Roundtable Retro Album Review: Judas Priest – Sad Wings Of Destiny

Judas Priest coverLabel: Janus Records

Release Date: 1976

Songs: 9

Length: 40 minutes

Genre: Heavy metal

Studio Albums: 16 studio albums

Location: UK



WarpRider – As much as I love and respect Judas Priest for their music and what they have done for metal, I have never gone back to buy their early albums. I got into Judas Priest at Screaming for Vengeance (1982) and only looked forward, not backward. Does that make me a forward thinker? It was actually probably 1984 before I got a hold of that album. Anyway, going back to Sad Wings of Destiny, which I understand to be a classic, is an interesting listen because comparing it to Screaming for Vengeance and beyond – it sounds quite different. Judas priest certainly evolved over time. SWoD sounds more like the new age stoner rock that is becoming much more widespread in today’s metal scene. I also find it interesting they have a song called “Ripper” and they had a singer called Tim “Ripper” Owens while Halford took his leave of absence. I never made that association before because, as I mentioned, I never took the time to listen to this classic album. Listening to it now 38 years after its release I can say that it holds its weight as a definitive album. It truly led to some great things for the band and for metal in general. I wouldn’t change a thing, but I would be curious to hear what the album would sound like completely re-recorded by the band with today’s production technology.

Irmelinis – These songs clearly show that the origin of heavy metal lies in blues and I understand why this album was praised back when there were barely any other extreme and heavy bands to compare to. It’s more bluesy ’70s hard rock than metal and many parts inevitably remind me of the blues rock band Canned Heat’s music. A dragging pace, repetitive, simple riffs used over and over again until you start to wonder if they are trying to hypnotize the listener. Add to that the hysterical screams popping out of nowhere making you jump out of your chair, ears hurting. At least it slightly breaks the boredom. The sound quality is horrible, the watered down bass sound drowns out pretty much everything else. Fortunately there is a nice variation in the vocals, but it’s the only interesting thing I can find here. This has never been my style of music, not even when I started to listen to metal in my younger years. Not everyone appreciates music with regards to its age and history and I don’t believe in things like “essential albums for every proper metal collection”. Your collection will be just fine without Sad Wings Of Destiny.

ChristopherMammal – This isn’t the Judas Priest that most of the newer generation of heavy metal fans know and love. It’s my favourite Priest album, probably because it’s from the pre-Granddad era. I wonder if it should even be described as heavy metal. To me it slots in better with the psychedelic and classic rock bands of the early 1970s such as Uriah Heep or Budgie. It certainly doesn’t represent the style of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal that would bring forth the likes of Iron Maiden and Saxon, and the very different sounding Judas Priest that delivered  two of my other much-loved albums, Ram It Down and Painkiller. None the less, Sad Wings Of Destiny is widely considered to be a seminal influence on the more modern style of heavy metal that would follow. It is miles ahead of Priest’s debut album, Rocka Roller, which is sort of – how to put this diplomatically? – sort of crap. The band deserves praise for gritting it through to the 1980s in spite of some large obstacles. As Wikipedia mentions: “Despite an innovative and pioneering body of work in the late 1970s, the band struggled with indifferently produced records, repeated changes at the drummer position, and a lack of major commercial success or attention until 1980.”

Posted on May 5, 2014, in Roundtable Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I haven’t reviewed this one myself yet, but I gotta get on that. I’m not a big fan of Rocka Rolla but I felt Sad Wings was a huge improvement. I agree with the comments about this being more bluesy rock in nature. But then you had left field stuff like Epitaph that sounded more like Queen.

    I love Sad Wings. I won’t go as far as to call it my favourite, but it’s definitely a contender depending on what kind of Priest mood I’m in. I first heard it in 1989. I bought a tape at a farmer’s market for $10. It was some cheap European import tape, and unfortunately was in mono — due to the sheer bad quality of the tape it had no left channel at all! I finally got a better quality copy the following summer, a Canadian cassette (Attic records) with Rocka Rolla on one side and Sad Wings on the other. I think I have been a fan of Sad Wings ever since I had the chance to hear it properly, summer of 1990. Victim of Changes is epic.

    Cheers, I enjoyed the read!

  2. ChristopherMammal

    Thanks yet again for your comments, mikeldano. Last year I made a list of my top 100 metal albums ever. “Sad wings” was in the top 40, I think.
    ~ Alloy Metal Mammal

  3. I think the transformation of Judas Priest’s music is pretty amazing. I mean, you listen to something from Sad Wings and then go to Painkiller. What a change in not only sound, but production as well.

  4. ChristopherMammal

    JP was among the minority of bands that change their sound dramatically and don’t lose fans. Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of my favourite older symphonic metal bands veering towards pop-rock. It’s depressing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: