Sin After Sin

Judas Priest

Columbia, 1977

http://www.judaspriest.com

REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/11/2005

The third release from Judas Priest is a portrait of a band finding its voice. At times they find it very well; at other times they choke a little.

All the necessary elements of a satisfying JP album are here: the leather-clad demonic imagery, the dueling guitars, and of course, the glass-shattering voice of Rob Halford. On Sin After Sin, JP starts to move away from the heavier Black Sabbath inspired sound, and into a more groove-centered style featuring the now-familiar chugging rhythm guitars and loping bass lines. Also, guitarists Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing stop noodling with their guitars and stick with the powerful, synchronized style we now know well, and that will form the foundation of sound from here on in. Seemingly they have locked on to the formula for success that would firmly mark them as godfathers of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

JP's music is best served when they stick to the common themes of bad-boy bikers, pseudo-demonic mayhem and thinly-veiled s & m references. Priest was (wisely) never a band to flog their limited lyrical skills too hard. These guys aren't poets or philosophers. They do best when they keep it simple, and they do that fairly well on this disc.nbtc__dv_250

"Sinner" starts off the festivities in typical JP style. The obligatory demon archetype sweeping down on the unsuspecting masses, fueled by the negative energies of war. Now that's some tasty stuff! A good, gritty fist-pounder to start things off is always a wise choice for these guys. The next track is a surprising highlight of the album. You got to give JP some big style points for reworking Joan Baez' nostalgic ode to lost love, the melancholy "Diamonds And Rust," into a great heavy metal song. Essentially it's a revved-up ballad, but it's strong enough to hold its own with the heavier tracks on the album.

The lowest moments of this album sink very low. Throughout their career at various times, JP throws a ballad into the mix and it's never worked well in my opinion. On Sin After Sin these attempts are especially bad. The syrupy "Last Rose of Summer" is just simply the wrong vehicle for these guys. Down-tempo love ballads are not what JP does best, or even well for that matter. This song just doesn't have the grit to play in the same arena as the heavy metal cock-rock that made a name for JP, and has sustained their popularity for decades. "Here Come The Tears" is another failure in the ballad department. This is not the voice that this band should use. These songs just stink and they drag the entire album down. They placed these tracks smack in middle of both sides (back when albums had sides) so they effectively bog down the flow and the mood of the album from aggression to tedium. Thankfully these attempts mostly faded away later in their career.

"Let Us Prey/Call For The Priest" and "Raw Deal" are typical heavy metal fodder, but they sound generic and aren't particularly interesting. "Raw Deal" is a simplistic exercise in macho posturing that goes on twice as long as it should at over six minutes. Cut in half it would have made a much better track, as the ponderous instrumental section goes on too long and basically goes nowhere.

"Dissident Aggressor" is a blistering fistful of metal that finishes off the album very nicely. JP's best work come in short, intense blasts, and "Dissident Aggressor" is a template for the perfect Priest track. Had they whittled down a couple of the longer pieces (and dropped the ballads), this album would shine as a high point in their career. As it is, it's a study in changes, and despite a couple of outstanding songs, is not their best work by a long shot.

Rating: C

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