Getting Into: Judas Priest
|Written by:||Baz Anderson|
With these "Getting Into" articles I will present a fair, full description of a band's discography of studio albums with a clear rating out of five, as a way of aiding people that want to get into such bands but do not know where to start, as usually reviews have different authors and are written at different points in time - so this is a clear guide of how to get into the band in question.
Everyone that likes heavy metal, or even knows about its history will know that Judas Priest are one of the most important bands in the development of the genre. Judas Priest took what other bands were doing before them and injected speed and razor like guitars into the music, something that has neer been done before and in turn created heavy metal as we know it today. The banshee screams of Rob Halford and twin guitaring from K. K. Downing and Glenn Tipton make this band totally distinguishable even today among the sea of bands imitating the Judas Priest sound. The band have had a few ups and downs in their time, but one thing is certain and that is that Judas Priest are here to stay and will always be considered one of the very best in the genre they helped form.
|Rocka Rolla (1974)|
Every band starts somewhere and back here in 1974 we have the first album of a band that would really leave their mark on the world. This album however did not leave any mark on the world of rock as it was just very average in many ways for its time, bands needed to release something reasonably popular to get noticed and unfortunately Judas Priest did not leave an amazing first impression. The album is only interesting to listen to these days to listen to the progress the band made in them days from turning the band that created this into something much more spectacular. By today's standards the album is average if not a little boring.
|Sad Wings Of Destiny (1976)|
This is the album that Judas Priest needed to burst onto the scene with, this album was quite unlike anything anyone had heard before, and because of that - this album is considered by many to be the first truly heavy metal album as we use the term "heavy metal" these days. This album introduced speed, twin guitars and an undeniably powerful and talented, shrieking voice to the genre, as well as a much more raw, metal sound. Many songs on this album are still regarded as classics such as "Victim Of Changes" and "The Ripper", and even some of the less well recognised song titles are great great songs as well, "Tyrant", "Genocide" and "Island Of Domination" especially. Even though this album is such a heavy metal classic, the album is still a little bluesier than future releases and the band still lack a bit of the bombast and attitude that they would pick up in later years.
|Sin After Sin (1977)|
Here the band moved their sound along more into their own niche of cutting edge heavy metal. This album has a much fuller sound and the band sound more confident just the one year after "Sad Wings..." as well. The album maybe does not have such well known names on it but the quality is there like never before. "Sinner", "Let Us Prey/Call For The Priest" and "Dissident Aggressor" especially are all pure slabs of heavy metal, the latter, which has since been covered by Slayer, must have been the heaviest thing the world had heard at that point in time. The album also features a rocked up cover of Joan Baez song "Diamonds & Rust" which the band make sure to play live even still these days, but have now gone full circle and provide an emotional moment for the band and audience of the same age by playing it acoustic as the original was. This is overall a great album but again is a little incomplete in the fact that some of the songs go right over your head and only the classics stick out.
|Stained Class (1978)|
Another year later and another album later. This album is pretty much in the same vein as the last, just with less classics. "Exciter" will always be one of those names that pop out at you when you look at this album; again this has been covered by many bands of many different genres of metal now. The other main feature of this album is the epic "Beyond The Realms Of Death" that shows the different sides and talents to the band. Other than these, the album doesn't really have many more songs that leap out at you, apart from possibly the groovier "Better By You, Better Than Me" that created the infamous court case with subliminal messages. So although this is a good album, it is not one of the first ones you should reach for.
|Killing Machine (1979)|
"Killing Machine" (or "Hell Bent For Leather" in the USA) is the best album the band had made at this point, and it was the best for a number of reasons. This album really saw Judas Priest finally settle into their role of supreme heavy metal band. The band have everything here, the album is much more confident than anything they had done before and also the most diverse album the band had done before as well. Again many bands have covered many songs here, and you can't blame them, the album is full of classics. Who can't resist singing along "hell bent, hell bent for leather" to the song or "Delivering The Goods" in much the same fashion that shows Rob Halford clearly comfortable with his position as frontman and almost spits the words out with so much pomp. "Take On The World" is a good example of the diversification Judas Priest had grown here, and the best bit about the album is that all the songs still sound great today so many years in its future.
