"The fourth offering from the Priest was its most remarkable thus far. While the previous albums were softer and emotional, this album redefines the meaning of Judas Priest by adding the famous raw guitar sound (which is to become more and more evident until Defenders). However, despite the fact the music actually got heavier and harder, the album doesn't sacrifice the emotional setting mood we were experiencing with previous masterpieces such as Sad Wings. As for the excellent songs themselves, again, there are no fillers, each song is a beauty by itself. We kick off with Priest's best ever album opener - Exciter, a speedy rocker featuring all you could ask for in 5 minutes: the excellent and catchy chorus and verses, killer drumming, light speed riffs, and great dual guitar solos. The next two songs define the essence of this recording featuring oldschool classics in the names of White Heat, Red Hot and Better By You, Better Than Me (you'll love them). The title track is next, and just like the remainder of the album it keeps you breathless all the way. Invander is a nice straightforward pounder featuring great mid-song instrumentals. Saints In Hell is one that makes this album a masterpiece, with the excellent guitar solos and powerful chorus. Savage is next and leaves you mesmerized to see what the Priest can compress into a three and the half minute space - you have to listen to it to believe it (has stellar solos!). Next one is Beyond The Realms Of Death - one of the Priest's greatest ballads ever, with the sad but powerful acoustic guitar riff and extremly emotional Glenn Tipton solos, and not to mension the endless backward messages, this is something no one can skip. The closing Heroes End doesn't disappoint as well, and blends perfectly with the rest of the album closing it just about flawlessly. The lyrics of the entire album are excellent, the sound quality is top notch for the time, and musically speaking it just couldn't be any better. Add to it the classical and epic feel of the album and Rob's heavenly vocal performance, alongside all of the hidden backward messages and mystical features throughout and you're left with yet another must-buy Judas Priest album.After 23 years I can tell you without hesitation that compared to today's offerings this album only glows shinier on you, shinier than ever before. Whether you like Heavy Metal or just classical hard rock at its best, there is no going wrong with this purchase, you won't regret it!"
CLASSY, WITH NO STAINS!
Darth Pariah | North America | 07/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is what Judas Priest had been building up to over their previous three albums, which had plenty of high points but some low points too. However, there are no low points here. Along with "British Steel", I consider this Priest's best album.
One very positive addition was the addition of drummer Les Binks (where is he now?). His double-kick drumming that starts off "Exciter" is a direct antecedent of the "speed metal" movement of the 1980s.
Though the previous albums were good in their own right, they were still derivative of contemporaries like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple in places (and I'm not saying that's a bad thing!). Here, except for a slight Sabbath flavour on "Saints In Hell", Priest at last find their own identity and their own sound, and from here on out, other bands would be influenced by them.
No ballads here either! The controversial "Beyond The Realms Of Death" alternates between gentle acoustic and crushing electric guitar but is still very heavy. Rob (or was it still "Bob" or "Robert" at this stage in his career?) Halford's vocal tour-de-force is on this song.
This album, along with much of Thin Lizzy's work, set the standards for twin lead guitars. Glenn Tipton and KK Downing play off each other effortlessly. However, one minor gripe is that Ian Hill's bass could be louder; he's a good, no-frills bassist but doesn't get the recognition he deserves.
HIGH POINTS: "Exciter", "Saints In Hell", "Beyond The Realms Of Death", "Heroes End".
LOW POINTS: NONE!
Essential for any heavy metal collection."
Definitely a forgotten and under-appreciated classic
Brad | 01/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've owned a vinyl copy of this since I was in junior high school, in the early 80's, and it was always one of my quite favorites, something I never really admitted liking so much to anyone really. Not many people I know appreciate early Judas Priest, just the way it is.
Stained Class is a step into a bit of a 70's progressive rock direction, with complex songs that change tempo and vary a lot on odd beats, and aren't very radio friendly. The Downing/Tipton guitar work is phenomenal, and this record for the first time really shows off their talents.
Every song on here is good, it's a complete album. The songs that stuck in my head the most as a teenager were "Beyond The Realms Of The Dead," "Heroes End," "Savage" and "Better By You, Better Than Me."
It's great to get into this music again, and is some of the more timeless metal out there.
Best of the best
Gabriel_Knight | 09/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the best rock-metal albums ever.It's as simple as that.
Halford's vocals are absolutely stunning ,i consider this album as a vocal lesson for all singers!His voice ranges from high operatic to slow blues and angry metal screams.The sound of this album is way ahead of it's time paving the way for later metal bands."
Timothy Loftus | New Jersey, United States | 09/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Stained Class and Hell Bent are near perfect examples of early metal, before it became "popular" to wave your fist and bang your head. Its hard to say one is better than the other but I personally prefer Stained Class and believe it contains the best JP song ever; White Heat, Red Hot. The 2 powerfull guitars of Downing and Tipton sound more like 20 and never get too loud. Listen to the entire album at high volumes because lower volumes don't do it justice. Make sure you are alone (preferably your car) so you can freely jam out without making a complete fool of yourself."