Ask any Judas Priest fan what their favourite album from the famous band is, and you'll get a variety of different answers. From the band's speed metal comeback, Painkiller, to their breakthrough album, British Steel, to Stained Class, to even Sad Wings of Destiny, you're bound to hear several different responses. One answer you'll definitely hear often is the excellent Screaming for Vengeance. Released in 1982, Screaming for Vengeance is heralded as a classic by many, not just for Judas Priest, but for metal in general.
Priest's sound on Screaming for Vengeance is undeniably heavy metal. From the quick-paced opening track, The Hellion/Electric Eye (one of the band's best songs of all time), to the aggressive title track, to the high energy closer, Devil's Child, there is not much to dislike on this album. Frontman Rob Halford sounds excellent on the album, and in my opinion, here he steps up the performances he's been giving on the last couple albums. His wails and screams combined with some lower register singing prove why the man is considered one of the best singers in the genre, as they are seemingly pulled off effortlessly yet are still very catchy. They mix very well with the guitar dueling elements in Judas Priest's music, which are performed by K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton. The combination of Halford and the Tipton/Downing tandem produces a sound that was not only accessible enough for the casual rock fan, yet heavy enough for your metal junkie.
Guitarists K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton don't participate in shredfests on Screaming for Vengeance as much is in, say, Painkiller, but they still show off their chops with well placed solos. Though slower in most cases, these solos are just as fun to listen to as anything the band has ever done. The tone on their guitars sounds great. Hmm, you need examples? Check out tracks such as Bloodstone, Pain and Pleasure or Screaming for Vengeance. Very metallic sounding and very enjoyable. While the leads are classic Judas Priest, the rhythm guitar is a little less impressive. It's pulled off well, yet at the same time is very simple, and at times relies on Halford's voice more than it should, ala You've got Another Thing Comin'. The other two musicians, Ian Hill and Dave Holland don't stand out as much as the rest of the band. That said, Holland has his moments, particularly on the intro to track 3, Riding on the Wind.
Lyrics on Screaming for Vengeance are hit in miss. They've got some excellent writing in songs like Electric Eye, the title track, and perhaps Bloodstone. The bonus track found on the remaster, Prisoner of Your Eyes, also has some of my favourite Judas Priest lyrics, though they aren't really that special. The rest are pretty lackluster. Cheesy lyrics have always been found in Priest's work and as it isn't very important on a Judas Priest album, but lines such as "Eat my diamonds/ Drinking all my gin / Feast your eyes on/ A whole lotta sin" (Devil's Child). Also, the chorus to Devil's Child seems like it contradicts itself.
Screaming for Vengeance was another very popular Judas Priest album. Producing hits such as The Hellion/Electric Eye and You've Got Another Thing Comin', the album helped the band achieve even more mainstream success. Screaming for Vengeance immediately became a fan-favourite as well, winning over plenty of 'true metal' fans. Along with British Steel, Screaming for Vengeance is one of the Priest's most well known albums. If you're new to Priest, hell, new to metal all together, make this one of your first purchases.
The Hellion/Electric Eye
Screaming for Vengeance
Prisoner of Your Eyes (Bonus track on remaster only)