Told you I’d get caught up on these; now I’m only one behind.
We were hard rock kids who turned into metal teenagers. Sure, we were into the hair metal–of the bands that were really playing some rock and roll–but we realized that by the time ’85 rolled around, maybe as late as ’86, that the new acts coming out were largely backed and brought along by studio execs looking to cash in on the phenomenon.
We were into the rock, and before bands like Dokken and Bon Jovi broke big, there was already some really great hard rock and heavy metal being played. Motley Crue had presented themselves as part of the early days of what would be hair metal with their first release, Too Fast for Love, while Def Leppard got to everybody with High n Dry with those two huge radio song “Let it Go” and “Bringing on the Heartbreak.” Iron Maiden released released Killers. All three of those records came out in ’81.
And there was still great rock and roll coming from some of the notable bands from the previous decade. Van Halen was releasing Fair Warning and Women and Children First in those early years of the Reagan decade, and KISS released arguably their best album in Creatures of the Night. Ozzy was releasing his stellar first two albums, Bizzard and Diary, and others bands from the 70s were still making good hard rock music.
And July 17, 1982 a quintet from Birmingham, England, named Judas Priest, released their eighth studio album, Screaming for Vengeance.
We were already deep into the Priest stuff. Somebody had Sad Wings of Destiny; somebody else had Stained Class. Point of Entry and British Steel were part of our shared collection, and maybe even more albums I can’t recall.
That’s how we did it in those days; there were too many albums that we wanted and only so much cash, so when you bought an album you got one that your buddies didn’t have, so when you got together you had more music to listen to.
And Kenneth Tawes landed a vinyl copy of Screaming. Man, I couldn’t get enough of it. To this day, if you tell me that you would like to get a good idea of what 80s metal sounded like–true metal, not something like Poison or Warrant–more often than not I’m going to tell you to start with this album. It may not exactly be the quintessential sounding 80s metal album–for that you might want to begin with Def Leppard’s Pyromania or Motley’s Shout at the Devil–but if this isn’t what 80s metal sounded like, it sure as shoot should have been.
Yes, this album has “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’,” which is usually one of only two or three Priest songs that people can name, but it has so much more. From the somehow oddly promising yet ominous riff at the beginning of “The Hellion” through the Orwellian feel of “Electric Eye” and all the way to the fade of the desperate rage of “Devil’s Child,” this album offers metal in many of its good faces.
You have the frenetic energy of songs like the title track and “Riding on the Wind.” You have the poppiness of the aforementioned “You’ve Got Another Thing…”. “(Take These) Chains,” “Pain and Pleasure,” and “Fever” all bring it back a little with a narrator who isn’t on as certain footing as he might like to be. The other track, “Bloodstone,” has a bit of many things; there’s a Maiden-esque march, some of those same pop sensibilities of some of the album’s other tracks, and a decent dollop of guitar driven metal rage.
And if you’re inquisitive about what metal sounded like in the early days of the 80s, before they started making albums that could have come with the same stick of hard pink gum that came in the baseball, this is as good a place to start as any. It might take some getting used to, but if you give it enough of a chance, it’ll show you one more example of people doing what they know how to do well.
Here’s the tracklist:
- The Hellion
- Electric Eye
- Riding on the Wind
- (Take These) Chains
- Pain and Pleasure
- Screaming for Vengeance
- You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
- Devil’s Child