Judas Priest – Killing Machine : Must Own Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Albums

Artist : Judas Priest 

Album : Killing Machine

Released : October 9, 1978

M.M. Album Rating 4.5/5 (Priest’s Final Studio Album Of The 1970s.)  

October 9, 1978. The legendary Metal Band Judas Priest would release their second studio album of 1978 titled “Killing Machine”. At a time when disco was king this record, along with their album released earlier in the year called “Stained Class” would cause a “shock and awe” effect all through the music industry. For the past few years Columbia Records really didn’t know what to make of the Priest. They tried teaming them up to tour with bands like REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, even Status Quo. Though there was chemistry from the musicians, and the bands all got along with each other, they weren’t a good fit musically. The record industry just didn’t realize at the time that Priest was inventing a whole new form of music that would eventually become known as Heavy Metal. A sound that was faster, louder, and harder than Black Sabbath. 

This would also be the time where “the Metal God” Rob Halford would become influenced with the scene of the clubs at the time. Ironically though many people didn’t know it at the time, or just refused to notice it, the Priest, and especially Rob would change their look to the leather and studs wardrobe that obviously would be influenced by his lifestyle at the time (which he kept in the closet). This influence would show up on the track “Hell Bent For Leather”, which ironically would become the name of the Killing Machine album in the United States Since the band’s record label that the title would be too offensive for the American audience. Halford would embrace this new persona, and make it legendary into the 1980s, influencing the bands of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal to also follow suit with the same style. 

Killing Machine would also be much more melodic than their previous effort months earlier. When you listen to the guitar parts it’s easy to tell that guitar player Glenn Tipton was obviously influenced by the sound of the new guitar player on the scene by the name of Eddie Van Halen. He had never experimented with “finger tapping” before, but it’s obvious on this record he does. It would be this sound that would prime the band to begin the 1980s that would be perfected on their legendary “British Steel” album. Even drummer Les Binks would become a casualty of the band because of the new groove oriented sound they now wanted. (This would be the last Priest studio album Les Binks would play on.) That being said this is no album to overlook, as the record is full of strong tracks. Even showing their evidence of the British blues based influence that has always been a part of their music. The excellent cover of the Fleetwood Mac/ Peter Green song “ The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)” is so great that many fans originally thought it was a Judas Priest original song. 

As we learned last week the Priest was finally nominated for The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. If I personally was making a case for their induction this is one record I would bring before the committee to sonically prove their greatness. I personally was too young at the time, but to hear the five classic studio records Priest made in the 1970s had to be mind blowing at the moment there were released. Their music was way ahead of its time, and to this day sounds relevant and fresh almost 40 years later. It doesn’t matter if you know this album by the name of Killing Machine, or if you know it by Hell Bent For Leather. All you need to know is this record is a “Must Own” for any Metal fan. 

— JV  


Side One 

Delivering The Goods

Rock Forever

Evening Star

Hell Bent For Leather

Take On The World

Side Two 

Burnin’ Up

The Green Manalishi

Killing Machine

Running Wild

Before The Dawn

Evil Fantasies

Jesse Vejar

Jesse Vejar

Executive Editor - From Tucson, Arizona. Electrical Engineer/Music Historian. Lover of all genres of music. Beatles, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Allman Brothers. Fav Metal Bands, Priest, Maiden.
Jesse Vejar