As Judas Priest will be hitting the road this year for their reported final tour, it's appropriate to wander back to their 1977 masterwork, Sin After Sin.
Sin After Sin was, at one time, an acquired taste in Priest's catalog. While it remains one of their all-time heaviest and most polished recordings, most fans picked up with the band either via British Steel and Hell Bent For Leather or Screaming for Vengeance and Defenders of the Faith. Those albums are slicker, louder and filled with iconic heavy metal classics. Sin After Sin is iconic itself, but you really had to dig backwards when learning the history of metal in order to appreciate their grinding "Dissident Aggressor" (made popular by benefit of Slayer's cover) and the banging "Sinner," "Race With the Devil" and "Starbreaker."
A bit more refined than the over-the-top bludgeoning and tunefulness of their later work, Sin After Sin is a portal into a heavy metal wonderland, in sound by "Last Rose of Summer" and visually by the album's escapist artwork. I have a great fondness for a lot of the older, detailed paintings gracing Judas Priest's albums, in particular for Sad Wings of Destiny, Rocka Rolla and the Hero Hero compilation. I'm most fond, however, of the minimalist copier paper trail to infinitum found on Point of Entry. As a writer, that triggers my neurons and sends them scampering in search of that elusive vanishing point.
Yet the Sin After Sin album cover may provoke the most imagination of any of Priest's albums. I think of Heavy Metal the magazine, I think of Arthur's fadeout in Excalibur and I think of lust and desire, depicted in the abstract forms found at the sepulchure's portal on this cover. One must deal with temptation from both sides when approaching the tomb, which really strikes my fancy.
Seduction and damnation await all who enter, and yet the Sin After Sin cover makes you want to see more, particularly to see if there's a payout to the suggested sex by the translucent girl parting her legs to the side. What's she hiding between her thighs? Kind of reminds you of an installment of Den from the pages of Heavy Metal, yes? With the devil obscura towards panel left, you get the feeling there's pain coming with the pleasure, woe be to your genitalia...