Home > Music > Judas Priest – Screaming for Vengeance (1982)

Judas Priest – Screaming for Vengeance (1982)

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The 1980s were an… interesting time for Judas Priest. As a major force in the ongoing commercialization of heavy metal music, you can imagine how some of their albums might’ve been written with an especially mass audience in mind. Screaming for Vengeance isn’t always like that. It definitely isn’t like the infamous Turbo (released in 1986 and allegedly reminiscent of “hair metal acts), but compared to the formative and slightly progressive rock inflected Priest of the past… well, this album has certainly been many things to many people, but for now let’s just pretend it’s another review on Invisible Blog. That’ll help us stay as objective as reasonably possible.

For 1982, Screaming For Vengeance wins many a point for sounding good and being well produced. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that at least out of what I’ve heard, it’s the best produced metal album of 1982, though it’s only a matter of time until someone insists that title should go to someone else. The high points of this mix are the guitars (which strike a good mix between clear tone and nutritious distortion), and the drums, which are a good example of the stereotypical gated reverb ’80s sound’s pros and not so much their cons.

To be honest, I wouldn’t put so much emphasis on the production if this album didn’t have its heavy commercial leanings. In my experience, this sounds more like a heavy metal album than its immediate predecessors, but I still miss the more ambitious songwriting of ’70s Priest. This also fails to be the most instrumentally accomplished Priest lineup, but most that burden is the fault of Dave Holland, who is an underwhelming drummer compared to Les Binks or Scott Travis. He isn’t completely incompetent, and this might be a case where I’ve been spoiled by the expertise of some of the other drumseats, but a stronger drummer could’ve helped add to the variety of the songs here at the very least. Many of them are eerily similar in structure; often differentiated by little more than tempo or key signature. On the other hand, this does keep Priest firmly anchored in their strengths. Not every track can be “Epitaph” (a straight up piano ballad from Sad Wings of Destiny), after all; ironically, Judas Priest is at their weakest when they try to approximate the most popular rock of their time. Screaming for Vengeance‘s more consistent songwriting helps take the edge off it where on other albums it really cuts into the ineffable metal factor.

Still, this is a pretty poppy and accessible metal album. Probably not a bad starting point for neophytes discovering Judas Priest, and it definitely has enough traditional metal instrumental and studio chops to hold up well. Considering the peaks they reached in the 1970s, though, it’s nonetheless hard to recommend this over those.

Highlights: “Electric Eye”, “Bloodstone”, “Screaming for Vengeance”

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