Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Judas Priest "Painkiller" & "Jugulator"

Although "British Steel" is arguably the definitive Judas Priest album, I have much better stories associated with Painkiller and Jugulator.

1990 was my first year at Ball State University. One of the first people I met there was named Matt P. (he's actually one of three guys named Matt I was friends with there, if you can't keep them all straight don't worry about it.) Anyways Matt P. was (is) a huge Judas Priest fan too, although Matt P. is not what you would call a total Metalhead, like me. He lent me a couple of Judas Priest tapes I had never heard before. (Sin After Sin and Hero, Hero) Judas Priest was also in a slump in the late 1980s. Turbo was a bit too poppy and full of sythesizers and Ram It Down was too mechanical and by the numbers sounding.

Painkiller changed all that. With a new drummer (X-Racer X-er Scott Travis) and a new outlook Judas Priest suddenly redefined themselves. They hit the road with Megadeth and Testament opening up for them. My concert going bud, Matt Socey, got tickets to see them and by the sheer perserverance of waiting 5 hours in line, we got 2nd row seats! Testament and Megadeth were awesome from 10' feet away but Judas Priest still blew them out of the water. The craziest part of the show? When they hit the stage the set of some pyrotechnic bombs that were about 10' feet away from me. I remember being completely dazed and disoriented when this happened. Suddenly everything moved in slow motion for what seemed like a minute or two but really only a few seconds had passed. This is sometimes called time dilation. One of the best known examples of this is in the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan. I'm probably lucky I didn't crap my pants too! I also remember this happening to me in 1981 when I was hit by a car at age 10. I was too young to buy my own music at that age so there's no CD associated with that incident!

Jugulator is a forgotten Judas Priest album recorded with Tim 'Ripper' Owens on lead vocals. Judas Priest did their first tour in 6 years and I was not going to miss them. It was a general admission show in a small theater and I managed to make it to the front row. After the show, I decided I was going to meet the band, because I would probably never have a chance to do so. Amazingly all of them came out to meet their fans and behaved exactly like a bunch of stereotypical middle aged Englishmen. It was one of the best experiences I had during the late 1990s which were not exactly a golden period of my life, or a golden period for heavy metal. All the guys were so willing to talk to fans and just hangout with no reservations and without security. This right here is the biggest perk of being a metal fan. Your favorite bands are (usually) not a bunch of superstars. Most of them came from working class backgrounds and they still have that outlook.

Painkiller is considered a power metal classic, but I do wish Rob had toned down the falsetto screaming just a little bit. His natural voice is really good and we all know he can hit the highest notes, therefore he doesn't have to sing entire songs in his highest octave. Ripper did well as a temporary replacement. The biggest difference between in sound between Jugulator and the rest of the Judas Priest catalog is the fact that K.K. and Glenn tuned down a whole step for a looser and lower feel. There are definitely 2 classic songs on Jugulator: Bullet Train and Cathedral Spires. If you haven't heard them, download them.


  1. I'll always remember when you played Living after Midnight with the band when we were seniors.

  2. Cool - two days ago I postet a similar "Painkiller" story in german. http://www.mano-cornuto.com/2011/10/judas-priest-painkiller-1990.html

    Reading your blog it seems, that you had the same experience in Hard Rock and Metal over the years :-)

    Cheers, Axel