1990 was another great year for the world of heavy metal, “Razor’s Edge”, “No Prayer for the Dying”, “Rust in Peace”, and who could forget “Painkiller”. Alas, the last album Rob Halford would do with Judas Priest. It wouldn’t be until another 15 years that he would reunite with his former mates and produce “Angel of Retribution”. I must say that Halford left with one heck of a bang. Painkiller is in my opinion Priest heaviest and fastest album to date.
Throughout most of the mid 80s Priest was in a way, was put down a notch by bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. Up until the debut of bands such as these nobody could touch Priest’s speed and aggression, well maybe Iron Maiden comes close. But Judas Priest’s albums got a bit more laid back. Don’t get me wrong, I do think “Turbo”, and “Ram it Down” shred, but the release of “Painkiller” showed the bands of thrash that Priest weren’t done yet. This album turned a lot of heads. It gave the reaction like “Wow, who the heck is this?”
Listening to this whole album feels like one is on a motorcycle going 300 miles an hour. All I can say is that my neck hurts for days after I’ve been head banging to this album. The title track being the opener on the record lets the listener know what they’re getting into. There is just not any time to rest. Tracks such as “All Guns Blazing”, “Metal Meltdown”, “Between the Hammer and the Anvil”, and “Night Crawler” are relentless in pounding one’s head into submission. Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing’s guitar work is top-notch just pure heavy metal greatness. Rob Halford’s vocals get so high that ears bleed and windows break.
The only real shocker was that after the release of this phenomenal album Rob Halford would be leaving a couple of years later. Maybe the band wasn’t getting along very well at that time, but there was certainly great musical chemistry because there is the release of “Painkiller” to prove it. Almost everything Halford and Judas Priest have released since “Painkiller” has been in my opinion very good. However, I have always yearned for return to the ferocity of “Painkiller”.