In September 1990, legendary heavy metal singer Rob Halford took “going out with a bang” seriously by releasing “Painkiller” with JUDAS PRIEST. The album was the last JUDAS PRIEST album to feature the singer, at least until his return for the 2005 album “Angel of Retribution.” Scott Travis took place behind the drum kit, replacing long-time member Dave Holland and, due to his heavy use of double kicks, gave the band a new, prolific sound along with a heavier edge.
That the metal community instantly welcomed “Painkiller” into their repertoire is not really a big surprise; “Painkiller” is probably JUDAS PRIEST‘s heaviest album to-date and contains a fair number of the band’s ultimate classics. The heavy tone is set with the opening and title track “Painkiller,” which contains soaring guitar riffs, high-pitched screams, impressive drumming, and that’s only the beginning. The hit is a sign that JUDAS PRIEST with “Painkiller” re-invented themselves after losing focus a little bit during the mid-80s and is ultimate proof that they, too, were involved with the modern needs of metalheads. The record continues with the slower-paced “Hell Patrol,” which is a little bit more catchy and classic JUDAS PRIEST in style.
Picking up the pace, “All Guns Blazing,” has some of the heaviest riffs in JUDAS PRIEST‘s history and definitely makes up for a great follow-up with its grand and somewhat catchy chorus. The feast of fury continues with “Leather Rebel,” which has an impressive intro but at the same time is probably the most melodic song of the whole album. Rob Halford shows his versatility in the track by showcasing his outstanding lower register. Less melodic and more aggressive is “Metal Meltdown,” which follows a similar style to the title track. The song starts with some solid shredding wizardry and is soon followed with fast riffs. Halford plays around with his voice, showcasing his vocal prowess. The track comes together in the vile-yet-catchy chorus that works very well during shows.
Usually, this is the point where bands would have some filler tracks hidden in the album. You know, the ones that are kind of okay, but you can easily skip through them? Next up, “Night Crawler” is definitely all killer, no filler. The track is set apart from the rest by starting with an eerie keyboard intro, reminiscent of horror movies; angry riffs follow with scratchy vocals and what is perhaps the catchiest chorus on this album. Still on track, JUDAS PRIEST offers “Between the Hammer and the Anvil,” a true classic that has enriched many setlists around the globe. The song is aiming a little bit more towards their earlier material, perhaps a bit less heavy than the rest of the album, but a great addition nonetheless. The best thing about this track is perhaps the pounding drums, showcasing the immense talent of Scott Travis.
“A Touch of Evil” starts off with church bells and wind, creating again that same horror-like atmosphere, enhanced by the keyboards, before the guitar riffs begin and take the song to a more hard rock -based, mid-tempo track that offers a lot of groove; a nice little break between all the fast and furious songs. “Battle Hymn” is an interlude, building a melancholic mood for the next track, “One Shot at Glory,” the final track on the album. The song starts off with a guitar riff that feels like it influenced the late ’90s intro track from “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers,” as well as many power metal acts around the globe. Epic, melodic, and very powerful, this is probably the best way to describe “One Shot at Glory” and is also the reason why the track is perfect to end the album with, as it makes you linger and instantly crave more.
“Painkiller” is perhaps one of JUDAS PRIEST‘s most malevolent creations to-date, with a lot of memorable passages including furious riffs, thundering drums, and wicked vocals. It’s no wonder that so many of the tracks, such as “Hell Patrol,” “All Guns Blazing, “A Touch of Evil,” “Night Crawler,” and “Between the Hammer and the Anvil,” have all frequented the band’s live performances and of course, “Painkiller” is the song that everyone screams loudly along to during their shows. Altogether, “Painkiller” is an album that, with its unique character, continues to inspire the next generation of metalheads and will probably always wear the crown of one of the best metal albums ever made.
- Hell Patrol
- All Guns Blazing
- Leather Rebel
- Metal Meltdown
- Night Crawler
- Between the Hammer and the Anvil
- A Touch of Evil
- Battle Hymn
- One Shot At Glory
Rob Halford – vocals
Glenn Tipton – guitars
K. K. Downing – guitars
Ian Hill – bass
Scott Travis – drums