Painkiller (Judas Priest song)

"Painkiller" is the opening song on English heavy metal band Judas Priest's 1990 album, Painkiller, and was released as its first single later that year. The lyrics tell the story of the Painkiller, the character featured on the cover of the album, who is a cyborg superhero who saves mankind from destruction.

Single by Judas Priest
from the album Painkiller
ReleasedSeptember 1990 (1990-09)
Recorded3 September 1990 [1]
Producer(s)Chris Tsangarides
Judas Priest singles chronology
"Johnny B. Goode"
"A Touch of Evil"


The song is written in E minor, but the key signature changes during the guitar solos. The first guitar solo in the song, which alternates between the keys of F# minor and C# minor, is played by Glenn Tipton. The second, also in F# minor, is played by K. K. Downing. The song is noted for Rob Halford's high pitched screeching throughout the song as well as Scott Travis' complex drumming. Tipton has also stated that the Painkiller solo is his favourite to play. It is also his first recorded solo to heavily feature the technique of sweep picking.


The song was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance during the 33rd Grammy Awards (1991), the second year the award was presented.[citation needed]

Death metal band Death covered the song on their album The Sound of Perseverance.

Power metal band Angra covered the song on their album Freedom Call.

"Painkiller" is a playable song in the 2008 music game Rock Band 2.

Japanese band Babymetal performed an abridged version of the song at the 2016 Alternative Press Music Awards alongside Rob Halford, which led into another Judas Priest song, "Breaking the Law." Babymetal performed these songs later in the year during their tour supporting Red Hot Chili Peppers, with singer Su-metal performing all vocals and RHCP's Chad Smith playing drums.[2][3]


Judas Priest


  1. ^ "Judas Priest singles".
  2. ^ "Watch Rob Halford Cover Judas Priest Classics With Babymetal". Archived from the original on 19 August 2017. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Babymetal Perform With Judas Priest's Rob Halford at Alternative Press Music Awards". Archived from the original on 20 July 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2016.

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