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Review of the Album "Stained Class" 1978 by British Heavy Metal Band Judas Priest

Updated on November 23, 2017

How the Album Stained Class Became a Favorite

The 1978 album "Stained Class" is one of those albums that still remains in the memory of this writer for being a childhood favorite. This one was actually the very first Judas Priest album that I heard back in 1987 and we had it on cassette tape back then. It was just a few years before I would get my first CD player (1993).

Judas Priest Band Logo


Beyond the Realms of Death is One of the Early Classic Power Ballads by this Band

What we have here is towering vocals by Rob Halford, interesting riffs especially in the song White Heat, Red Hot and a classic song called Beyond the Realms of Death. That song starts with memorable acoustic guitar as the song builds up and Rob’s voice reaches a climax. The song is a story of a man who withdrew mentally and emotionally from the world. After the wind blows in his face, he dies because he had just about had enough of the world. Is this world not meant for living as the song says? Life is a gift that some people are not able to fully enjoy when they are severely depressed. This song can be classified as a power ballad because it starts out soft and then the guitar playing gets slightly heavier however in the 1970’s the heaviness was different than the decades that would follow. Depression is an ugly mental illness that this song covers and discusses. If you duffer from this affliction, get help as soon as possible.

Exciter is the Second Best Song in Stained Class

However, to begin the album is another well-known song called Exciter. Salvation is the goal for this exciter and those that want to repent for their sins have a chance to do so. Near the song’s end Rob Halford sings the words “stand fight for Exciter” four times in succession. Each repetition sees him increase the loudness and tone of his voice as he really shows his range. There is an impressive fills section by drummer Les Binks.

A List of Some of the Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time in Chronological Order by Year

Year Released
Album Title
Judas Priest
Stained Class
Mercyful Fate
Don't Break the Oath
Ride the Lightning
Master of Puppets
Reign in Blood
Holy Moses
Finished With the Dogs
And Justice for All
Cowboys from Hell
Never Neverland
The Ritual
Set the World on Fire
Theatre of Tragedy
Lacuna Coil
In a Reverie
Lacuna Coil
Unleashed Memories
Carnival Diablos
All for You
Schizo Deluxe
Shadow (Japanese band)
Forever Chaos
Arch Enemy
War Eternal
This is not a full list of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time but it is designed to give fans an idea of just how many elite albums there have been in the last 39 years.

Stained Class: Album Review Part 3

The lead guitar playing in the second song is similar to the lead guitar work in this time period and those of you that listen to early Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden will hear those two bands use a similar lead guitar style. The song Stained Class has riffing that represents what heavy metal eventually evolved into as it was growing and maturing. The riffing gave way to countless thrash metal albums such as Metallica’s debut album in 1983. The song’s main message is that one day long ago when man was king of his world and domain, he had a clean heart. But since humans have sinned and turned to killing and other violent acts, they have become in the words of the band “stained class kings.” The song called Saints in Hell lyrically and musically is similar to what you will hear in the 1984 album Don’t Break the Oath. However, Rob’s voice is not as high and operatic as that of King Diamond. The song Savage lyrically tells the historical narrative of how the colonists in Colonial America came to a new set of lands where the Indians were living peacefully among themselves when their way of life was disrupted. These other people tried to bring progress but instead brought with them disease which wiped out countless Indians. The song Heroes End discusses famous celebrities who die tragically after reaching the peak of their popularity. As the song asks the question why you have to die to be a hero, it makes you wonder why these celebrities have so much difficulty handling their fame.

The Song Called Beyond the Realms of Death

Final Thoughts about the Album Stained Class

Musically, Stained Class is easily Judas Priest’s best album of the 1970’s and it is right up there among their best albums. Is it better than 1990’s Painkiller album? At this rate hearing this album almost 40 years after it was released, you could certainly make a case for that. There is no song that is bad which is one big criterion for whether an album is a band's best work. Then, Rob Halford's voice is no worse than it would be in 1990. The only thing would be that there is no solo on this album that is as powerful as the solo in the song called A Touch of Evil. But I'd be hard pressed to say that Stained Class isn't Judas Priest's best album. Almost 40 years later it is easy to see why this album should be recognized as one of the best heavy metal albums of all time.

The Song Stained Class

Rate the Album Stained Class

3 out of 5 stars from 10 ratings of Judas Priest Stained Class

White Heat Red Hot

© 2017 Ara Vahanian


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