After their big successes at the beginning and the middle of the Eighties ("British Steel", "Defenders Of Faith" and "Screaming For Vengeance") it had grown pretty quiet around JUDAS PRIEST. Especially the two late-Eighties-albums "Turbo" and "Ram It Down" did not feature the typical PRIEST-sound anymore, one had to fear that PRIEST would turn Pop-music, especially after listening to "Turbo".
But 1990 the band returned to the scene with an incredible thunderstroke. "Painkiller" had been the title of the new epos and it truly brought in a lot of wind, almost kindling a storm of enthusiasm. Although the band always had been one of the pioneers of Metal, nobody had expected something like this. Never PRIEST had been so heavy, so fast, so brilliant.
Opener and title-track "Painkiller" storms away with its incredible speed, crushing everything in its way. Sharp riffs and especially the great double-bass-attacks of then-newbie Scott Travis unleash a sound-inferno.
"Painkiller" to date is one of the most known and loved PRIEST-songs. The following trio "Hell Patrol", "All Guns Blazing" and "Leather Rebel" sees the band switching back half a gear, but without losing even a tad of intensity. These three numbers, too, are brilliant catchy songs, which stand for themselves. With a furious guitar-solo the hefty and intensifying "Metal Meltdown" is struck loose. Rob Halford shows all his class. With "Night Crawler" we get the pure diversity, for PRIEST a quite dark song that just plainly rules. With "Between The Hammer And The Anvil" we get my personal favourite of the album. Not as fast, but with a mighty chorus the band truly satisfies here. Pure Heavy Metal without mercy. With the moody "A Touch Of Evil" it gets a bit calmer and darker as well as with the short instrumental "Battlehymn". "One Shot At Glory" then sets a worthy closing point under a milestone of the genre.
The re-mastered version additionally contains the great semo-ballad "Livin Bad Dreams" and "Leather Rebel" live as bonus-tracks.
No Fillers, just (Pain)Killers is the motto here. Rarely before you could have found so many unique riffs and choruses on one album only. Plus the royal vocals of the "Metalgod" of the scene himself. Rob Halford is screeching on "Painkiller" as if he were the hell-lord in person.
But it'd be superfluous to write anything more. "Painkiller" is the best JUDAS PRIEST-album to date and one of the best Heavy Metal-albums altogether. I think that almost everybody will agree with hits. Who does not know this album (and that can't be many), should really check it out. Because like said before, here you get pure Heavy Metal that you might never hear like it again! Only if Rob Halford might return to PRIEST, but who knows?