Stained Class is the fourth album by British heavy metal group Judas Priest, released in February 1978. It is the first of two albums to feature drummer Les Binks. It gained notoriety for its dark lyrics and themes, as well as 1990 civil action trial where the band were accused of backmasking that led to the suicide attempts of two teenagers. Stained Class was ranked as the greatest Judas Priest album on Stereogum.com, and was described by Steve Huey on Allmusic.com as “Judas Priest’s greatest achievement.”
Exciter—-This, right from the onset, is freak in’ classic Priest. For me, this defines Heavy Metal. The twin guitars….the incredible drum attack…and that damn voice. This is the dawn of a movement that would come to embody my very soul. There is no sound like the early days of the Priest machine. This is just fuckin incredible….that melody line that runs through everything….but still allowing the guitars to shine….this is as close to perfect as it gets. The guitars….literally create a song all of their own……incredible.
White Heat, Red Hot—Such an incredible slow, blues intro to the song…..it gives way to the classic Birmingham sound. Dirty and full of fuel for fire, the band it is just in incredible form on this release. Halford delivers note after note that just seem inhuman….even today. The combination of the band and the voice….takes even a mundane song and turns it into a masterpiece…such as this. Fuckin’ incredible!
Better By You, Better Than Me—-When the intro to this song kicks in, it just does things to my soul. I have goose bumps everywhere. The band……like none no other delivers a blistering sound that seems only driven to higher heights by the vocal from Halford. Even back then….the band was a well oiled machine that was at a creative height like no other. Combining the great elements of Sabbath but adding the bright guitars and the vocal took Metal to new heights.
Stained Class—-Man……when the opening chords to this song hit your ears…the galloping heavy bass line…the huge drums and then the voice!!! This track will take you places you could never imagine. This is creative forces all coming together to make a perfect storm. When Halford hits those notes and the guitars soar above his head….the bass line and the drums continue in the backdrop and paint a huge picture of what Metal is supposed to look like. This is perhaps as perfect as I can imagine Metal music to be!!!!
Invader—-All of these songs combined together, created one of the most perfect and cohesive records ever made in the history of music. This track opens up with off turbo style guitars…but the clouds disappear and allow for the double tracked vocal from Halford that never ceases to amaze me….the clear and concise words…the soaring guitars….the understated but huge drums. The melody line….the ability to catch every word….the amazement at the huge sound….I still stand in awe. The Masters!!!!
Saints In Hell—-Recorded with a really deep sound, even the soaring vocal from Halford has trouble breaking the upfront huge rhythm section. And then the chorus enters and the darkness disappears for a moment….but it enters back and you realize it is all a part of the mood and the content of the song….this is just brilliant production. God how i wish I could have seen this release being made…this is a historic recording.
Savage—-Driving and powerful from the very first notes, you still marvel….no matter how many times you have heard it, at the power of the vocal from Halford. His voice is just something that is beyond human. This is a brilliant track…under-appreciated, it stands the test of time so well. Modern day singers could only dream of the gift this man has been given….not to mention the power and utter finesse’ of the band that drives the entire Priest machine. This is perfect!
Beyond The Realms Of Death—-One of the most important and poignant Metal ballads ever produced, this track still manages to give me goose-bumps with every listen. Halford has a broad ability to provoke emotion with his notes and phrasing…..no matter how powerful or loud the music gets….you never lose the message of the song. This is still incredible….moving…intense…..sad and exhilarating all at once.
Heroes End—-Ending the release with a nod back to the Birmingham blues that started the entire thing, there is a power in the song that just shaped the band for the next step in their career. The combination of the guitars……the huge rhythm section….the understated but important drums….really set the bar for Metal bands that were emerging. For me….this was one of the most important and best albums ever made!
***** out of 5 !!!!!