All right! Here we are with the second album of our Classical Reviews. Of course, it couldn’t be another album than Judas Priest’s seminal “Sad Wings of Destiny” and everything it means to Metal music. It’s simply the album that shaped most of the most important features Metal delivers today. Just that. That put, let’s go, shall we?
Its first track, “Victim of Changes,” brings it on. Pay attention to the leading guitar phrase. It is not played on a pentatonic, it is a major scale. There is also the pizzicato throughout it, a technique that brings more heaviness to riffing. Not to mention Mr. Halford’s pitches. The thing is, in “Sad Wings of Destiny,” the guitar phrasing is not bluesy anymore as in Led Zeppelin, or even Black Sabbath. It is more straight ahead, direct. Thanks to the most famous guitar duo in Metal: K. K. Downing and Glen Tipton.
It was The Priest that wiped away all that bluesy influence and brought classical structures. I love bands that use blues as an influence but they sound protometal. Cactus is a nice example. Sure not The Priest! And I am not talking about the Sabbath again, right? Black Sabbath is Black Sabbath and period!
Maybe because of the vocal range of Mr. Halford, the guy is a natural born tenor without the academical study, it would be impossible to apply the blues structure that was commonly used in rock and heavy rock back then. There had to be another melodic way. Music in “Sad Wings of Destiny” is ordered to be played with classical music structures. Note that Judas Priest wiped off the rock’n’roll riffing too so present in bands like early Kiss, Nazareth, and others. Most moments it is only the pure powerchord, which gives more strength to the music. Musically speaking Judas Priest’s musical structures are clean, straight ahead powerchords. And lots of major scale guitar phrasing in riffing.
When playing, the guitar duo gives more attention to the sound effects of the chords. The overdrive effect provides more length to notes. Tipton and Downing noted that perfectly. Also, the duo perceived that the emphasis provided by the drive makes a single note do a lot of fuzz. You do not need to play lots of notes to be heavy, it is the opposite. Moreover, Judas Priest are a riff-driven band.
“Sad Wings of Destiny” is a cohesive album. One may feel the leading idea passing through it. It is much different from its predecessor “Rocka Rolla” that was a hodgepodge of styles and textures.
In this album Mr. Halford showed everything he has got. High pitched notes with aggressive singing. A rare tuning and such a beautiful voice! An unforgettable male tone even with the ability of getting so high pitches!
How about the guitar work?
Well, it was the duo that created duos in Metal! Only that!
Creative riffs, sharp licks, undisguisable tones!
Glenn Tipton and K. K. Downing created a single style which was copied by every duo of guitar players in the music world.
Many people forget Ian Hill and his bass playing. But it fits so naturally to the sings that it is a shame to get him aside. Musicians know well that it is more difficult to create something simple that fits well then to create some ridiculously difficult line that do not fit well only to be a show off and Hill is not a show off. He stays in the back of the stage doing his Hill playing with his heads giving the music the impact of the tones and leaving the guitars free to fly. He may not be the best but we ought to respect the man!
Later on, The Priest would abandon the slow tempo songs and the piano in order to be the fastest and heaviest band ever. It was such a pity! Slower tunes came back during “Angel of Retribution” which was kind of late sequence of “Sad Wings.” And the band liked it so much that the following albums had the same touch.
Judas Priest “Sad Wings of Destiny” was released on March 23rd via Gull Records.
Track Listing (LP):
1. Victim of Changes
2. The Ripper
3. Dreamer Receiver
5. Island of Domination
Watch “Victim of Changes” video here: