Sad Wings of Destiny is the second album by the English heavy metal group Judas Priest, released in 1976. It is considered the album where Judas Priest consolidated their sound and image, and songs such as "Victim of Changes" and "The Ripper" became live standards.

Noted for its riff-heavy heavy metal sound and Halford's soaring vocals, the album displays a wide variety of styles, moods, and textures, inspired by an array of groups such as QueenDeep Purple, and Black Sabbath. Centrepiece "Victim of Changes" is a long track featuring heavy riffing trading off with powerful, high-pitched vocals; extended leads; and a slow, moody breakdown toward the end. "Tyrant" and "The Ripper" are short, dense, high-powered rockers with many parts and changes. Riffs and solos dominate "Genocide", "Island of Domination", and "Deceiver", and the band finds more laid-back moments in the crooning piano-backed "Epitaph" and the moody "Dreamer Deceiver".

Judas Priest recorded their first two albums with independent Gull Records under tight budgets, unrelieved by the positive reception of Sad Wings of Destiny. After living off a single meal per day while working side jobs to support themselves, the group grew frustrated with the financial situation and signed with CBS Records for their next album, Sin After Sin (1977). Breaking their contract resulted in the rights to the album and demo recordings falling into Gull's hands.


 [hide*1 Background


Judas Priest formed in 1969 in industrial West BromwichBirmingham. Co-founder Al Atkins named the band, wanting one similar to Black Sabbath's. By the time the band's first album, Rocka Rolla, was released in 1974, there had been so many lineup changes that no original member remained.[1] The first album sported a mix of styles from a wide variety of influences.[2] Sales were poor,[citation needed] and the band found the performance and production disappointing.[3] By 1976, the band's singer Rob Halford joked that fans to burn copies of the first album.[4]

The band performed the "Dreamer Deceiver"–"Deceiver" pair on The Old Grey Whistle Test on BBC Two the year before the songs appeared on Sad Wings of Destiny. The band had yet to develop the studs-and-leather image that was to become their trademark; instead, they wore contemporary mid-1970s fashions, including high-heeled boots and frilled shirts, and a long-haired Halford donned a pink satin top.[5]

Finances were tight; Gull provided a recording budget of £2000 for each of the band's first two albums.[6] During the recording of Sad Wings of Destiny, band members restricted themselves to one meal a day, and several took on part-time work: Tipton as a gardener, Downing in a factory, and Hill driving a delivery van.[7] The band supported the album with a headlining tour[7] of the UK from 6 April to 20 June 1976.[8][a]


David Howells of Gull records commissioned Patrick Woodroffe to provide the cover art, a dark piece called Fallen Angel, depicting a struggling, grounded angel wearing an devil's three-pronged cross and surrounded by flames. Halford posed Christ-like on the reverse, and Gothic fonts adorned the front and back.[9]

Producers Jeffrey Calvert and Max West were the main members in pop group Typically Tropical who had a No. 1 UK hit in 1975 with "I Want to Go to Barbados".[10]

The tracks "Victim of Changes" and "Dreamer Deceiver" were co-written by vocalist Al Atkins, who fronted the band in the early 1970s before being replaced by Rob Halford. These songs are known for showing Halford's full vocal range, with the latter song containing one of his highest-pitched screams ever recorded.

The album was released 23 March 1976,[11] and the same month saw "The Ripper" backed with "Island of Domination" as a single.[10]

Initially published and distributed by Janus Records in the United States,[12] subsequent reissues of Sad Wings of Destiny have come from Ovation Records and RCA Records.

