First re-release of twelfth full-length album by the legendary British Heavy/Speed Metal band.
This album was Judas Priest's attempt to move into a heavier, more "Thrash Metal-like" sound, which was a departure from the less-well received sound of “Turbo” and “Ram It Down”.
Trying to right the ship, Priest jettisoned longtime producer Tom Allom and his tinny '80s sound, as well as the serviceable groove drumming of Dave Holland, and brought in veteran Metal producer Chris Tsangarides and onetime Racer X skinsman Scott Travis. Most importantly, though, Priest stopped trying to be a stadium act in the midst of hair Metal's heyday. All those changes come into sharp focus as soon as the title cut of "Painkiller" starts - Travis' thunderous percussive maelstrom lights an immediate fire under the bandmembers' asses; Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing tear through a crushing, diabolical riff; and Rob Halford starts shrieking like a wicked witch, giving perhaps the most malevolent-sounding performance of his career. It's a startling statement of musical purpose that arrived seemingly out of nowhere, heralding a comeback that rivals George Foreman's. Once the leanest, meanest, darkest Metal band on the planet, Priest were clearly giving up on the mainstream and instead embracing the Thrash and Speed Metal Underground they'd helped spawn. Spurred on by Travis' Jazz-trained double bass assault, "Painkiller" never once lets up, slowing down only for the elegant menace of the prog-tinged "A Touch of Evil", and without an unmemorable tune in the bunch.
That constant, balls-out intensity is a big reason why Metal's younger generation has come to consider "Painkiller" perhaps the ultimate Speed Metal album. Older Priest fans will likely complain that the lyrics are silly, and they won't be wrong - for all its fury, the title track is about the winged knight riding the monster motorcycle depicted on the front cover. Thus, "Painkiller" 's influence reaches further than many longtime fans might expect: traditional Power Metal bands wanting a harder edge adopted a good chunk of Painkiller's approach, yet its blend of chops and aggression also caught the ears of the emerging Extreme Metal movement, even inspiring a cover version of the title track on Death's final album, "The Sound Of Perseverance".
"Painkiller" secured Judas Priest's legacy with the next generation of Metal fans; it's the point where their contributions make the most sense to modern ears more attuned to Metal extremes (and more affectionate towards lyrical clichés). It isn't the most important of the Priest classics, but it is the fastest, the meanest, and, well, the most f***ing Metal album they ever released! Simultaneously a stunning revitalization and the last great album they would ever make!!
The album received a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance at the 20 February 1991 33rd Annual Grammy Awards.
Remastered re-edition includes two bonus-tracks.
Columbia/Sony Music Entertainment (UK) Ltd., 1990/2001/2010 (5021392000 / 502139 2). Made in UK. Pressed in Austria.
1. Painkiller 6:06
2. Hell Patrol 3:36
3. All Guns Blazing 3:57
4. Leather Rebel 3:34
5. Metal Meltdown 4:50
6. Night Crawler 5:44
7. Between The Hammer & The Anvil 4:48
8. A Touch Of Evil 5:44
9. Battle Hymn 0:56
10. One Shot At Glory 6:47
11. Living Bad Dreams 5:21
12. Leather Rebel (Live) 3:40
Total playing time: 55:03