Point Of Entry

Judas Priest

Legacy Records, 1981


REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk


In 1981, the world's airwaves and arenas were ripe fruit for the boys in leather. Judas Priest was one of the fastest rising bands in the world by then, thanks to the incessant repetition of the two hits from their previous album British Steel, and a successful (albeit abysmal) live album. MTV was saturated with their videos and spiked leather wristbands were becoming de rigueur for teenage headbangers from Osaka to Ossipee.

Little by little, each successive JP album was showing more creativity and more restraint, usually without sacrificing the power that drives their style. With Point Of Entry it almost feels like the tried too hard for a more melodic sound than ever before, and overshot the mark, which results in a lot less of the raw aggression that flavors a typical JP album. Some stylistic missteps aside, they succeed in crafting a much different landscape than any previous (or future) album. Many fans that were waiting for British Steel II were understandably dismayed and thus dismissed it. But for those who give it a fair chance, this album has a lot to offer.

This disc has gotten a bad reputation, with fans accusing it of being too soft. I can see where this comes from. The album overall does lack the powerful edge of their previous work. There's no "Ripper" or "Steeler" on this disc. Nothing that grinds as hard as anything on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Hell Bent For Leather or Stained Class, that's for sure. Still, I think the criticism is a bit unfair. Point Of Entry rocks plenty hard at times, especially on the opening track "Heading Out To The Highway." This is one of their best songs from any album, with its muscular guitar hook and shout-along chorus.

When their experimentation does pay off, it does so very well. One thing they do here is making better use of their rhythm section (Ian Hill and Dave Holland) than ever before, letting them do more than just provide backbone. Frankly I'd never paid much attention to them, lost as they always were in the mayhem created by guitarists K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton. Here they take the emphasis off a continuous guitar riff propelling every song. The guitars are there, but they wisely deemphasize them, particularly on "Desert Plains," a mid-tempo power ballad that turns down the guitars a notch, and rides along on a galloping bass line accompanied by some unusual tom-tom work. The more complex rhythmic theme takes the focus off the guitar, which gives it a sonic texture that fits in well with the stark atmosphere of the lyrics. "Solar Angels" is another departure stylistically. Lots of guitars, but this time heavily processed to sound like wings.

A couple of songs fall flat. "You Say Yes" starts out well, with a bluesy boogie riff, but disintegrates into a repetitious chorus, which they repeat to the point of nausea. "Hot Rockin" has a lot of promise until you realize it's "Hell Bent For Leather" redux. One of the stranger songs, "All The Way," sounds like something straight from The Kinks songbook. If you have access to both songs, listen to "All The Way," then spin The Kinks "Destroyer" and see if you don't hear a similarity. Results may very, but I had to raise an eyebrow myself when I played them back-to-back.

This album is one I have been a vigorous defender of for many years, because of how good the really good songs are. All summed up, the good tracks overshadow the not-so-good ones. It's a mixed bag to be sure, but it has a certain charm that has grown on me over the years. And some of the tracks can't be dismissed. "Desert Plains", "Heading Out To The Highway" and Troubleshooter" are as good as anything they've ever done. Granted it sounds unlike most of their catalog due to its more melodic feel, but I still enjoy it more than most of their post-'70s work.

Rating: B-

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