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A Review of the Album Painkiller by British Heavy Metal Band Judas Priest Is It Their Best Album?

Updated on March 26, 2020
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Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is looking to always explore his writing opportunities.

Painkiller: the front album cover

Track Listing for the album Painkiller (2001 re-mastered version)

  1. Painkiller
  2. Hell Patrol
  3. All Guns Blazing
  4. Leather Rebel
  5. Metal Meltdown
  6. Night Crawler
  7. Between the Hammer & The Anvil
  8. A Touch of Evil
  9. Battle Hymn (instrumental)
  10. One Shot at Glory
  11. Living Bad Dreams
  12. Leather Rebel (LIVE version)

Note: the songs listed in italics are the bonus tracks for the re-mastered version of this album.

Some background information about the album Painkiller and the style

Painkiller is the classic 1990 album by British heavy metal band Judas Priest. This may be their best album that they have written. It is one of those albums that stands out even years after its release. The album features the entry of Scott Travis on drums. He replaced Dave Holland who had left the band in 1989. The album also features the production work of Chris Tsangarides. Tom Allom had produced Judas Priest’s albums during the 1980’s. It is a radical change and departure for their hard rock influenced albums of the previous decade. It is not groovy thrash like Cowboys From Hell but it is a more straightforward heavy metal album. But it really works out very well for this band.

Painkiller: the Review Covering the Songs Painkiller Through Nightcrawler

The album opens with the fast title track Painkiller. It is about a half human half monster like creature that is riding fast on a motorcycle. As the world is being devastated it is only a matter of time before the savior comes to free the world from its pain. The end of the song features the impressive vocal range of Rob Halford as he is able to hold the singing for what seems like an eternity. Some of the songs on this album are on the 2 CD set called Metal Works 73-93. One of them is this song. The other songs on that 2 CD set are Metal Meltdown and a Touch of Evil. However, on that 2 CD set, the lead guitar work by Glenn Tipton in the beginning is not included and it jumps straight into the song. Night Crawler is about trying to prepare for the coming for a black creature that is known for going after its victims and tearing them apart. Is Painkiller the best album musically for Judas Priest? It is tough to say because albums such as Ram It Down and Screaming for Vengeance certainly deserve consideration as well for the musical aspect. One thing is for sure: Painkiller has more than enough to satisfy the avid heavy metal fan.

The second half of the album has the amazing song A Touch of Evil

A Touch of Evil starts with the sound of a bell and it has this spooky atmosphere which really sets the tone for the song. It has one of the best guitar solos that you will ever hear! The solo has feeling and passion and it is exciting to listen to. If Brain Dance is an Annihilator song that is a classic no matter how many times you hear it, then A Touch of Evil is another example of a song that never loses its greatness. If you only have one Judas Priest album, this would be the one to have in your collection. There are no bad songs on this album and the guitar work will leave guitar players around the world very impressed. Judas Priest would go on a hiatus period following Halford’s departure. They would reform in 1996 and record the album Jugulator in 1997 with Tim “Ripper” Owens on vocals. However, they have not been able to match the greatness that is on the album Painkiller. I would give the album a score of 92 out of 100 points.

The song called A Touch of Evil (best song on the album)

As of 2018 the Album Painkiller is Very Good But Not Quite the Best for Judas Priest

Note: since the writing of this review the opinion of this writer is different in 2018. It is a close call but I have to say that 1978’s Stained Class is better than this album though I will not take anything away from this 1990 album as it should be regarded as one of the best albums of 1990. But in terms of a songwriting standpoint, Stained Class is slightly better.

Favorite song on the album Painkiller

What is your favorite song on the album Painkiller?

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"Painkiller" Song Only

© 2016 Ara Vahanian


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