Given every Judas Priest album has been reviewed here at Glory Daze it would seem nonsensical to leave ‘Sad Wings Of Destiny’ untouched, easily one of the crown jewels of Priest’s long career.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Judas Priest
ALBUM: Sad Wings Of Destiny
SERIAL: GULP 1015
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Rob Halford – vocals * K.K. Downing – guitar * Glenn Tipton – guitar * Ian Hill – bass * Alan Moore – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Prelude * 02 Tyrant * 03 Genocide * 04 Epitaph * 05 Island Of Domination * 06 Victim Of Changes * 07 The Ripper * 08 Dreamer Deceiver * 09 Deceiver
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Given every Judas Priest album has been reviewed here at Glory Daze it would seem nonsensical to leave ‘Sad Wings Of Destiny’ untouched, easily one of the crown jewels of Priest’s long career. There’s a faction out there who would probably claim this to be their greatest album and they wouldn’t be far off to be honest, setting a benchmark for heavy metal that to this day is quite remarkable.
While the debut was a solid exercise in early 70’s hard rock, the sudden shift to a more sinister, far heavier metal sound was a major U-turn, offering a radical alternative to the tried and true likes of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep et al. Judas Priest had been around in various forms since the 60’s themselves, but this was only their second album, as they continued to find their true identity. This would prove to be one of many, but would solidify their status as heavy metal innovators. Even if they’d broken up after this it would still be a landmark moment for the genre.
The tracklisting for ‘Sad Wings..’ has always been open for debate, but it would work in any order given the strength of the music. Historically ‘Victim Of Changes’ opens the album and there’s little that needs to be said about this classic. One of metal’s greatest moments the song is supposedly a combination of earlier Judas Priest compositions ‘Whiskey Woman’ and ‘Red Light Lady’ and has probably kept Al Atkins financially secure for the past 40 years. The astounding vocal display by Halford is suitably legendary and the track demonstrates how brutal the guitar tandem could be in the right setting.
Fortunately the rest of the album follows suit and ‘The Ripper’ is one of the first of Priest’s character based epics, a short and evil dirge that surely influenced generations of metal bands. At odd moments it reminds me of similar period Scorpions, but with infinitely more menace.
The imagery and acoustic elements of ‘Dreamer Deceiver’ is perhaps Priest’s most eerie work and a precursor to a slew of teen suicides in the 80’s. I’ve read terms like ‘gothic’ to describe this and while it seems redundant, it does apply in a contrived sense, a haunting ode. ‘Deceiver’ delivers some riffs which were state of the art even for 1976, a precursor to thrash a few years down the line
‘Prelude’ has an operatic feel, with Tipton’s piano work adding some bombastic touches which are a total opposite to the vicious ‘Tyrant’ and its scathing riffs. It’s hard to imagine anything comparable in 1976 and it always amuses me when the Punk movement claims how revolutionary it was. This blows anything out of the water for innovation and heaviness in that muddled era for hard rock. The opening riff to ‘Genocide’ recalls later 80’s Priest and this more than any track hints at their forthcoming direction, especially ‘Stained Class’.
The ballad nature of ‘Epitaph’ seems out of place and is more in keeping with the debut, almost comparable to Queen, the use of piano assisting in that notion. The surging ‘Island Of Domination’ is suitably crazed lyrically and musically and stands up well some 37 years later. It would be nice to hear Priest play something like this now and again instead of ‘Living After Midnight’ or something equally stale.
After problems with Gull, Judas Priest would sign with CBS and the rest is history. Of course they would lose the rights to ‘Sad Wings..’ and ‘Rocka Rolla’, a problem that hindered later compilations but would keep Gull’s cash flow rolling no doubt. It meant little in the scheme of things opposed to the regard this album is held in and quite deservedly. It was Judas Priest’s first classic and one they in retrospect would rarely better, even if they changed their style quite drastically on more than one occasion.
Victim Of Changes