- 2 Delay
- 3 Packaging
- 4 Releases
- 5 Halford's departure
- 6 Track listing
- 7 Certifications
- 8 Personnel
- 9 Covers
- 10 References
The album was recorded at Miraval Studios, Brignoles, France in early 1990, and mixed at Wisseloord Studios, Hilversum, the Netherlands later that year. This is the first album to feature drummer Scott Travis who replaced long-time drummer Dave Holland in 1989. Travis was recruited from another band, Racer X.
In 1989, Judas Priest had just come off of two less-than-successful albums with Turbo and Ram It Down, both of which attempted to incorporate synthesizers and glam rock, and the band was widely dismissed as passe and unable to compete with the younger generation of metal groups such as Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer. In response, Priest adopted a more contemporary speed metal sound on Painkiller. The effort paid off and the album became one of their most successful efforts, its songs becoming staples of the live setlist. The title track has become one of Judas Priest's signature songs, with songs like "Metal Meltdown", "Leather Rebel", "A Touch of Evil", "Night Crawler" and "All Guns Blazing" becoming fan favorites. Rob Halford claimed in an interview that the song "Hell Patrol" is about US Air Force pilots flying missions in the Gulf War which started a few months before the release of the album.
The Painkiller itself is one of a series of fictional messiahs created by Judas Priest. The Painkiller is described as a metal messiah sent to the world to destroy evil and rescue mankind from destruction.
Despite the album being finished in March 1990, the album's release was delayed due to the pending much-publicized subliminal message trial that began on July 16, 1990. The band were the subject of a civil lawsuit alleging their recording was responsible for the suicide attempts of two young men in Reno, Nevada on December 23, 1985. The case was eventually dismissed on August 24, 1990. With the trial behind them, the band finally released the album on September 3, 1990.
The Painkiller is believed to be inspired by the fallen angel from the Sad Wings of Destiny album cover that Judas Priest recorded early in their career. He also makes an appearance along with the Hellion (from Screaming for Vengeance), the goggled face from Killing Machine (Hell Bent for Leather in the US) and the Metallian (fromDefenders of the Faith) on the cover of Metal Works '73-'93.
A very similar character is on the cover of Angel of Retribution, also a metal angel, but with a slightly less smooth appearance and with the Judas Priest cross on his chest rather than on his shoulders.
The most noticeable feature of the Painkiller, besides his metal body is that he 'rides the metal monster'; a motorcycle with a dragon for the chassis and two circular saw blades for wheels.
The original LP, cassette and CD versions were released on 3 September 1990. The album was certified Gold by RIAA in January 1991. A re-mastered CD was released in May 2001. The album received aGrammy nomination for Best Metal Performance at the 20 February 1991 33rd Annual Grammy Awards.
Following the tour for this album, singer Rob Halford left the band in May 1992 and maintained little contact with his former bandmates throughout the 1990s. The reason for this was growing tensions within the band, as well as Halford's desire to explore new musical territory by creating a new band of his own, Fight, which forced him to legally leave Judas Priest to allow this creation to be sold. Judas Priest remained inactive for many years after Halford had left. However, the band would eventually re-vamp, record, and tour, recruiting new singer Tim 'Ripper' Owens in 1996, who would perform on the studio albums Jugulatorand Demolition.
|3.||"All Guns Blazing"||3:56|
|7.||"Between the Hammer & the Anvil"||4:47|
|8.||"A Touch of Evil"||Tipton, Halford, Downing, Chris Tsangarides||5:42|
|9.||"Battle Hymn" (Instrumental)||0:56|
|10.||"One Shot at Glory"||6:46|
|2001 Bonus tracks|
|11.||"Living Bad Dreams" (Recorded during the 1990 Painkiller sessions)||5:20|
|12.||"Leather Rebel" (Live at Foundation's Forum, Los Angeles, California; 13 September 1990)||3:38|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||50,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
- The title track was covered by the American death metal band Death on their album The Sound of Perseverance, as well as by Brazilian power metal band Angra, Spanish band Saratoga, and Argentinian bandPatán on the Acero Argentino: Tributo a Judas Priest tribute album. In their own Mirada Eléctrica: Tributo a Judas Priest, the band Luzbel covered it too. British metal band Biomechanical covered the song and was included in the Limited Edition of The Empires of the Worlds. Chthonic, a black metal band from Taiwan, also covered it and included it as an bonus track of the 2011 Spinefarm Records re-released version of Seediq Bale
- "Hell Patrol" was covered by Spanish band Avalanch and Argentinian band Mistica Power on the Acero Argentino: Tributo a Judas Priest tribute album.
- "All Guns Blazing" was covered by Argentinian death metal band Serpentor on the Acero Argentino: Tributo a Judas Priest tribute album, as well as by German power metal band Silent Force on the "Infatuator" album.
- "A Touch of Evil" was covered by Lion's Share, the Argentinian band Lörihen on the Acero Argentino: Tributo a Judas Priest tribute album and the Italian band Vision Divine on their 9 Degrees West to the Moon.
- "Night Crawler" was covered by Dementra, Radakka and Cryptic Wintermoon.
- "Metal Meltdown" was covered by death metal band Aurora Borealis and by Maley on the Acero Argentino: Tributo a Judas Priest tribute album. Anorexia Nervosa also did a cover of it.