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Judas Priest

Sin After Sin Expanded Edition

Review by Gary Hill

Sin After Sin was really a transitional album for Judas Priest. Not only was the lineup in flux as they used Simon Phillips as a session drummer to record the disc, but their sound seemed to be ready to change, too. They hadn’t come to the more pure metal sound that would take hold with Stained Class. In many ways, the boogie element that is found on a lot of this seems like a holdover from the very first Judas Priest album. Truly, though, this is quite a strong release that still holds up pretty well. Sure, there are songs that the pure metal crowd won’t like, but given a chance, it’s a satisfying release. This version has two previously unreleased tracks tacked on to fill it out. I already reviewed some of these tracks for a couple of Priest compilation albums. For the sake of consistency, I’ve modified the track reviews from those previous articles for use here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Sinner

A noisy intro gives way to the meaty fast paced riff. This studio version has never been as strong as the cut is live, but it still packs a solid punch. This one has some killer changes and intricate musical segments. The slower segment, with its screaming guitar jabs has always been a highlight of this cut, almost a metal band's take on space rock and Grateful Dead type jamming. I love the fact that the guitar still screams out in soloing fury during the vocal segment here.

Diamonds And Rust

This cover of the Joan Baez song is slower than the one found on Unleashed in The East. It comes in with more a classic rock, than a metal sound, with basically clean guitars. Halford's vocals on this are somewhat restrained, but still extremely powerful. The cut bumps it up a few notches as it carries on and is pretty darn potent. I've always liked this version a lot, but preferred the live one.

Starbreaker

There’s almost a ZZ Top-styled boogie to this sound. It’s got a great rock and roll sound, but delivered with classic Judas Priest flavor. This one also gets more potent as it continues.

Last Rose Of Summer
This ballad might not be typical for a Judas Priest sound, but it’s cool. Sure, the real metal heads could say that it’s too mainstream and mellow. The truth is, if you give it a chance to sink in, you’ll probably find it to be quite effective, too.
Let Us Prey/Call For The Priest
This cut is a bit strange. It starts with an almost chimey guitar segment that builds slowly, then Halford's soaring vocals say, "Call for the Priest, I'm dying". A short staccato transitory segment gives way to a frantic jam that is just a little off-kilter. The chimey guitar returns later atom the faster rhythm section, Halford singing over top. Then a quick guitar solo gives way to the earlier fast section. This, after a vocal segment, turns to a fiery guitar feud between Downing and Tipton. The ensuing changes and neo-classically tinged jamming certainly predicted the European classically oriented power metal that was still years away from existence. The band pull it back to the frantic main riff for the final verse and outro.
Raw Deal
That ZZ Top boogie sound is present on this song, but it’s meaner than “Starbreaker.” The killer bursts of guitar and Halford’s sneer work together to really elevate this. It’s a gritty song and, while perhaps not the most metal thing Priest ever did, is a great tune. The closing jam is especially potent and more metal than the rest of the track.
Here Come The Tears
The metal heads certainly ran screaming from this one. The truth is, though, that was a mistake. The opening section is very much in a guitar based, nearly jazz ballad motif. It builds gradually on that, and really this number feels a lot like “Dreamer Deceiver” from Sad Wings of Destiny, but perhaps a bit less progressive rock oriented. Later in the piece it fires out into a slow moving, but extremely powerful metal jam and Halford’s vocals really fire this thing in fine style throughout.
Dissident Aggressor
This has always seemed like one of the fastest and most aggressive jams Priest has ever done. A tension builds to start this, then Halford's scream heralds in the fury that makes up the main structure of the cut. The guitar soloing is furious. It drops to a slower segment before jumping back up to the earlier fury. This one is still a scorcher.
Race with The Devil

This is the first of two bonus tracks on this expanded edition of the CD. It is very much like Judas Priest does ZZ Top and it’s quite cool. It might not be at the level of the stuff that made that cut onto the album, but it works pretty well nonetheless. The guitar solo section is really atypical of Priest, with a more straight ahead rock and roll texture to it.

Jawbreaker (Live)
The other bonus track is a live recording of “Jawbreaker,” a song Priest wouldn’t until quite a while after this album came out. For that reason, it seems a little odd for it to be included here. A solid live rendition, this just doesn’t feel like it fits with the disc. It’s got the more “metal” sound of the later Priest.
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