Distinguished by dual magnesium-burn guitars, leather-tough percussion, molten-hot melodies, and the unmistakable piercing falsetto of operatic vocalist, Screaming for Vengeance found Judas Priest laying waste to its contemporaries' softer, cheesier hard-rock styles. An effort on which precision-based speed, mainstream accessibility, and resilient attitude meet in equilibrium, the 1982 set remains the British metal legends' top-selling record. Staked by the breakout "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," which burns white-hot with foot-pounding riffs, prize-fighting percussion, and singer Rob Halford's gun-for-hire blare, Screaming for Vengeance clutches hold of the jugular and doesn't let go. A return to the band's gritty, purist roots, the record revisits the themes of darkness, menace, and the unknown firmly established on the pioneering Stained Class and Killing Machine.
With the one-two opening tandem of the instrumental "The Hellion" and stomping "Electric Eye," Priest sounds utterly futuristic and terrifying, the instruments seemingly on a swivel and the sawed-off tones flooding the guitar solos with intimidation. A classic head-out-to-the highway anthem ("Riding on the Wind"), a racing proto-thrash banger ("Screaming for Vengeance"), and a scorching exorcism ("Devil's Child") function as the metal-hued bolts that hold the foundations of this Top 20-charting benchmark in place. Perhaps more so here than on any other record, Priest spit-shines hooks and collusive six-string harmonic leads to perfection, giving listeners yin-yang doses of pain and pleasure, sweet and bitter. Songs at once invite sing-a-longs and fist-pumping responses. Screaming for Vengeance marked the last time Priest would sound this heavy in the '80s.