Screaming For Vengeance is the world’s favorite Judas Priest album. Released in 1982, the British metal masters’ eighth studio album was, and remains, their biggest seller. Is it their best album? That’s arguable. I’m partial to 1978’s Stained Class. But when a band shoots from underground-ish heroes to celestial stars, like Priest did with Screaming For Vengeance (or Metallica did with The Black Album, or AC/DC did with Back in Black), it’s more than the music on a given album that sets the fuse alight. Rob Halford knows this as well as anyone. “I don’t think we had any special sense when we were recording Screaming For Vengeance that it was going to be this huge album for us,” says the iconic lead singer just a few days before the album was given the reissue treatment to celebrate it’s 30th anniversary. “We were doing what we always do, which is jamming riffs and vocal melodies. There was a great sense of ‘Here we go again.'”
The album, which in its reissued form is paired with a DVD of the band’s performance at the 1983 US Festival, may have been born from workmanlike conditions, but thanks in large part to the hit single “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”, and a batch of concise, punchy songs that consolidated the approachable sounds of 1980’s British Steel and 1981’s Point of Entry, it quickly assumed an outsize place in the Priest canon. “British Steel did a lot for us in terms of establishing ourselves as more than a European band,” says Halford. “And then ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Coming’ got us on MTV. So our success at that time was the result of development. I love Screaming For Vengeance, but I can’t say that it’s success has solely to do with the music.”
It does though, argues Halford, have something to do with the album’s striking cover artwork. The image of a metallic bird of prey, dubbed “The Hellion,” has become one of the band’ signature visuals. “I was looking through a Roget’s Thesaurus and came across the word ‘hellion,'” recalls Halford. “I thought, ‘That’s us. That’s what metalheads are.’ We had the album title already. From there and the word hellion, we somehow got to the idea of a screaming eagle kind of bird. The artist, Doug Johnson did a great job of translating that. Imagine seeing that in a record store? Even if you didn’t know the band, you’d be curious.”
Though Halford has been spending time listening back to an album recorded so long ago, he insists that the lean viciousness contained on Screaming For Vengeance will have no bearing on future Priest product. “I can’t tell you anything about new material because I’m under firing squad threat from management,” he insists, “but the only influence our older material ever has on our new material is to remind us to try new things. Mostly, though,” he says, “it reminds us to get the riffs cranking.”
To help celebrate some of Judas Priest’s most memorable riffs, we’ve got a Screaming For Vengeance giveaway for all you hellions out there. Enter your name and email address below. One lucky winner will be chosen at random to receive a limited edition 24″ x 24″ inch limited edition Screaming For Vengeance signed print.
Enter below, and tell us in the comments what your favorite Screaming song is and why. Or is there a Priest album you think is better? Let us know, and good luck!