Song Of The Day - 11 Dec 2008: Painkiller (AotY 1990)


25. Jan. 2009, 7:20

Judas Priest / Painkiller / Painkiller (1) / Sep 1990

sablespecter's Album of the Year for 1990* (RDF: 90%)

After scoring an honorable mention in 1974 and 1976, then making it into the Top 5 in 1977 and 1978, Priest just missed the Top 5 in the heavily competitive year of 1980 and finished a narrow second to Iron Maiden in 1982. But after Screaming for Vengeance, they began to slip, finishing out of the Top 5 with Defenders of the Faith in 1984 and not even making an honorable mention with Turbo in 1986. They closed out their 80s contributions by regaining some ground with Ram It Down, receiving an honorable mention in 1988.

But as many of the metal titans began to falter as the 1990s dawned, and much of metal beginning to flounder in a dilution of B- and C-list wannabes and hairspray, Priest came raging back with the flame of true metal blazing brightly and finally scored an AotY Award! The addition of Scott Travis behind the kit helped immensely, giving the songs a feeling of .

Despite what you may think of Grammy Awards, their nomination for "Best Metal Peformance" for this album was justly deserved. Ironically, in what must have been some ridiculous continuing attempt to make up for their worst choice ever (and the one that permanently lost the interest of metal fans), the Academy got the metal award all wrong again and gave Metallica their second (of three in a row) for their B-side cover of Stone Cold Crazy! In truth, the only other serious contender to Priest for the 1990 award was the album that finished second on my list...

Rounding out the Top Five of 1990 (in order of descending RDF)

Megadeth: Rust In Peace (77.8% RDF)
Speaking of Dave Mustaine's long-time foils...after finishing second to their best album in 1986, Megadeth close the gap versus the winner this year with what a large portion of Megadeth fans consider their best album. (I'm partial to Peace Sells... but have them about even in my rankings since this album is the first to feature my favorite lineup with Marty Friedman and Nick Menza.) Hangar 18 was itself nominated for the 1991 Best Metal Performance against Metallica's black album (their third win of the three-in-a-row), but I can't quite argue that one: though I like "Hangar 18" better than any song on the black album, I don't know that I would have chosen it over the entire Metallica album. However, if it had been the entire Rust in Peacealbum up against it instead of being nominated for the 1990 award, I would have Megadeth in a no-brainer. The black album would finish a considerable second against just the trio of Holy Wars...The Punishment Due, "Hangar 18," and Tornado Of Souls. And yes, had RIP been released in 1991, it would have been my personal AotY for that year.

Queensrÿche: Empire (72.7% RDF)
I liked this album so much that when they came to my college town on tour in the spring of 1991 and I could find no one else interested in going to the show, I went alone. I was willing to go solo (the only time I've ever done that) to finally see Qÿ live. Suicidal Tendencies opened, and it was a fantastic mid-sized arena show. I'm guessing that I had seen shows prior to that one that included videos playing on giant screens behind the band as they plated, but maybe not; this was the easliest show I remember attending and seeing that. It's unfortunate that many non-fans only know the band by their (still way too overplayed) Top 10 Silent Lucidity ( dot from me), but this album does have four infra-red dots to offset it.

Don Dokken: Up From The Ashes (72.7% RDF)
After being so disappointed that Dokken had split after releaseing my two favorite of their albums, I picked this up somewhat skeptical knowing that there would be no George Lynch on guitar. The strength of Dokken exists equally in Lynch's playing and Don's voice! But what a surprise this turned out to be. This is way better than any of the Dokken albums of the 90s, *including* the ones where George returned. This is also infinitely better than 2002's Long Way Home, one of the rare albums to score a full 0% RDF. Part of the problem on that was the rather uninspired guitar work of John Norum, but Norum's first alliance with Don was here and his contributions are excellent, so what happened? There are a couple of klunkers on this, but eight tracks are worth having.

Testament: Souls of Black (70.0% RDF)
The last of Testament's original albums, but I think it was overshadowed somewhat by Seasons in the Abyss (perhaps rightly so, but I personally rank this higher.) After this, the sound began to get "cleaner" and a lot of fans became unhappy with their direction. This one features a lot of long-time favorite tracks though.

Honorable Mentions (in roughly alphabetical order by band/artist name):
Alice in Chains: Facelift
Anthrax: Persistence Of Time
Bruce Dickinson: Tattooed Millionaire
Deep Purple: Slaves & Masters
Dio: Lock Up The Wolves
ØEntombed: Left Hand Path
Garth Brooks: No Fences
Pantera: Cowboys From Hell
Slayer: Seasons in the Abyss
Steelheart: Steelheart
Trouble: Trouble

Is your favorite album from 1990 on this list? Are there any others you would add?

\m/ (ò_ó) \m/

*A few notes about the 1990s. Many of the albums honored for the AotY Awards were found after the 1990s. (I've noted those with an "Ø" which allows you to see just how much more meager this list was at the time.) Coming out of the 70s and 80s, most of the music I listened to faded out of visibility with the surge in other styles like grunge and other genres like "modern country" and remained less visible even later in the decade behind popular fascination with divas and boy bands.

At the time it felt like hard rock and metal had effectively dissappeared altogether. But looking back it's apparent that with the exception of a few big names, most metal just went underground, new metal stayed underground, and the bands of the earlier generation either split into various projects or different lineups that weren't as powerful as the originals, or else took a total hiatus when it became apparent that the demand of the 80s had waned. All of that turned out to be a good thing, since that's what turned out to be the genesis of the metal renaissance that were enjoying this decade, driven by the second generation bands that cut their teeth and earned their stripes underground and by originals that were rejuvenated by the time they spent apart.

