The year is 1982. Thrash metal, hair metal, alternative metal and all those other subgenres haven’t been invented yet- At this point, you’re either metal or you ain’t. There were no CDs yet either, so you had to wrap up everything you had into one 40-minute album. Originally released on the first day of ’82, Judas Priest’s Screaming for Vengeance was a concise slice of everything that gave Tipper Gore the willies.
The Priest were practically grizzled vets by the time they released this, their ninth album. And they’d already changed course somewhat - The early albums were fairly dark and doomy with lots of weighty lyrical themes. Then in 1980 they cut “Livin’ After Midnight” — a good-timey rock anthem that got heavy airplay and pointed the band in a catchier direction (around that time they also did “Diamonds & Rust” by Joan Baez, still the most bizarre cover ever done by a metal band). With “Screaming for Vengeance” they had it both ways- There are some fearsome epics here along with one of the all-time anthems, “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.” Plus a couple of kinda-sorta love songs, territory they’d explore later on.
This became the band’s best-selling album and according to many fans, the best overall. The band would reign supreme for a few more years, then stick around for a couple of up-and-down decades where they wound up losing singer Rob Halford and replacing him with the frontman of a tribute band, thus inspiring the movie “Rock Star.” Now Halford’s back and at this writing, the reunited Priest are planning to release a two-disc concept album based on the prophesies of Nostradamus. We kid you not.
Meanwhile, return with us to those metallic days of yesteryear. For those who don’t know this album by heart, a track-by-track guide:
“The Hellion” - Every metal album needs a big overture. Get your friends to wave the horns as you navigate the Glenn Tipton/KK Downing harmony guitars.
“Electric Eye” - Ominous epic about government surveillance,—but at least their government has a chugging rhythm section. The vocal gets pretty theatrical in the midsection, so practice your best ominous sneer.
“Riding On the Wind” - Here’s where things start revving up, a “Living After Midnight” type sentiment for the motorcycle crowd. Possible inspiration for Spinal Tap’s immortal “Break Like the Wind.”
“Bloodstone” - Midtempo grind that features those glass-shattering Halford leaps into the high registers. If you can nail the vocals on expert, go start a real-life band.
"Take These Chains" - Some fans thought this was a commercial ballad, but it moves along pretty briskly, and the lyrics are open to interpretation-“I try to run but I’m tied to you like a slave”- Being a teen-rated operation, we wouldn’t begin to speculate on what this might be about.
“Pain and Pleasure” - Crunchy rocker with slightly campy overtones. Caused some people to wonder about Halford’s private life, but he wasn’t talking—yet.
“Screaming for Vengeance” - Here’s where the thrash metal practically gets invented. Everybody gets to play at death-defying speed, and Halford gets to unleash the friggin’ fury.
“You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” - You know it. You love it. But remember, you can’t shake your fist when you’re trying to get the guitar parts right.
“Fever” - Closest thing to a slow song on the album, an ominous grind that still features enough light-to-heavy shifts to give you a workout.
“Devil Child” - Sounds like Motley Crue took some pointers from this one, a trashy rocker heavy on the high-register shrieks. What else can you expect when Halford’s been wearing tight leather pants for the past 45 minutes?
“I Want My, I Want My DLC!”
The songs in Rock Band are only the beginning. Each week we’ll be rolling out more downloadable songs, essential tracks (and sometimes whole albums) from every era of rock history. Check the Rock Band website to find out what’s new.
Tracks will usually sell for $1.99 each; with three-pack specials costing $5.49. (On the Xbox 360, that’s 160 Microsoft Points per track and 440 per three-pack). Occasional special or discounted tracks may cost a dollar more or less.
Downloadable content for the Xbox 360 is available through the XBOX LIVE marketplace. Downloads for the PLAYSTATION 3 version of Rock Band are available through the PLAYSTATION Network Store. In each case, the songs are downloaded onto your hard drive.
If you’re playing solo, you can start rocking right away. For head-to-head or multi-player online, all players will need to download the song.