ARTIST: Judas Priest
ALBUM: Sin After Sin
SERIAL: 82008 (UK), PC 34787 (USA)
CD REISSUE: 1990, Epic, CD 32005 * 2001, Columbia (USA),CK 86183 * 2001, Columbia (Europe), 502127 2
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Rob Halford - vocals * K.K. Downing - guitar * Glenn Tipton - guitar * Ian Hill - bass * Simon Phillips - drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Sinner * 02 Diamonds And Rust * 03 Starbreaker * 04 Last Rose Of Summer * 05 Let Us Prey * 06 Call For The Priest - Raw Deal * 07 Here Come The Tears * 08 Dissident Aggressor
The early career of Judas Priest was characterized by a remarkable progression from one album to the next, as the band sought to define their sound and image. The music of 'Sad Wings Of Destiny' was a major leap from 'Rocka Rolla', far heavier and heavy metal inspired, resulting in one of the most influential albums in the genres history. It didn't result in massive sales or revenue however, leaving the band to contemplate their next move. This included the departure of drummer Alan Moore (for the second time), signing with CBS and gaining the use of Roger Glover
as producer for 'Sin After Sin'. Taking Moore's place was youngster Simon Phillips, which added necessary firepower behind the drum kit. Most important was the albums direction, which took the band further into the throes of heavy metal, which would sustain them for decades to come. Here though the style was nowhere near as overblown as the later years and to an extent fragments of the early albums still shone through, only not as glaringly.
In a career littered with classic albums this is one of Priest's finest without doubt. Listening closely to this album fully Priest were so far ahead of their time that they were making the likes of Black Sabbath
sound like ancient relics in 1977. 'Sinner' has become one of Priest's eternal classics, a traditionally strong opener by their standards. The guitar work was less doom laden and more histrionic, with Halford perfecting his high pitched wailing. The wild guitar solos also predate what was to come, resulting in what is no less than an epic metal masterpiece. The cover of Joan Baez
's 'Diamonds And Rust' was probably an eye opener for many fans, but as is the case with other covers they attempted Priest made it their own, still a regular in the setlist to this day. This sounds like the debut album production wise. 'Starbreaker' certainly doesn't, another excellent precursor to the years forthcoming, with a style reminiscent of 'Killing Machine' a year later. Showing they hadn't cast off the elements of the previous album, 'Last Rose Of Summer' has an airy feel to it, ominous perhaps but very effective with the Gothic style some have described it as, whatever that is. For me it's very Led Zeppelin
like, a close relation to 'The Rain Song' or something similar, even Halford's vocals.
Totally removed is 'Let Us Prey/Call For The Priest', an early slab of Priest's brand of speed metal. There's really no other way to describe it. Anyone who thinks Punk had attitude in 1977 should catch an earful of this, I'm quite sure there were fewer heavier tracks than this for the era. If there was then the polish was missing. This was Priest at their heaviest, even more so than 'Painkiller' could ever hope to be. 'Raw Deal' is a good indicator to how 'Stained Class' would sound, but it's still possible to hear shades of the earlier albums, only with far superior production and overall playing. The haunting dirge of 'Here Comes The Tears' is staggering in its atmosphere, very suspenseful in the buildup to the guitar solos, far more in depth in emotional scope than the trickery of the 80's work. The brute force of the grinding 'Dissident Agressor' is almost unsurpassed in the bands extensive legacy of work and not even Slayer
could top it when they covered it on 1988's masterpiece 'South Of Heaven'. This is supposedly 35 years ago, yet it hasn't dated one jot. Its menace is imposing and I'm not certain what Halford is singing about, maybe the Berlin Wall?
Following the even greater 'Stained Class', Priest of course dispensed with this eclectic style, choosing shorter and simpler tracks to gain more exposure and success. They did this and produced a string of classics, but it's never convinced me like 'Sin After Sin' did. There's more experimentation and heaviness, not in the largely cornball way that typified everything post 'Stained Class'. Sometimes I feel this album gets lost in the shuffle, mainly because it was a bridge to two different eras of the band. But it's where they were at their most creative, making this a landmark heavy metal album that has rarely been bettered, even by Priest themselves.
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