In 1978 "Stained Class“ was released, one of the most important albums of the then still young history of Metal. As for the music, the Britons stayed true to their verified style with their fourth album and delivered another Metal masterpiece. It contains such immortal hymns as “Exciter”, “Better By You, Better Than Me”, “Invader” and especially the goose-skin-track “Beyond The Realms Of Death”, one of the most beautiful Metal epics ever.
This album, recorded in 1978, especially distinguishes itself through its variety. It begins with the, for the circumstances back then, very fast track "Exciter“ which you can confidently call a kind of outrider of Speed/Thrash Metal today. The lead guitars run through the whole album like a common thread and are hardly surpassable anymore in terms of complexity and melody. The riffs on the CD are often captivatingly played although they stay complex so that this album doesn’t seem boring even during the umpteenth listening. For me the downright ingenious “Better By You Better Than Me” is another climax. Hardly any other band manages to put that much atmosphere into one single song.
With "Stained Class“ JUDAS PRIEST finally crack the German music market, too, and tour through Germany with AC/DC on their “Highway To Hell” tour. On this tour the band around front siren Rob Halford sets trends that manifested themselves and have partly become a cliché: completely in leather and spikes dress singer Rob Halford rushes on stage with a Harley at each gig.
In the same year another PRIEST milestone was released, "Killing Machine“, which indeed didn’t completely reach "Stained Class“ but yet represents a cult album par excellence. If better or worse is nitpicking anyway. It’s for sure that JUDAS PRIEST were indeed slightly more complex in the seventies than in later times but yet timeless and exciting. (Online July 7, 2004)