A vital part of rock history – Judas Priest have spent 4 decades writing classic songs and putting on spectacular live shows. During this period, the band has sold in excess of 30 million albums, and played to countless millions of fans across the globe. In 1982, they released their eighth studio album SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE, containing their hugely successful “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”, the single which proved that metal could get mainstream radio airplay in the US – leading the way for a whole generation of new metal bands.
Screaming For Vengeance track-by-track commentary from Judas Priest singer Rob Halford:
“The Hellion” (instrumental): “We’d never done that type of opening before. And obviously it came from Glenn [Tipton, guitarist] and Ken [K.K. Downing, then-guitarist] at the time. I can’t really remember how it came together in the studio, was it one person? Was it collective? I don’t know. But we were always experimenting, always trying to do something that we hadn’t done previously. We were inspired by what Brian May was doing with a lot of the Queen stuff. We’ve always been big fans of Queen. But Brian was doing those same types of multi-guitar track things. As you get a bit more experienced in a band, you understand the value of setting the scene — we quickly thought, ‘We can use this as an intro tape.’ And we did. In terms of setup, in terms of getting an audience’s attention, it just works magically, even now, when we did it at our last show at Hammersmith [in May 2012] — once you start it, the audience just grabs onto it right away.”
“Electric Eye”: “I love the rhythmic set up on that song. Emotionally again, it starts roaring right from the opening bars. We’re a metal band and if you’re that sort of band it’s important that you make sure you have that type of attitude and approach within your first two or three tracks. It reinforces who you are and what you’re trying to do. The way that ‘Electric Eye’ kicks off is very much a statement, an assertive statement… It’s a really good song and I think it’s just got the attitude and the in-your-face drama that Priest has always tried to put forward.”
“Riding On The Wind”: “I love the way ‘Electric Eye’ and ‘Riding On The Wind’ bash into each other. ‘Riding’ starts with that drum passage, that clattering, and then it just really roars off. It’s probably a stronger statement in terms of metal than ‘Electric Eye’ is musically. It just has a wonderful sense of being determined and having that type of strong and forceful attitude to it. It’s about shooting for the stars. It pertains a bit to being on a bike, riding on the wind, that sort of thing. Lyrically I was trying to take the atmosphere of a lightning storm, or a hurricane, and riding on it and grabbing hold of it. It’s a glorious statement in terms of metal.”
“Bloodstone”: “I know I keep saying this, but I love the way that song starts. It’s got a really cool riff that Glenn came up with. Each of the tracks on the record start off with either an individual riff or something of a musical melodic passage that kind of sets the scene before the rest of the song kicks in. It’s got a great breakdown, this kind of rhythm where – I don’t know whether [then-drummer] Dave Holland came up with it — it’s got that ‘k-chonk k-chonk k-chonk’ thing between the vocal phrases after the second line. Then he kind of snaps with the rhythmic ‘k-chonk’ and it’s a very unusual arrangement. It’s a little bit paranoid, because it talks about waking up in the night and being afraid of the game going on around you — I have no idea what that really means looking back!”
“(Take These) Chains” :”This was written by [Ceili Rain vocalist] Bob Halligan, Jr., a songwriter discovered by Columbia in America. We ended up doing a few of his songs over the years. The label knew we’d recorded other people’s songs before, and I think they must’ve had discussions saying, ‘Well, at least the guys can understand the importance and value of what a song that could work on rock radio could do for them.’ They just sent the demo over and we immediately warmed to it. Again, I think whatever we’ve done in terms of a cover, we’ve had to fully understand that it can be given the Priest signature musically. It’s a wonderful song in terms of composure and the riffage in it. For the first time, maybe after what we were doing with [1981 album] ‘Point Of Entry’, we were feeling a bit more comfortable with talking about songs that dealt with relationships — it’s not really seen as a metal thing is it? But even metalheads have boyfriends and girlfriends.”
“Pain And Pleasure”: “I think we were drunk the night we wrote this. Really fucked up. I was out of my fucking tree! When you get drunk, some people get violent, some people get giggly and some people get horny — and I just generally got very horny. That’s just how I was in those days. Suddenly it’s a complete change of tempo and emotion. It’s a very simple song rhythmically, but you’re kind of delving into a little bit of S&M with the ‘You give me pain but you bring me pleasure…’ line. That was the reason why we were attracted to the message in that song, we were fully ensconced in that leather image by that point. I love the slide guitar on that record, that’s very much in the blues world, there’s a portion of the blues that has that type of thing going for it.”
“Screaming For Vengeance”: “It’s very unusual. It starts instrumentally in a very unusual tempo and the riffs and everything… it’s not quite thrash, but it’s got that attitude about it. It’s really full-on and I get to use a voice that I don’t really use on the other tracks. Everything goes into top gear and I think it’s a wonderful complement to the way ‘Pain And Pleasure’ has been slugging along like an 18-wheeler. Then suddenly the thing lifts off again — it’s easily the fastest song on the record.”
“You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'”: “That song has had a second lease of life because it’s on one of the ‘Guitar Hero’ games. I met a guy recently whose 14-year-old son’s favorite song is ‘Another Thing Comin”, and he got to it via ‘Guitar Hero’. It is a song that’s transcended from place to place. It goes from a record onto radio, onto a cassette player, then onto a CD, and then to an MP3 and then to a video game. That’s a blessing for musicians, really, that your songs reach people through ways that ordinarily you wouldn’t imagine.”
“Fever”: “I love the floaty, ethereal opening sequence. It’s got a wonderful tone to it. It’s got all these big multi-vocal tracks and this very dreamy landscape musically to it. I know that at the time we wrote it, Glenn and Ken were always being offered these new types of pedal board switches that would change the sound of the guitar. Some of the gear that was sent over at the time made the guitars sound like I’d never heard them before. It’s, again, a lonesome, plaintive song. You get the image of this kind of… if you have an argument with somebody, sometimes you just like to slam out the house and just take a walk at night and I think that’s what that song is. It’s a contemplation song. It’s got this type of emotional relationship setup in it. It’s like lost love. It’s a plaintive call to fix something that’s broken.”
“Devil’s Child”: “Again, it’s a strong statement and I think whereas ‘Fever’ is a bit plaintive — maybe a little bit full of, not self-pity, but that kind of emotion — this is just the opposite. This is the real stuff, when you meet someone and your head blows off. It’s a very secure, aggressive statement about meeting somebody that has a twisted side. It’s got that wonderful rolling guitar riff on the chorus, that nice, flowing, almost picking groove to it. It’s a great way to end the album.”
Last month, Metalholic ranked all the Judas Priest studio albums. See where Screaming For Vengeance landed on that list.