By Bob Nalbandian

Sin After Sin
Stained Class
Hell Bent For Leather
Unleashed In The East
British Steel
Point Of Entry
Screaming For Vengeance
Defenders Of The Faith
Ram It Down

I'm not gonna extensively review each and every one of these metal classics, if you're not familiar with the above albums, you shouldn't be on this site! Rather, I will give a brief rundown of perhaps one of the best catalog reissues in metal music. As you would expect from any catalog reissue, each CD was digitally remastered with the booklets containing liner notes from the band giving their personal views on that particular release. The added bonus is, of course, the bonus tracks that are provided on each disc.

Sin After Sin was actually Priest's third album, but their first for Columbia. Originally recorded and released in 1977, this was the band's first "slick" production. Produced by Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, the sound is very polished and precise (a trademark of Glover's early productions as heard on Nazareth's "No Mean City" and MSG's debut) which was standard practice in the '70s. The CD was also engineered by Mark Dodson, who later went on to produce Anthrax, Metal Church, Suicidal Tendencies, as well as many other metal greats. It would have been great to hear this album with a modern re-mix that would give the songs an up-to-date feel. I always felt that if older Priest songs like "Dissident Aggressor" and "Saints In Hell" (off Stained Class) were remixed with today's studio technology, they would be some of the heaviest metal tunes on earth. Sin After Sin features the semi-popular Priest tracks "Sinner" and the Joan Baez cover "Diamonds And Rust." The two bonus tracks include the song "Race With The Devil" recorded during their early years (the same some Girlschool recorded years later) which is a classic rendition originally written by A. Gurvitz, and a live recording of "Jawbreaker." This album also features jazz/fusion great Simon Phillips (credited as a guest musician) who performs all the drums and percussion on this album.

Stained Class is one of my all-time favorite Priest albums. Again, with a very slick and polished production, this time courtesy of Dennis MacKay (who, not surprisingly, is known for recording more jazz/fusion style albums), the CD doesn't display the metallic power of a standard metal album. With an ultra-clean guitar sound (many times buried in the mix) and very little low-end, this production sounds weak in today's market, but there is absolutely no denying the power and energy of the songs displayed here! One of MacKay's specialties is getting precise drum tones, with every tom and cymbal sounding crystal clear, which definitely enhances the true-brilliance of drummer Les Binks (who makes his Priest debut on this record). Binks' incredible jazz-influenced drumming highlighted on these nine original tracks, from the legendary opening double-bass beat of "Exciter" and the incredible tom fills in "White Heat, Red Hot" to the intricate groove of "Saints In Hell," makes Stained Class an incredibly uniquely musical metal album. This album features perhaps some of Judas Priest's all-time greatest tunes, including "Exciter," "Saints In Hell," and the legendary metal ballad "Beyond the Realms of Death." The bonus tracks include an unreleased demo track entitled "Fire Burns Below" (which contains some cool classical guitar leads) and a very rare live version of "Better By You Better Than Me."


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