The cover art for the album was created by artist Patrick Woodroffe.[13]


A short baroque instrumental, "Prelude" did not appear on some pressings. Despite the title, "Prelude" is musically unrelated to the following track, "Tyrant".[14]
A short track full of many parts and tempo changes, "Tyrant" expresses Halford's "aversion towards any form of control".[15]
A forward-looking, riff-heavy rocker, the phrase "sin after sin" from the lyrics to "Genocide" provided the title to the band's next album.[16] Halford expressed hope the song's "strong and graphic" lyrics "to be provocative and somewhat controversial and to stimulate people".[17]
A quiet track with piano backing and Queen-like layered vocals, the lyrics to "Genocide" express Halford's frustrations at a lack of place for the young or old in modern cities.[17]
"Island of Domination"
The side-closing "Island of Domination" is a heavy rocker with a complex riff. Downing described the lyrics as personal to Halford, joking of their having "probably a few innuendoes".[17]
"Victim of Changes"
The nearly eight-minute "Victim of Changes" sports a wide dynamic range in rhythm, texture, and mood, with Black Sabbath-heavy riffing, melodic ballad, and extended leads. An almost classical-sounding twin-guitar introduction leads to the violent main riff. The lyrics tell of a woman whose hard-drinking results in losing her man to another woman. Inspired by Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog", the heavy riff alternates with a cappella passages,[18] Halford breaking into screaming falsettoes druing the slow break and dramatic conclusion of the song.[8]

The track began life as two songs: "Whiskey Woman" was an early Priest song penned by Downing and Atkins that the band chose not to include on the first album,[11] though it had long been a crowd-pleasing opener for live shows and featured on early demo recordings.[19] To this the band wove in the slow "Red Light Lady", a song Halfod brought with him from his previous band, Hiroshima.[18]

"The Ripper"
A busy, riff-heavy rocker, "The Ripper" features arrangements–particularly in the vocals and classical-tinged twin guitars—inspired by Queen.[20] The lyrics of the Tipton-penned track are from the point of view of Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper.[10]
"Dreamer Deceiver"
A slow ballad with crooning vocals and acoustic soloing, the song serves as introduction to the heavy "Deceiver" which follows it. Atkins originally received partial credit for both tracks, but disclaimed involvement in them; later releases removed his credit.[10]
A heavy song with a chugging riff presaging the technical style of speed metal, "Deceiver" features energetic soloing and a heavy, Black Sabbath-like break with soaring, high-pitched vocals, climaxing in a repetitive acoustic closing.[21]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [12]
Sputnikmusic 4.5/5 [22]

Sad Wings of Destiny peaked at 48 in the UK, and was awarded a gold record in 1989. In the heavy metal-averse Rolling Stone Kris Nicholson gave the album a positive review, comparing it favourably to Deep Purple's Machine Head of 1972.[7]

Despite the lack of commercial success the album received, it was widely praised by critics, and earned the band a small, but dedicated cult following on both sides of the Atlantic. Today, the album is widely considered to be one of the most important and influential heavy metal albums of all time. Sputnikmusic's Brendan Schroer says that the album, "is the record in which the band came into their own."[22] Martin Popoff, in his book, The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal, cites the album's "reinvention" of the heavy metal genre.[23] Tracks such as "Victim of Changes", "The Ripper", "Dreamer Deceiver", and "Tyrant" became fan favorites over the years.


The band, fans, and critics have come to see Sad Wings of Destiny as the album on which the band consolidated their sound and image.[24]

The band had grown disatisfied with Gull;[25] the tight fininces led Moore to leave the band a second time—this time permanently.[26] The album caught the attention of CBS Records, and with the help of new manager David Hemmings, the band signed with CBS and received a £60,000 budget for their next record, Sin After Sin (1977). The signing required breaking their contract with Gull, resulting in the rights to the first two albums and all related recordings—including demos—becoming property of Gull.[25]

While the band lost the rights to recording royalties, they obtained copyright ownership of the songs themselves, many of which became staples for their live shows. "Victim of Changes", "The Ripper", "Tyrant" and "Genocide" appear on Unleashed in the East, a live album released by CBS in 1979. "Diamonds & Rust" — a Joan Baez song originally recorded for Sad Wings but omitted from the final album — was re-recorded for Sin After Sin, their first CBS release, and also appears on Unleashed. Gull later released the band's original recording of "Diamonds & Rust" on a 'best of' album and their re-release ofRocka Rolla, while a demo recording from this era of the song "Mother Sun" — which was performed live in 1975 — remains unreleased except for a cover version by Swedish metal band Portrait on a 2014 CD single.[27]

