heavy metal
- No real musical progress
The Hellion/Electric Eye
Screaming for Vengeance
You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
Riding on the Wind