Flashback Review: Screaming for Vengeance - Judas Priest

Flashback Review: Screaming for Vengeance - Judas Priest

On July 17, 1982, Judas Priest released their 8th studio album “Screaming for Vengeance”.  

While “British Steel” (released in 1980) is Priest’s magnum opus, “Vengeance” is the album that broke the band in North America and brought them to the forefront of the American heavy metal movement. 

The album reached number 17 on both US and Canadian charts and was certified 2X platinum in the US and platinum in Canada. 

With “Vengeance” Priest returned to a “heavier’ approach to writing after 1981’s “Point of Entry” saw the band dip their toes into a more commercial sound with lacklustre results. 

In my opinion, “Vengeance” represents an almost perfect record. It has all the hallmarks of classic rock and saw the band introduce some faster and harder elements that have some thrash undertones. 

The band released two singles from the record “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” and “(Take These) Chains, with “Thing” becoming one of Priest’s most popular songs and remaining in the live set perpetually. It’s hard to believe that the song was thrown together in the waning days of the recording/mixing sessions. “Chains” is as close to a ballad as Priest would give us on a studio album for some time. 

While K.K Downing and Glenn Tipton, delivered the goods on the guitars, It was really drummer Dave Holland and bass player Ian Hill that drive the intensity of the songs.  

Just listen to the album’s title cut “Screaming for Vengeance”. The drums and bass literally sound like they are ready to punch through your speakers. Overall that song is quite chaotic, and it is a masterpiece. 

Tipton and Downing experimented with different guitar sounds during recording, with “Bloodstone” and “Pain and Pleasure” having some unique sounds that are still distinctly Judas Priest. 

Lyrically, Halford drew inspiration from George Orwell’s novel “1984” for “Electric Eye’, with the message being that every move we make is monitored by someone or something in the sky. Still relevant in this age.  

The other poignant topic covered on the album is on the track “Screaming for Vengeance” where Halford gives us the perspective of a person dealing with injustices happening all around them and choosing to fight back. 

Sprinkled amongst the lyrics of robot babysitters, hitting the road on a motorcycle (Riding on the Wind), unjustified violence (bloodstone), or a relationship gone wrong (Devil’s Child), there was also plenty of 80’s cheese to be found on the album as well, Look no further than the track “Fever” where Halford croons “Fever. You always get it right. Fever. All day and all night”.  

It’s been 40 years since Priest gave us “Screaming for Vengeance” and for me, its legacy reaches far beyond the scope of its newfound spot in the pop-culture lexicon. It was my gateway album to a Halford-led Priest, as “Jugulator” was my first introduction to the band, and in my mind encapsulates what early 80’s metal was all about. 

Whether you discovered the record for the first time laying in a pile of dusty media, or from playing Guitar Hero, Grand Theft Auto, or one of the litanies of projects that have an association with the album, never forget the world is a manacled place. 

Until next time, play it loud friends.

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