No one in the rock or metal world has anything but respect for Rob Halford. The Judas Priest frontman is not only an amazing vocalist with a long, storied career behind him, but he’s also a total mensch, supporting the metal community in any way he can and being adamantly outspoken about metal being the best damn music in the world. That said, listening to the isolated vocal tracks on Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” will make you realize that no matter how much you respected the dude before, it wasn’t enough.
What fans will hear foremost in these isolated tracks is how much of Rob’s harshness and power is actually in his singing. It’s easy to assume that Halford goes in, records some vocals, and then has everything massaged into place…but as MetalSucks points out, this is 1990, before Autotune. Rob had to nail his takes, and given just how huge and epic his screams are here, one has to give a stern salute to the dude for his ability to sing the way he does.
Listen to Halford’s “Painkiller” vocals below:
Last year, Halford took part in a Q&A on Judas Priest’s Instagram, and explained exactly how he developed his unique scream. “Singers should really have a go at everything,” the metal god said. “It’s all about discovering your abilities. It’s no different to a drummer or a guitar player — you’ve got the instrument and then it’s up to you to see what you can do with it. Just kind of get behind the mic and instinctively let your emotions take you where the song leads you. And always be open to suggestions and ideas from your bandmates: ‘Could you try singing it this way?’ ‘Could you try this note?’ ‘Could you try that key, scale?’, whatever.
“It’s very important for musicians to take the blinkers off when it comes to opportunities that are provided to you from other sources — producers, band members,” he continued. “So it was just experimentation with me. It just slowly developed. It wasn’t an overnight thing.”
Words by Chris Krovatin