Who’s in the mood for some Judas Priest? Today, I’ll be reviewing the band’s third studio album titled, Sin After Sin (1977). Produced by Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, it is the last album to feature the former gothic font for the Judas Priest logo. The line-up that played on the album includes Rob Halford on lead vocals, K.K. Downing on guitars, Glenn Tipton on guitars, Ian Hill on bass, and Simon Phillips on drums and percussion for tracks 1-8.
The reason why I say tracks 1-8 is because I have a remastered version of Sin After Sin that contains two bonus tracks, which are not even from that era of the band. For track 9, Les Binks did the drum parts since the track was recorded during the following album, Stained Class (1978), sessions. For track 10, Dave Holland did the drum parts because the track is a live version of a song from Defenders of the Faith (1984). With all that said, let’s get on with the music!
“Sinner” is first and what a banger way to start the album! I love the siren-like guitar playing during the verses and it’s awesome whenever Halford goes into his higher register (“Can’t you hear their souls calling out in their PLIGHT”). The song is a bit long with the guitar solos and instrumentals, but I can vibe with it. “Diamonds and Rust,” a cover of Joan Baez’s song, is up next and it’s ok. I like the steady beat of the drums, but it doesn’t scream wow and aggressive. “But we both know what memories can bring / They bring Diamonds and Rust / Yes we both know what memories can bring / They bring Diamonds and Rust.”
The band returns to their aggressive and hardcore self with “Starbreaker.” The guitar solo was amazing and the drummer was on fire; he was in the groove and knew how to work a hi-hat. I also think the fake fade out before the bridge was a nice touch. “Last Rose of Summer” is my favorite song from the album because I love the melody and beautiful lyrics. Ian Hill added some flavor with his bass, which I enjoyed. But, I’d also like to point out Halford’s vocals because some of the notes he sings are unusual, yet they work. For example, in the line, “This rose reminds you of a time…”, I didn’t expect him to go higher when he sang “rose,” I thought he was going to sing it in a mid-range key.
“Let Us Prey/Call for the Priest” is up next, which starts off with an organ, played by Tipton. I think it makes the track more haunting, in a way. But the organ didn’t last long and at around the 1:20 mark, the rest of the band came in and chaos ensued. I love the lyrics because I find them rebellious. “Well I know what I want and I know where to get it / And I’m going there right away / This is one priest that I don’t have to fall on / Down to my knees and pray.”
Next up is “Raw Deal,” which has a headbanging feel to it. Lyrically, the song speaks about Fire Island, a popular gay getaway in New York, according to the Rolling Stone. It was like a coming out experience for Halford, but not many fans picked up on it until after he came out in 1998, the article continues. I don’t think “Here Come the Tears” is all that interesting. I don’t hate it entirely because I love the emotive guitar solo, but there aren’t many lyrics and Halford was singing so slow. Then, he tried to be like Bruce Dickinson and go operatic, but he failed and sounded off: “Ohhh…. I want to be loved… / I need to be loved… / Won’t somebody love me….”
“Here Come the Tears” transitions nicely into “Dissident Aggressor.” I don’t know how to describe the opening riff, but it sounds like people are marching and preparing for a battle, then Halford does his famous high-pitched scream. The band sounds loud and mean, everything from the guitars, drums, vocals, and bass. “Stab! Bawl! Punch! Crawl!” I mean, that sounds so bada**, right?
Next up, we have the bonus tracks. “Race with the Devil,” a cover of a song by The Gun, was recorded during the Stained Class sessions (as mentioned before). I think the main riff is so annoying that I can’t even listen to this track; I don’t like skipping songs on my albums though. The last track on the album is a live version of “Jawbreaker” taken from May 5, 1984 at Long Beach Arena (at least that’s what it says on Wikipedia). It’s not a bad track and the band sounds great live, but like “Race with the Devil” it’s not from the Sin After Sin era. Here’s a tip for remastered CDs, make sure the bonus tracks are taken from the corresponding era of the band!
So, I enjoyed 8 out of the 10 tracks (“Diamonds and Rust” and “Here Come the Tears” got half points), which is about 80 percent. With that in mind, I’ll give Sin After Sin a rating of 4 out of 5 stars.
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