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Painkiller #659 (general) #186 (Heavy Metal)

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 and with his heavy use of double pedals and blast beats, it gave Judas Priest a new sound and heavier edge.

The album was recorded at Miraval Studios, Brignoles, France in early 1990 and mixed at Wisseloord StudiosHilversum, the Netherlands later that year. It was produced by the band and Chris Tsangarides, marking the first time since 1978's Killing Machine that Judas Priest had not worked with Tom Allom and the first time since 1976's Sad Wings of Destiny that Judas Priest and Tsangarides worked together.

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 was 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 on LPcassette and CD.

The album was certified Gold by RIAA in January 1991. A remastered CD was released in May 2001, including a live recording of "Leather Rebel" and a previously unreleased song, "Living Bad Dreams". The album received a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance at the 33rd Annual Grammy Awards, losing to Metallica's cover of the Queen song "Stone Cold Crazy".

Critical reaction to Painkiller has been overwhelmingly positive, especially from the metal community. On, the album holds an average score of 92% based on 26 reviews.[6]

Most of the album's tracks were performed live on the Painkiller World Tour, with the title track becoming one of the band's concert staples. "Hell Patrol", "All Guns Blazing", "A Touch of Evil", "Night Crawler" and "Between the Hammer and the Anvil" have all returned to the setlist on later tours, while "Metal Meltdown" and "Leather Rebel" were retired after only a few performances in 1990. "One Shot at Glory" and the intro "Battle Hymn" are the only tracks not yet performed live from the album.

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, along with 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 gone; 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.


Chart (1990) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[7] 60
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[8] 22
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[9] 7
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[10] 27
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[11] 19
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[12] 19
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[13] 14
UK Albums (OCC)[14] 26
US Billboard 200[15] 26


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[16] Gold 50,000^
United States (RIAA)[17] Gold 500,000^
Worldwide sales:   2,000,000

^shipments figures based on certification alone

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