But musically, the 90s felt really long and relatively meager compared to the previous decades! That was mainly because there was no good way to find new metal at the time. Almost nobody had internet access until the second half of the decade, and even once we did have it the web was so young that there wasn't anyplace to "go" to find and/or buy it. No itunes...and the great distributors, resellers, and small labels didn't sell via the 'net right away. The news and release information wasn't generally available that way. No search engines, wikis, or fansites, except maybe some obssessed fan's page on geocities (remember those?) And defintiely no way for all of us music fans to share what we know & love with each other: no Last, Myspace, imeem, seeqpod, Mog, Shoutcast, Pandora, etc, etc.

So the metal was out there if you really wanted to work to find it, but since I got busy - got married, started a career, started a family - it was just easier to fill the void that appeared after ~1992 by expanding my horizons a little bit. For a couple of years around 1992-1994 I went through a country phase, and then after 1995, I couldn't really find much of anything new that I liked, so I spent the second half of the decade finally digging into the late 60s and everything I'd missed from the 70s.

That means that I missed a bunch of stuff that was coming out in the 90s. There are still many groups that formed or began releasing the main body of their work during the 90s that I have not yet dug into. To name just a very few examples: Prong, Helmet, Dream Theater, Annihilator, The Melvins, Eyehategod.

Another problem is that a lot of albums issued in the 1990s are currenly out of print. While a lot of stuff from the late 60s through the 80s has been reissued/remastered/given the "expanded anniversary edition" treatment, it's a bit too soon for a lot of 90s stuff to have been re-released, so I haven't been able to get ahold of some things that I missed then but are gone now. (Anbody have Demons Down? How about Twilight Cruiser? Cross Purposes Live?)

My overall judgment looking back is not so harsh as my feeling was at the time. Not only have I since discovered some excellent music that I missed at the time, I also now see that my decision to accept other genres and look into back catalogs lay the seeds for the eclectic interests that I have now. So the 90s ended up being quite varied and also quite fruitful, something which I would never have believed at the time. However, there's bound to be important things that I missed and still have not found. Let me know what they are!
Akzeptierte Übermittlungen
Altar of the Metal Gods


  • GrantRS

    The bad news is, having skimmed over the next four journals, it looks like this may be the last year where our thoughts are remotely similar. The main three I'd be considering for this year are Painkiller, Rust in Peace and Persistence of Time. I adore all three, and can hardly stand to think that they can't all win an album of the year. I think, overall though Rust in Peace would clinch it for me with Painkiller second. I think '91 is probably just a difference of opinion between us, but '92 to '94 I think we've barely listened to any of the same stuff. I'd be having artists like Dream Theater, Joe Satriani, Freak Kitchen, Soundgarden and Psycho Motel claiming awards and close runner-up spaces throughout the 90s. I'd like to do my own versions of these AotY, eventually (I can't remember whether I've said that before or not,) but I'm desperately trying to hear as much stuff to choose from as possible first. It's probably fair to say that I'd be picking from pools of less than ten albums per year at the moment for most years.

    25. Jan. 2009, 13:06
  • sablespecter

    I agree that it's tough to choose between [i]Painkiller[/i] and [i]Rust In Peace[/i] - this is one of those years when it's really a toss-up between two and is understandable either way. I can see your point about the divergence between us, but I don't think it would really be a difference of opinion. More likely, it's just my ignorance of good stuff from the 90s. I really am looking for answers to "what else would you add to the list?" on this decade especially because (1) it was harder to find good stuff at the time and (2) a lot of stuff from this time is just no longer in print. It's just in the last couple of years that I've had access to communities like Last and other streaming services to explore all this stuff, and now there's so much new stuff on top that it's going to take a long time to do successful catalog dives through the 90s stuff. Especially since I have precious little time to sit in front of the PC and stream music... As I mentioned, I've not taken the time yet even now to really dig into Dream Theater. Satch I'm just now getting back into, starting with obtaining digital tracks for stuff I have on cassette like [i]Flying In A Blue Dream[/i]. I do still recall your recommendation of Freak Kitchen - need to explore their stuff via youtube eventually. Ditto Psycho Motel, another band I have on my list courtesy of you. Soundgarden I have evaluated, but I like mainly just a selection of tracks, not complete albums. I understand, too, about trying to hear as much stuff to deepen the pool before choosing. You'll see in the posts for the awards for the back half of the 90s that I have some reflections about how to choose when the list includes stuff I knew at the time versus stuff I've discovered since. I just had to go for it and pick based on the pool as it stands, in the spirit of an award for a particular year. I might have more on the total lists - particularly for the sparse years at the end of the decade - if I waited and explored another couple of years. But then again, there's always going to be more coming to the surface! When to draw the line and just do it? I just heard another album tonight from 1997 that I had never heard before (I'll pick a SotD selection from it before too long) and it scored 63.6%, which would have put it into the Top 5. But that wouldn't have seemed right to put it in the list for 1997 on the day I first heard it!

    11. Feb. 2009, 5:27
  • GrantRS

    I think most of this one I will have/already have responded to in other journals. Probably best if I don't repeat myself.

    11. Feb. 2009, 12:58
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