(Heavy Metal) Judas Priest - Stained Class
Rob Halford - Vocals
K.K. Downing - Guitars
Glenn Tipton - Guitars
Ian Hill - Bass
Les Binks - Drums
Judas Priest were, without a doubt, one of the most influential bands of the '70s, and one of the most influential bands ever. They were one of the main influences behind speed metal, thrash metal, you name it. Their lineup was incredible. Featuring the most recognisable voice in metal history, Rob Halford (who has recently re-joined Judas Priest!! Yusss!) the guitar work of both K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, and Les Binks on Drums. Ian Hill on bass also effortlessly kept time, and with some songs, takes the limelight well. Stained Class, I feel, was their second best album (behind the almighty Sad Wings of Destiny) and is an excellent way to get into the band.
Let me just say, straight up, that this is the best Judas Priest song. Ever! You will not find a better JP song than this. So if you don't like this song, chances are, you won't like Judas Priest much. Anyway, like a few JP albums, it begins with a cool little drum solo before a cool little guitar riff comes in. The verse is quite good, very driving, the kicks ultimately giving it its driving feel. Then the anthemic verse "Stand Fight for Exciter!" sung so excellently by Halford. The solo has an interesting start to it, then erupts into one of the best solos on the album. The second solo is ultimately better, as it leads into one of the most memorable riffs ever. You know those riffs you just get out of your head? Like Iron Maiden's "Dance of Death" (6:28) that are just so simple, yet so incredibly awesome? This is one of those. At 3:38, turn your stereo up; it's one of the best riffs you are ever going to hear. It ends with another verse, then a chorus out. An incredible song, by one of the best bands ever. And Halford does get his voice so incredibly high at about 5:03. It's great.
White Heat, Red Hot 4:20
Starts well, with a cool little guitar riff. I do like the bass on this song, ever so simple, but great the same. The verse uses the same riff as the intro, then the chorus, which is blended perfectly with the verse, they flow together so well. The solo, I feel, the guitarist is holding back initially, then sort of gets going, then just finishes, albeit well. It's a good song, but not all that outstanding. Halford, of course, is sublime as always, the bass is great, but just not all that exciting.
Better By You, Better Than Me 3:24
Making up for the lack of excitement of the former song straight away, this song erupts with a great riff, and a good, yet simple guitar solo, that fits in well with the riff. I like the short chorus in this, where Halford wails "Better by you, Better than me" over a drum roll. Again, the bass is great, unlike the last song, where Hill was restrained to basically one note, he is free to explore his bass, which he does to great effect. In true early JP style, this song kind of loses its way, not really having a defining moment, and having about three bridges, but is still great in its unpredictability.
Stained Class 5:19
Ahh, the title track. One of the rare occasions where the title track isn't the best song on the album by far, but it is up there. After the initial great soloing, a typical Iron Maiden style-galloping riff enters. Steve Harris, eat your heart out. Only, this CD was made four years before Iron Maiden even formed, making JP far better :p. Anyway. Galloping riffs are one of the best things ever, so I immediately liked this song on first listen. Halford does overdubbing with his voice on this song, in particular in the first verse, which makes for an interesting feel. The chorus is very anthemic, with great chord changes throughout. The second verse is very cool, Halford executes one of his finest moments as JP frontman with some awesome singing. The solos in between the choruses and the verses. The riff at 3:18 is excellent, as is the solo that follows. This is just a plain awesome track, probably the 2nd best song on the album. The solos are the clear highlight, they have over 5 solos on the track (that's more than a solo a minute :D!!)
I'm sorry, JP, but this is just a nothing song. There's only about two spots in the whole song you can possibly headbang ( \m/ ) to, and there's only two solos! (the second one though, is both awesome and of great length) The chorus is pretty cool also. But this song, God bless, is just a filler. You many like it though :thumb:
Saints in Hell 5:30
This is better! We can now safely forget about Invader and listen to Halford croon about waking the dead, and saints in hell! He does do an excellent job in the verse, showing his immense skill and vocal range, over a cool riff. The riff over the chorus is excellent too. The drum breakdown is one of my favourite bits in the whole album, it is just so damn cool. Guitars play simple chords and Halford randomly wails. Yep, it's great. Then ANOTHER riff, sounding ever-so-similar to Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love (then again, lots do) with Halford wailing "Saints in Hell" in between the Whole Lotta Love riff. A definite highlight of the album, and there's no solos in it! It MUST be good.
Starts with some almighty screaming from Halford. This song contains one of the meanest riffs on the album, the guitar tone is awesome, and lethal. The chorus is simple (only two chords) yet effective. The guitar solo incorporates both melody and speed into it, and the two stages of the solo are quite well done. Since the song is so short, there's really not much to write about it. It's a nice little filler song, better than the other short song on the album, "Better by You, Better than Me".
Beyond the Realms of Death 6:53
Wow, what a song! A ballad you ask? Yes! I wasn't initially into this song, until someone told me it was one of their favourite JP song, so I gave it another go, and wow! Halford's voice is incredible as usual, his whiny voice used to awesome effect. The arpeggiated riff is great. The chorus has a riff for the ages, it is immediately recognisable because so many bands have used its format! And then, the solo. It's one of the best melodic solos I've heard. It rivals Comfortably Numb for the best for me. It's just so incredibly awesome, and the length! It's about 1:30 in length. Nearly a quarter of the song is pure emotive soloing! It's great. After another verse and chorus, there's another solo, over the chorus now! It goes for about 35 seconds, another superb solo. My favourite ballad.
Heroes End 5:01
The final song starts slowly, with some chords. This is an odd song. It has a verse riff, with a strong backbeat from the bass, playing on the beat, a rock beat from the drums, and Halford singing away from the riff. It makes for an interesting sound. The riff is very repetitive and can quite annoying. Halford's voice is sometimes overdubbed, adding to the eeriness. The chorus is a bit more straightforward, but not much different. There are some nice fills on lead during the second verse. The solo I feel he is holding back somewhat. The bridge is quite odd as well. This is a more progressive song that the rest of them, and it has mixed results. The bridge riff is very good, but that's about the only thing I like about the song. Another band member and Halford interchange vocals in the bridge is pretty cool as well. The second solo is quite weird as well, it has some type of effect that makes it sound if there is two guitars doing the same solo. It's a great solo, nonetheless. The conclusion of the album draws to an end with the lead pulsing out, a fitting end to a great CD.
4.5/5 is my rating. Why not 5/5 you ask? Well, unfortunately for them, they released the almighty Sad Wings of Destiny
two albums ago, which they, in my opinion, will never beat, so 4.5/5 for me. If SWoD was never released however, it would be 5/5. That said, this is an unbelievably good album, many consider it to be their best, and is a great way to get into the band, so buy it NOW, DAMMIT!