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Hell Bent for Leather

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★★★★½
(68 Reviews)

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  • Hell Bent For Leather (a.k.a. Killing Machine)(1979). Judas Priest’s fifth studio album.Through the 70s, Judas Priest was a very experimental heavy metal band. Their debut Rocka Rolla(1974) resembled a bluesy Black Sabbath hybrid, while Sad Wings Of Destiny(1976) showed the first signs of Priest becoming a real heavy metal band. Sin After Sin(1977) showed further experimentation, but it wasn’t until Stained Class(1978) that the band had fully blossomed into a full heavy metal outfit. At this time, the band adopted for a leather & studs image which became the look for heavy metal music, and they were quickly becoming a popular force around the globe. Of course, the key bandmembers include the legendary ear shattering vocalist Rob Halford, lead twin-guitar assault Glenn Tiption and K.K. Downing, bassist Ian Hill, and talented drummer Les Binks.Here we arrive at HBFL, one of the most dynamic Priest albums in their back catalogue. While Stained Class was the band’s first real gold-prize heavy metal album, HBFL is the first album of theirs that really packs a punch in its heaviness. If you listen to the previous albums first and then this one, HBFL will really jump out at you. Although this is the heaviest 70s Priest album, it’s also their most commercial up to this point. Priest’s previous albums had many longer songs with progressive elements, while HBFL’s songs are short, catchy, and to the point with nary a song exceeding four minutes in length.As for the tracks themselves, there’s a great variety of rockers in the songlist, meaning there’s something for everyone. You’ve got your fast metal anthems (‘Hell Bent For Leather’ and ‘Running Wild), your pounding Ted Nugent-styled arena rock anthems (‘Take On The World’, ‘Delivering The Goods’, Killing Machine, and the awesome cover ‘Green Manalishi’), your commercial midpaced rockers (‘Burning Up’, ‘Rock Forever’, and ‘Evening Star’) and a slow Sabbath-esque closing number (‘Evil Fantasies’). There’s even a touching ballad to be found here (‘Before The Dawn’). Unfortunately you wont find anything long and challenging like ‘Exciter’, ‘Beyond The Realms Of Death’, or ‘Victim Of Changes’, but the album’s versitality and punch make up for it in spades.Also included in the remaster is two bonus tracks: ‘Fight For Your Life’ and a live version of ‘Riding On The Wind’. The former is a HBFL b-side which was later rewritten to become ‘Rock Hard Ride Free’ on the album Defenders Of The Faith(1984). Same verses as RHRF, but the chorus and guitar solos are completely different. The live version of ‘Riding On The Wind’ is mediocre IMO, with the instruments all sounding flat, and Halfords vocals are actually faint and weak there. If you want to hear a really good live version of that song, check out the one that’s on Halford’s Live Insurrection(2001).Although HBFL isn’t the best Priest album (Stained Class, British Steel, Screaming For Vengeance, Defenders Of The Faith, and Painkiller are the top albums), it’s still an excellent recording that no fan should pass up. Certainly one of the best heavy metal albums of the 70s. I actually come back to it quite often. It’s also a great place for new fans to start. The remastering here benefits the sound quality greatly and it further emphasized that this is in fact, a “heavy metal” album. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TO ALL PEOPLE WHO LIKE A SOLID CLASSIC METAL ALBUM.Other albums that sound similar to Hell Bent For Leather:-’Unleashed In The East’ by Judas Priest-’Point Of Entry’ by Judas Priest-’Cat Scratch Fever’ by Ted Nugent-’Cultosaurus Erectus’ by Blue Oyster Cult-’Spectres’ by Blue Oyster Cult

