Painkiller (Judas Priest album)

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Studio album by Judas Priest
Released 3 September 1990 (1990-09-03)
Recorded January–March 1990, Miraval Studios, France and Wisseloord Studios, Holland
Length 54:38
Label Columbia
Producer Judas Priest and Chris Tsangarides
Judas Priest chronology
Ram It Down
Singles from Painkiller
  1. "Painkiller"
    Released: 1990
  2. "A Touch of Evil"
    Released: 1991
  3. "Night Crawler"
    Released: 1992
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[4]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[citation needed]
Sputnikmusic 5.0/5[1]

Painkiller is the twelfth studio album by British heavy metal band Judas Priest, released in September 1990. It is the last Judas Priest album to feature lead singer Rob Halford until his return for the 2005 album Angel of Retribution and the first to feature drummer Scott Travis .


Painkiller is the first Judas Priest album to feature drummer Scott Travis, who replaced long-time drummer Dave Holland in 1989. Travis was previously a member of Los Angeles band Racer X. The album was recorded at Miraval Studios, Brignoles, France in early 1990, and mixed at Wisseloord Studios, Hilversum, the Netherlands later that year.

In 1989, Judas Priest had just come off of two of their less successful[citation needed] albums with Turbo and Ram It Down, both of which attempted to incorporate synthesizers and glam rock elements, and the band was widely dismissed as passe and unable to compete with the younger generation of metal groups such as Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer[citation needed]. In response, Priest adopted a more contemporary speed metal sound on Painkiller.[4] The effort paid off and the album became one of their most successful efforts, its songs becoming staples of their live setlist. 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.[citation needed]


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 16 July 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 23 December 1985. The case was eventually dismissed on 24 August 1990. With the trial behind them, the band finally released the album on 3 September 1990.


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 a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance at the 20 February 1991 33rd Annual Grammy Awards.

Halford's departure[edit]

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 several 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 Jugulator and Demolition.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Glenn Tipton, Rob Halford and K. K. Downing, except where noted. 

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Painkiller"     6:06
2. "Hell Patrol"     3:35
3. "All Guns Blazing"     3:56
4. "Leather Rebel"     3:34
5. "Metal Meltdown"     4:46
6. "Night Crawler"     5:44
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



Chart (1990) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[6] 60
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[7] 22
German Albums (Official Top 100)[8] 7
New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)[9] 27
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[10] 19
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[11] 19
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[12] 14
UK Albums (OCC)[13] 26
US Billboard 200[14] 26


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[15] Gold 50,000^
United States (RIAA)[16] Gold 500,000^
Worldwide sales: 2,000,000

^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b c Stagno, Mike (4 August 2006). "Judas Priest – Painkiller". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Sharpe-Young, Garry (2007). Metal: The Definitive Guide. Jawbone Press. pp. 39–40. ISBN 9781906002015. All in all, Painkiller put Judas Priest back at the top of the heavy metal pile. 
  3. ^ Popoff, Martin (2004). The Top 500 Heavy Metal Albums of All Time. ECW Press. pp. 63–4. ISBN 9781554902453. 
  4. ^ a b c d Huey, Steve (4 August 2006). "Judas Priest – Painkiller". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "The 10 greatest ever drum intros". Rhythm Magazine. 30 October 2014. 
  6. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. 
  7. ^ "Judas Priest – Painkiller" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  8. ^ "Judas Priest – Painkiller". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  9. ^ "Judas Priest – Painkiller". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  10. ^ "Judas Priest – Painkiller". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  11. ^ "Judas Priest – Painkiller". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  12. ^ "Judas Priest – Painkiller". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  13. ^ "Judas Priest | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  14. ^ "Judas Priest Album & Song Chart History" Billboard 200 for Judas Priest. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  15. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Judas Priest – Screaming for Vengeance". Music Canada. 
  16. ^ "American album certifications – Judas Priest – Screaming for Vengeance". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH