Thirty years ago, modern music was treated to a rare treat. In February 1978 and November 1978, Judas Priest released two albums in the U.K. and abroad (the latter album hit U.S. shores in March 1979). It is not often that a band releases two genre shaping, genre defining albums in the same year. Many critics write that this was Priest's best, most creative period, and some even go so far as to list one of their '78 albums as the greatest metal album ever recorded.
In 1978, Judas Priest released Stained Class and Killing Machine (known as Hell Bent for Leather in the U.S.). The impact these albums had on fans and future metal bands is measured not in pounds, but tons (or some other dramatic contrast of measuring units). Thousands of bands have been inspired by the Priest style of the twin guitar attack, thudding rhythm section and screaming vocals. Fans have hailed the band as one of the best of the genre. Two kids blasted themselves in the face with a shotgun after allegedly hearing subliminal messages on Stained Class, although that's not really here or there.
For my money, Stained Class is the better album, perhaps Priest's most flawless release. All tracks are solid and on the money. I list Priest as my favorite band, but I acknowledge that there is always a weak song (or one I can do without) one very album. I don't think that's true with Stained Class. It's a very inventive, creative record, and a high mark for the genre. I plan to post all of the tracks thanks to the power of YouTube in the coming days.
That's not to say Killing Machine isn't a good record. It has many highlights, including Hell Bent For Leather, Delivering the Goods, Running Wild, The Green Manalishi (with the Two-Pronged Crown) (a vintage Fleetwood Mac cover), and the title track. I also think Before the Dawn is one of the band's top three ballads, although I'm not a giant fan of Priest's ballads.
Here are live performances from 1978 of Beyond the Realms of Death from SC and the title track from KM.