|British Steel (1980)|
It's 1980 and all of a sudden everyone knows who Judas Priest is. "British Steel" brings big commercial success for the band but maybe to some cost. This album is often referred to as such a classic, and it is - but so are almost all Judas Priest albums, but this album was much more commercial than anything the band had done before. We have that hilarious video for "Breaking The Law" but unfortunately the song itself is nothing compared to the material from albums before. The whole album is less metal and has "commercial interest" written all over it. This does not however make it a bad album. Could you imagine a Judas Priest show without "Living After Midnight" or "Metal Gods", also "United" is a fantastic song that never gets much mention. This is a much more radio friendly album but this does not necessarily mean it is a bad album.
|Point Of Entry (1981)|
Like after all commercial successes there comes great pressure to perform again with the next album, and like so many others the band just fell over with this album. "Heading Out To The Highway" and "Hot Rockin'" are good songs, and "Desert Plains" is also a Judas Priest classic, showing that even on one of their weakest albums they can still write one or two memorable songs. On the whole though, this album is still not as metal or incredibly interesting as the 70's albums and is so definitely not an essential album.
|Screaming For Vengeance (1982)|
One year later and it is clear that they wanted to quickly move swiftly on from the last album and do something to convince us that the Priest was still alive and kicking in a very metal way. They definitely did that! After listening to this album "Point Of Entry" is just a distant memory, if even a memory at all. This here is vintage Judas Priest and of course an essential for anyone's collection. Nearly every song on the album is a classic but none so more than the immortal "Electric Eye". The album name, the title track, "Screaming For Vengeance" is the most aggressive thing the band had done and is quite literally exactly what Judas Priest are doing here to recover themselves and let everyone know who is boss. The flurry of drums opening "Riding On The Wind" and live favourite "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" are among songs of a truly classic, very metal album. At a crossroads where the band could have chosen to take the more commercial route of the two previous albums, or the true metal route of the spirit of Judas Priest - it is clear which direction the band took.
|Defenders Of The Faith (1984)|
After the success of the previous album and the band in full metal swing there was not a chance of them dropping down to anything below par at this point in the bands lifetime when they are clearly on top of their game and the heavy metal world. The band admittedly thought that this was just going to be an average, good solid album but instead was received by fans in an incredibly positive way and has turned out to be another classic Judas Priest album. "Freewheel Burning" and "The Sentinel" are just the icing on the cake, unlike most other Judas Priest albums it is possible to look down the track list and remember that every song on the album left an exceptional impression with you.
Two more years later and the Priest are experimenting again. It was time for something a little different and so the guys decided to do something brave that lost them a handful of the true metal fans. Originally set to be "Twin Turbos" but later just "Turbo", the more commercial material was used for this single disc. Guitar synthesizers are the key feature of this album that mix elements of metal with pop music, making this an album that you will either love or hate. If you strictly like metal, then maybe this album will not be for you, but if you enjoy something a little different then maybe you will find this to be a little gem. You have got to love songs like "Turbo Lover", "Parental Guidance" and "Rock You All Around The World", even the slower "Out In The Cold" as well. This album really got a thrashing when it was released and the reputation of it being a bad album has stuck, but it just is not true, just prepare to hear something a bit different.
|Ram It Down (1988)|
At this point the fans really had it in for Judas Priest after the last album and so the return with a new album two years later was with this album, an album that is much more back to basics as well as being the most polished album the band had done up to this point. The album clearly kicks off with some serious intention with a scream from Rob leading us into the amazing, aggressive title track. The album moved away from the guitar synthesizer sound of the last album and towards something more cutting edge than the band had ever done before with razor like guitars, Rob screaming like never before and such a powerful drum sound. Double bass drumming was used much more on this album which made another positive change, albeit on just a few tracks. "Love Zone", "Hard As Iron" especially and "Love You To Death" are all such powerful metal headbangers of songs where "Blood Red Skies" shows some last traces of the "Turbo" sound that adds a really nice touch to the album with something a bit different. This album often suffers a bad reputation probably because of the time of its release, but pay no attention to that, this is an awesome album.