    Posted on February 15, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Released in the fall of 1978, ‘Killing Machine’ (or ‘Hell Bent for Leather) is THE Judas Priest record, the one I cherished the most from my adolescence. ‘Sad Wings’, ‘SAS’ and ‘Stained Class’ are perhaps more innovative but this LP should have a special place in the hearts of not only Priest fans but metal lovers in general. Is it too commercial? Maybe, but compared to their 80’s output it’s bloody revolutionary! Classics galore cover this disc from the mighty opener, “Delivering the Goods” (a call to arms for sure and one of the band’s best), “Hell Bent for Leather” (which along with “Victim of Changes” could be the ultimate Priest track, Tipton is the man!), “The Green Manalishi” (Fleetwood who???), “Rock Forever” (I’m sorry but how the hell can you not like that song!), “Killing Machine”(something about a song about a hired killer is SO metal)and “Running Wild” (awesome fadeout solos from Mr. Downing). I should mention “Evening Star” and “Take on the World”, actual hit singles from the band. “TOTW” could be an anthem and I don’t care if it seems like an obvious one. (Queen eat your heart out!!!). Never have been crazy about “Evil Fantasies”, too bluesy, except for the end which is the best part of the song. Halford is on top of his game no doubt, all business. Yes the songs are shorter, maybe more accessible, but sell outs???!!!! Come on!!! This album kicks arse and any self respecting rock fan should own it. Again, the bonus tracks are a little inappropriate because they are obviously not from the same time period as the recordings on ‘Killing Machine’(although “Fight for Your Life” is a very good precursor to “Rock Hard, Ride Free”, better than any of the leftover crap from ‘Turbo’). Priest would close out the decade in grand style with their first live album from the tour of this record. Beat us to submission indeed!

    Posted on February 15, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Priest come to an intersection in there career with this record,closing an era of consistently outstanding,brilliantly realized Metal music.

    What this album does is offer a glimpse of things to come,while still carrying on with the classic guitar work and excellent writing of the past.

    In many ways,”Hell Bent For Leather”(or Killing Machine as it’s called nearly everywhere else in the world) is the definitive Priest album,showcasing all the band’s strengths and epitomizing what the band’s about.
    That title alone is perfectly represenative of the band’s onscreen image,coupled with that classic,brutal cover art.

    More than any other album(except possibly Motorhead’s “Overkill”,also released the same year)played the biggest role in the sound of the NWOBHM,that would explode the following year.

    Each track is a classic,and this remaster perfectly captures there still electric,modern sound so well.

    Delivering the Goods-A perfect opener,and a great way to kick one into the album,with one of the most unique guitar sounds and Halford telling his listeners what to expect from the band.
    A much-beloved track(my best friend’s all time favorite song in fact),this one is unfortunately underutilized.

    Rock Forever-Nice “riffster” with a good hokky riff about Rob’s(and the bands’)love for thsi type of music.
    It seems similar to other songs we’ve heard before,yet how many will copy the structure of this one,especially in the following decade.
    Still,this one gets alot of points for being first.
    Good track.

    Evening Star-Feel good,”happy” romantic rock,that was unbielevably the album’s single(!)
    A good song,not very heavy,but this has some excellent guitar work and showcases the band’s diversity.
    How many bands can do this today?

    Hell Bent For Leather-Classic pre-Thrash with one of the band’s best riffs,tells the speed tale of Rob’s love for the Harley and the Whip!
    One of the great metal songs of all time,and still a live staple.
    When you hear that motorcycle roar,you know what song will play!

    Take on the World-The first of Priest’s many(increasingly dreary)”battle anthems”,is poppy as hell,but very enjoyable and catchy nonetheless.
    This one actually has a promo-video that exists(rather humorous) and is one of the best songs about the unity of Metal/Rock made.

    Burnin Up-Awesome intro and a sexy riff underlines this classic tongue in cheek ode to mankind’s favorite pasttime.
    Rob’s lyrics are wonderfully menacing and sexy,and when he sings”We got to make love,the time is right!We got to make love tonight!”,it’s all in ABSOLUTE sincerity.
    One of my personal favorites,and a neglected jewel in the Metal God’s crown.

    The Green Manalishi(with the two pronged crown)-Sabbatherian cover of the Fleetwood Mac song,totally destroys the original,making for one of there all time classics.
    Still in the live set and featuring one of Rob’s best(and most influential) vocal performances.
    Note:This was not on the original album overseas,only here in North America releases.
    I pity those metalheads for there loss.