The album still has significant traces of progressive rock, notably in the multi-sectioned "Victim of Changes", the proggy space ballad "Dreamer Deceiver", the technique of most of the album tracks segueinginto one another, and the philosophical lyrics, as well as lingering elements of Black SabbathLed Zeppelin, and Deep Purple. Despite this, it was a significant progression in style from the band's debut album, which had nothing resembling heavy metal on it. In particular, the aforementioned "Victim of Changes", "The Ripper", and especially "Tyrant", were notable for being the heaviest songs released up till that time.

It is the first album in which all the notable characteristics of the band fell firmly into place, with Rob Halford's wide vocal range, KK Downing's and Glenn Tipton's dueling guitars, and dark heavy metal songs.

Dave Mustaine of Megadeth relates that a brother-in-law punched him in the face for listening to Sad Wings of Destiny; Mustaine called this a turning point, where he chose heavy metal as a career as "revenge".[28]

Sad Wings Of Destiny became a favorite album for live performances, with only two tracks ("Prelude" and the guitar-less "Epitaph") having never been played in concert. "Victim Of Changes" is the band's single most performed song, with 897 plays through 2012.

Al Atkins recorded the original version of "Victim of Changes" for his album Victim of Changes of 1988.

In 2011, Sad Wings of Destiny and Rocka Rolla were remastered for the first time.

Track listing[edit]Edit

Side A
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Victim of Changes"   Al AtkinsGlenn TiptonRob HalfordK. K. Downing 7:47
2. "The Ripper"   Tipton 2:50
3. "Dreamer Deceiver"   Atkins, Halford, Downing, Tipton 5:51
4. "Deceiver"   Halford, Downing, Tipton 2:40
Side B
No. Title Writer(s) Length
5. "Prelude"   Tipton 2:02
6. "Tyrant"   Halford, Tipton 4:28
7. "Genocide"   Halford, Downing, Tipton 5:51
8. "Epitaph"   Tipton 3:08
9. "Island of Domination"   Halford, Downing, Tipton 4:32

The track listing on the original Gull Records pressing puts the songs on side B before those of side A, thus opening with "Prelude" and closing with "Deceiver". Early CD releases reverted the track listing, opening with "Victim of Changes". A 1995 CD reissue by Repertoire Records had track 3 labelled as "Dream Deceiver" rather than "Dreamer Deceiver". This was later changed back to its original title on the 1998 release by Snapper Music.[citation needed] Judas Priest endorsed none of these reissues.[29] The band's Complete Albums collection of 2011 uses the "Prelude"-opened track listing for the Sad Wings of Destiny disc.[citation needed]




Cover versions[edit]Edit

  • Overkill performed "Tyrant", on the album Coverkill.
  • Iced Earth covered "The Ripper" for a bonus track on digipak editions of their 1996 album The Dark Saga. The song later appeared on The Melancholy EP and the 2008 reissue of Something Wicked This Way Comes.
  • Steel Tyrant covered "Tyrant" on their 'Live at Jailbreak, along with other Priest's classics. .
  • Icarus Witch also covered "The Ripper" for their 2010 album Draw Down the Moon.
  • Gamma Ray covered "Victim of Changes" in Tribute to Judas Priest Album.
  • Mercyful Fate covered "The Ripper" on the Judas Priest cover album A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal.
  • Skyclad covered "Dreamer Deceiver" for a tribute album.
  • Reverend Bizarre covered "Deceiver" for their 7" EP Dark World/Deceiver.
  • Agent Steel covered "The Ripper" on their EP Mad Locust Rising.
  • Portrait covered the unreleased demo/live track "Mother Sun" on their 2014 CD single "We Were Not Alone" [30]
  • Metal Musician Alec Sullivan released a cover of the infamously unreleased track "Mother Sun" on Youtube as a single in July 2014.[31]


  1. Jump up^ The band also headlined a single show that July at the Roundhouse.[7]
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