If there is one album in existence that you could use to perfectly show modern heavy metal at its best, it would be this one right here. With new drummer Scott Travis the band were able to give Judas Priest the push they were making with the last album, just this time they could make it with so much more devastation and success. A huge sounding drum introduction introduces the listener to both the new drummer and the new sound of Judas Priest. The band turned into some kind of possessed monster here. Rob had never screamed so loudly before, the guitars sharper than ever before and of course they had never had such a machine of a drummer behind the kit. The title track alone is the epitome of modern heavy metal, "Leather Rebel" and "Metal Meltdown" as well are favourites among an album of favourites, each track a solid slab of heavy metal that have influenced the sound of so many bands that were to follow. Not just an essential album of the Judas Priest discography but an essential album of all metal.
Goodbye to Rob Halford and hello to former Judas Priest tribute band singer Tim Owens. Seven years after the release of "Painkiller" and the band show huge bravery by carrying on without Rob, let alone following up "Painkiller" without him. The band do a very good job of it though, Tim opens the album with a scream to give you chills and sounds similar to Rob in quite a few ways, and quickly adapts himself to the real thing. They produce a great album in the same vein as "Painkiller" guitar and drum wise, but maybe seem to be trying to imitate the "Painkiller" sound a little much, as if they were a band that were heavily influenced by Judas Priest. If this album did not have the Judas Priest name on it then it would be much more popular, but as it is Judas Priest without Rob, people will always have things to complain about.
After the promising new start for Judas Priest with Tim Owens, this album was just a disaster. Credit is due for them making a strong effort to move away from the "Painkiller" sound and towards something a little different, but it just does not work. The album makes a great start, "Machine Man" is a very catchy song and also "Bloodsuckers" and "Metal Messiah" are good songs, "Hell Is Home" and a few others also show glimpses of something great but other than these, the album is seemingly uninspired and unfortunately rather boring to listen to. Make this one of the last ones you hear.
|Angel Of Retribution (2005)|
The band meet up with Rob Halford and in true English fashion decide over a cup of tea to give it another go all together. The result is the "Angel Of Retribution" fifteen years after the last album all together. The band don't try to copy any album they have previously done, this is original and highly enjoyable material. "Judas Rising" is quite a clear statement from the band and is introduced by a trademark Rob Halford wail that must have pleased so many people to hear once more being backed by the one and only Judas Priest. The album has fast songs "Demonizer" and "Hellrider" as well as slower, more ballad like songs - "Angel" being the best of these, but to make this the most varied album the band have ever made, the last track lasts thirteen and a half minutes which is totally unique to Judas Priest. "Lochness" comes from a time Rob spent in Scotland many years ago and always felt like he wanted to write a song about the experience, and now finally has in this epic album closer. This is a great album and should be thoroughly enjoyed by both people that knew the band back when Rob was in the band the first run, and new fans of the band.
As well as studio albums the band have released a handful of live albums from different eras, the first being the infamous "Unleashed In The East" which is a fantastic way to introduce new listeners to the 70's albums. "Priest... Live!" was released in a period where Judas Priest were playing around with their style and is not as good of a way to introduce yourself to the band as the studio albums themselves, the album is still a good piece for big fans of the band though. "Meltdown" and "Live In London" both have Tim Owens singing and include songs from the Ripper-era albums also, so also not such a good way to introduce yourself to the band, but again they are good for big fans of the band and people who liked the Ripper albums. Overall, stick to this guide and you will be singing along with Rob in no time whether it be the classic 70's and early 80's albums, or the new material since Rob has been back in the band, the name Judas Priest always produces quality in one way or another.
Written by Barry Anderson
||Written on 18.07.2007 by Member of Staff since 2006.|
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