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Review of Judas Priest's metal album "Killing Machine"
Recorded in London in 1978, and released October that same year, "Killing Machine" is Judas Priest's fifth studio album and is identified as a "breakthrough" album, of sorts. It's attributed as redefining metal and incorporating the studded leather and long hair look into metal (not Halford, the guitarists, bassist, and drummer). Motorhead, anyone? But did this come at a price to quality, being more commercial? Let's take a look.(When being released in North America, they wanted to retitle it since the word "killing" was so horrible and offensive, I guess. But I do not, in my reviews or conversation, refer to this album in any way other than what the band called it).
Track Listing (credit to Halford, Tipton, and Downing)
1. Delivering the Goods 4:16
2. Rock Forever 3:16
3. Evening Star 4:06
4. Hell Bent for Leather 2:41
5. Take On the World 3:00
6. Burnin' Up 4:07
7. The Green Manalishi (with the Two-Pronged Crown) 3:23
8. Killing Machine 3:01
9. Running Wild 2:58
10. Before the Dawn 3:23
11.Evil Fantasies 4:15
Part of the reason I love this Judas Priest album so much is that it is so influential on both the band as well as the genre. This album brought with it the studded leather and S&M look to heavy metal, as well as the bad-ass, who-gives-a-damn attitude (but mostly the look). Like Black Sabbath did less than ten years previous, the Priest reinvented what it meant to be heavy, as bands like Slayer and Metallica would do in the future.
It starts with what would come to be one of the bands great hits, Delivering the Goods, boasts a great headbanging, almost groovy, riff and some impressive solos. Rock Forever, while it sounds great on their live album, “Unleashed in the East,” is one of the less remarkable songs but does have some dual solos that are instantly recognizable as good ole' Judas. Same is the case for Evening Star, it fits decently enough on this CD, but lacks the heaviness for, say, “Painkiller.”
Next, we have the second hit off the album, Hell Bent for Leather! This song truly expresses what Priest was about at this time. I always wait for the 1:24 mark in anticipation, then cry:
There's many who tried
to prove that they're faster
but they didn't last
and they died as they tried!
Hell yeah! One of the best parts of the whole album. Those who crave more of the heavy awesomeness that was just dished out are advised to press the skip button on the next tune, Take On All the World. This is what critics point to when labeling the album as too “commercial.” It's definitely not what I would call Priest's finest. Burnin' Up is another song that can be said was influenced by Rob's suppressed sexuality. It ranks in the middle of the album, quality-wise. What ranks a bit higher is the cover version of Fleetwood Mac's Green Manalishi. What an example of Halford's vocal skill; he sounds as good as the guitar when it plays that riff (I bet he can hit higher notes, too).
Killing Machine, the title-track, in spite of what American dipsh*ts wanted the album to be called, is one of the lesser known Judas Priest songs, but it is still worth a listen, or two, or three. Apparently, Rob is an assassin when he's not touring. Who knew?
Another hidden gem on the disc is Running Wild, which was performed on “Unleashed” and a live album from the early 2000's from Halford's solo effort. This is really what the heavy metal lifestyle and personality is all about; we live as we please, and damn society's perception, damn the naysayers. It's all about freedom. You tell 'em Halford:
The last two songs on the album are Before the Dawn and Evil Fantasies, the former of which is quite a ballad, of sorts. As soft as it is to hardened metal fans, it is respectable for what it is: one of Priest's more emotional and sensitive hits. The latter is another “filler” track, and hasn't been, to my knowledge, on any of Judas Priest's fifty “Greatest Hits” records.
This release has some of the most memorable hits from the band, and, as always, Halford's singing is topnotch (literally, the highest notch of vocal range ever attainable by man or machine). But commercialism is too present on the disc, which also has some sub-par filler songs the band should have either improved or thrown out. Recommended for Priest fans who want to learn how the Metal Gods first started to get heavy.
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