Stained Class: Judas Priest

Rating: 90%

Jpstandclass.jpgReleased in 1978, “Stained Class” is among one of the most popular Judas Priest albums of their catalog. My first time hearing this album and the band in fact was around 1986. As soon as the opening track called “Exciter” opened with the double bass drums and drum rolls, followed by the fast guitar riff in the opening, I was blown away. Hearing Rob Halford’s screaming vocal performance completely blew me away. Once the first solo came in screaming and screeching I was stunned. This is one of my favorite Heavy Metal albums and it will be for many more years to come.

The musicianship of this album is very good. I love Rob Halford’s vocal style. He is such an amazing vocalist, whose voice is very unique. Then you throw in the dueling guitars of K. K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, both of which produced some of the best Heavy Metal guitar riffs in the 1970’s and 80’s. Ian Hill on bass compliments the duo of the guitars. Keeping with the up beats, fast tempos, and timing is Les Binks on drums. His drumming is epic. No other word to describe it.

Musically, this album has a lot to offer. Great riffs, great leads, fast drumming and screaming vocals. All ingredients for a great Heavy Metal album. The song structures were very unique for its time. The combination of styles on this album is still heard throughout Heavy Metal today. The speed alone on several songs made this one of the fastest records around during it’s heyday. This style of music helped to create Thrash and Speed Metal. Production on this record is very clean from the instrumentation to the vocals.

Track listing:

Side one
1. “Exciter” 5:34
2. “White Heat, Red Hot” 4:20
3. “Better by You, Better Than Me” (Spooky Tooth cover) 3:24
4. “Stained Class” 5:19
5. “Invader” 4:12
Side two
6. “Saints in Hell” 5:30
7. “Savage” 3:27
8. “Beyond the Realms of Death” 6:53
9. “Heroes End” 5:01

Frontal Assault: Angel Witch

Rating: 70%

Angel_Witch_frontal_assault_2.jpgIn 1986, “Frontal Assault” was the NWOBHM was released in the U.S. This album featured half on the album “Frontal Assault” and the other half was from the album “Screamin’ ‘n’ Bleedin’.” This album features vocalist David Tattum, bassist Peter Gordelier, guitarist Kevin Heybourne and drummer Spencer Hollman.

Although, a decent effort, this album comes with many flaws. First and foremost, is the background noise. I know that this was an issue back in the 1980’s with many many bands, but this album to me sounded very flat. Which is shame, because Angel Witch had a chance to among the top of the NWOBHM and with each album including this one, they failed to capitalize on it. Because of that, they’ll always be a secondary band of the movement.

With regards to the music, there are some outstanding pieces of work here. “Evil Games” features a pretty decent guitar riff. In fact, all of the songs are decently structured with some outstanding riffs and leads. The vocal work is decent, but at times is a bit drawn out. That is where the album becomes a bit boring. With regards to the music, it’s heavy and seems doomy at times, but again, the production and the sound just seems so damn flat. Which is a shame, because as a kid, I had high hopes for this band and those hopes some 25 years later have dwindled.

Do what I did, save yourself some money and preview all of their songs and download those that you like. They have some really good ones out there. It’s just not worth buying the entire albums for.

Track listing:

1. Dream World 03:50
2. She Don’t Lie 05:51
3. Frontal Assault 04:01
4. Something Wrong 04:37
5. Straight from Hell 04:20
6. Evil Games 04:14
7. Waltz the Night 05:58
8. Goodbye 03:45
9. Fatal Kiss 04:43
10. Whose to Blame 04:07