Friday, 27 April 2012

CD Review: Sad Wings Of Destiny, by Judas Priest (1976)

With their second studio album, Judas Priest announce their arrival as a commanding heavy metal force. Sad Wings Of Destiny is a classic album, establishing the band's sound and stature among the vanguard of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

Borrowing elements from Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, and adding large doses of their unique twin-guitar sound and Rob Halford's incredible vocal range, Judas Priest create one of the foundational blueprints of the genre. Complex compositions with multiple signature changes; K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton trading jaw-dropping solos and guitar pyrotechnics; and Halford contributing a voice that covers the range from dangerous to tortured, often on the same track.

Victim Of Changes, at close to eight minutes, opens Sad Wings Of Destiny with an epic journey, taking metal to places new at the time but that Iron Maiden would adopt and make a normal part of their repertoire in years to come. Alternating fast and slow tempos, regular intervals of shredding that crash through previous boundaries, and celebrating Halford as he reaches high pitches never heard before, Victim Of Changes is among metal's greatest early achievements.

Equally stunning is Tyrant, a track ahead of its time, filled with unconstrained intent made more chilling with innovative vocals, the dead eye delivery of the word "Tyrant" behind Halford's prime vocals as brave as it is creepy. Tyrant adds a couple of brilliant guitar segments, the second of which channels Deep Purple's Ritchie Blackmore, magnified by a factor of two as Downing and Tipton join the ranks of metal guitar heroes.

Black Sabbath receive their own salute on the closer Island Of Domination, a track with an energetic vibe that holds its own until the tempo drops off a cliff to introduce a devastatingly mammoth Toni Iommi-style riff that dominates much more that just the island.

Rounding out the terrific tracks on the album is The Ripper, a signature tune for the band, all skulking notes looking for their next victim in the fog-shrouded lanes of London.

Sad Wings Of Destiny is the start of a dynasty, and one of the most influential albums from metal's first decade.


K.K. Downing - Guitars
Glenn Tipton - Guitars
Robert Halford - Vocals
Ian Hill - Bass
Alan Moore - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Victim Of Changes - 10
2. The Ripper - 9
3. Dream Deceiver - 7
4. Deceiver - 8
5. Prelude - n/a (short instrumental)
6. Tyrant - 10 *see below*
7. Genocide - 7
8. Epitaph - 5
9. Island Of Domination - 9

Average: 8.13

Produced by Jeffrey Calvert, Max West and Judas Priest.
Engineered by Jeffrey Calvert, Dave Charles and Chris Tsangerides.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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