Top critical review
Too little, too late
on May 10, 2004
To be sure, 'Painkiller' (1990), the last record to feature Rob Halford on vocals, was a well-intended middle-finger to the forces behind the ridiculous suicide litigation and the abandonment of radio. However, aside from "Touch of Evil" and the title track, those Priest fans who were there from the beginning found it to be a little too little, little too late. That is, the scant lyrics have to be arguably the most inane of any Priest record, and the speed metal thing (i.e., the idea that speed=good music, personified in the addition of Racer-X drummer, Scott Travis) came about a full two years after the trend emerged. Unfortunately, despite the fact that speed-kings Metallica successfully brought back the traditional Prist style of letting the chords ring with its eponymous 1991 smash record, Priest's downward spiral into the irrelevant would nonetheless continue with the 'Ripper' Owens records, 'Jugulator' (1997) and 'Demolition' (2001).
At least there is some good news. Unlike most of the Priest remasters, at least the extra tracks have a connection to the underlying record. We have a live version of "Leather Rebel" (taken from the same 1990 LA show as "Better By You, Better Than Me" on the 'Stained Class' remaster) and a decent outtake, "Living Bad Dreams", from the 'Painkiller' sessions that was probably left off the original record because it was a ballad (god forbid!)