    Killing Machine-Slow,metal monster with a great riff and some awesome lyrics about Rob’s deadly profession as a “Le Samourai” like hitman who “works for the money and does the job”.
    Just pray he dosen’t have a contract on you!
    Great track.

    Running Wild-Exemplifying what will follow in the metal scene the next year,this fast and mean track is one of the band’s best anthems.
    An absolute classic about the way to live life has been copied over and over the year,from Iron Maiden(Running Free) to Manowar(Warlord),but none touch this classic.
    Note:Maiden also stole the beginning riff for the intro to there,”The Wicker Man” from there 2000 album,”Brave New World”.

    Before the Dawn-This band has done many classic ballads,going back to “Rocka Rolla”,and this is one of there best.
    An absolute beaut of a song,that features heartrending vocals and lovely accoustic guitars showcase a deep album track that deserves another listen.

    Evil Fantasies-Another Sabbath like tune,that has a bit of blues in there,which tells a delicious tale of S and M,that only the Metal god can make us take seriously.
    Alternately sexy and funny,this is a great album closer,featuring a wonderful wrap up and a hell of a chorus.

    The other tracks are the bonus song,”Fight for Your Life” a serviceable B-side that is quite welcome and a totally left field live cut of “Riding on the Wind” from the “Screaming for Vengeance album!

    That may be the only debit here.
    Why did they not just find a live from this era and/or album?

    Who knows.

    Still,that’s a very minor complaint considering the sheer wealth of classic metal presented here.
    All in all,a certifiable classic that ranks among Metal’s greatest.

    Crack the whip and rev up that engine….it’s time to be Hell Bent For Leather.

    Posted on February 15, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • The precursors to this album are fantastic albums but with this album Judas Priest had found it’s definitive sound. The songs sounded catchier,faster and heavier. Not that Priest’s former albums didn’t have those elements it’s still all out metal only on this record it seems much more obvious. The lyrics are also more down to earth and the leather image is making it’s impact on the crowd. The rifs are much more built up out of chords than loose notes. It’s been highly influencial on the NWOBHM but also on American bands like Motley crue and Twisted Sister and also German bands like Accept and Krokus.It’s starts with the thunderous “Delivering the goods” Followed by the swinging “Rock forever”. “Take on the world” is anthemic football styled shout-along song and sounds a bit like a precursor to “united” on “British steel”. Hell bent for leather and Running wild are terrific fast song as is the Fleetwood Mac cover “Green Manalishi”. The piano-ballad “Before the dawn is very beautiful and “Evil Fantasies” sounds like a precursor to “Love you to death” from the Ram it down album. Get this album.

    Posted on February 14, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ (a/k/a ‘Killing Machine’ outside the U.S.) has a special place in my heart and is a bit of an oddity in the Priest catalogue. First of all, unlike its predecessor studio record (‘Stained Class’ (1978), released less than a year prior) and its successor (‘British Steel’ (1980)), this is more of a hard rock record (as opposed to heavy metal) – both lyrically and instrumentally, as the longest tune clocks in at less than 5 minutes. Furthermore, of all of Rob Halford’s vocal performances on record, ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ stands out the most, as his voice is much lower and more menacing. For what it is, however, it is a fantastic and often overlooked record if, for no other reason, because it spawned the undeniable Priest classics – the cover of the Peter Green tune, “The Green Manalishi”, and the title track – both of which have remained permanent fixtures in their live shows. (FYI: For those of us who were living in 1978, “Take On the World” was a minor hit, if not a little bit derivative of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”.)The extra tracks on this remaster (as with many of the other Priest remasters) do not bear any contextual connection to ‘Hell Bent for Leather’. The live version of “Riding on the Wind” from the 1983 US Festival is a great tune, but sounds a bit out of place when mixed away from “Electric Eye”. The studio cut, “Fight for Your Life”, is a true outtake from 1982 to 1983 that eventually became the much better song “Rock Hard Ride Free” on ‘Defenders of the Faith’ (1984).

    Posted on February 14, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now