Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best. As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones. I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate! This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?
NOTE: I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only. There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.
This week, we will dive into the deep catalog of Great Britain’s own, Judas Priest! Considered one of the pioneers of heavy metal alongside Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, Judas Priest boasts a backlog of hard driving metal few can counter with. Featuring the godlike vocals of Rob Halford and possessing the twin guitar attack of Glenn Tipton and KK Downing, the band was a force in the late seventies and through the mid-nineties. A blip in the radar with Halford’s decade-long departure, Priest has rebounded with their main man at the forefront and a trio of solid albums.
The second of the unfortunate albums written with replacement vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens. Nothing to say about this one. There is some decent material, as is the case on any Judas Priest record. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough of it here.
Best Song: Machine Man
Best Deep Cut: Machine Man
A two-hour double concept disc? Yikes! Some very good tracks, but not nearly enough worthy material to hold my attention for long. This was an ambitious idea that simply did not work.
Best Song: Prophecy
Best Deep Cut: Prophecy
The first “Ripper” Owens album. The low rankings have little to do with his singing ability as it does the songwriting. A very heavy record, but I just find it difficult to get into. Again, there are some songs worth a listen. Album closer, Cathedral Spires, is fantastic.
Best Song: Cathedral Spires
Best Deep Cut: Cathedral Spires
An attempt to get back to its winning sound, somewhat derailed by the synth-driven Turbo album, Ram It Down mainly misses the mark. Save for the lead-off title track and the brilliant, Blood Red Skies, the rest of the record consists of forgettable riffs and songs.
Best Song: Blood Red Skies
Best Deep Cut: Blood Red Skies
The first Judas Priest album features an almost hippy look and progressive rock sound, which may shock fans who have only known the band since they broke out the leather and spikes. This is not a horrible first release, rather, the sound of a band who had yet to find its winning formula. That said, when I go back and listen to Rocka Rolla, I can feel much bigger things are on the horizon. One for the Road, Run of the Mill, and the title cut are all worthy of a listen, the latter receiving some love from the band on its most recent concert tour.
Best Song: Rocka Rolla
Best Deep Cut: Rocka Rolla
It’s not that Point of Entry is a bad album. In fact, there are some strong songs on this offering, such as the classic, Heading Out to the Highway, as well as album standout Desert Plains and Solar Angels. Point of Entry features the band attempting to allure mainstream rock radio fans. Unfortunately, coming off British Steel, there isn’t enough standout material to compare.
Best Song: Desert Plains
Best Deep Cut: Desert Plains
A fine rebound after the meandering Nostradamus, Redeemer of Souls has a vast collection of songs that should keep the listener engaged and rockin’! Pay special attention to Dragonaut, Halls of Valhalla, March of the Damned, Down in Flames, and Cold Blooded. This album is a precursor to what the band is able to conjure up on its next release!
Best Song: Dragonaut
Best Deep Cut: Dragonaut
The Rob Halford comeback album, Angel of Retribution represents a triumphant return for the Priest. Songs that need to be listened to include, Judas Rising, Deal with the Devil, Revolution, and Hellrider.
Best Song: Deal with the Devil
Best Deep Cut: Deal with the Devil
An often-maligned album, Turbo indeed experiments with synthesizers and other sound effects, albeit much of it performed with a winning formula. This is especially true of the lead-off, Turbo Lover, as well as the vastly underrated, Out in the Cold. Meanwhile, Locked In, Private Property, Parental Guidance, and Rock You All Around the World make for an enjoyable journey through side one, even if some of the lyrical content is at times, juvenile.
Best Song: Turbo Lover
Best Deep Cut: Out in the Cold
Sandwiched between more well-known records that we will talk about in a minute, Sin After Sin is an underrated album that features Priest classics, Sinner and Dissident Aggressor. Other tracks worth a mention include, the Joan Baez penned, Diamonds and Rust, as well as Starbreaker and Here Come the Tears. Do not sleep on this one!
Best Song: Starbreaker
Best Deep Cut: Starbeaker
Dubbed, Hell Bent for Leather in America due to a school shooting (with a slightly different track listing), Killing Machine represented the band headed towards its arena rock sound that it would perfect on subsequent albums. Featuring the Priest concert staple, Hell Bent for Leather, as well as the successful cover of Fleetwood Mac’s, The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown), the record also boasts strong tracks, Delivering the Goods, Running Wild, and the outstanding ballad, Before the Dawn. This is another offering that feels like it gets overlooked.
Best Song: Hell Bent for Leather
Best Deep Cut: Delivering the Goods
Well, I didn’t expect anything this good! The latest Judas Priest record features many solid to strong tracks, including the title cut, Lightning Strike, Evil Never Dies, Never the Heroes, Necromancer, and Spectre. By far, my favorite of the Priest comeback (Halford’s return) albums that finds its way on in my house quite often.
Best Song: Evil Never Dies
Best Deep Cut: Evil Never Dies
The band’s second release found the band heading toward its trademark sound, although some remnants of the trippy Rocka Rolla era remains. The result is a very good sophomore effort. Priest classics, Victim of Changes and The Ripper lead the record off, while Tyrant and Genocide headline the second half.
Best Song: The Ripper
Best Deep Cut: Tyrant
An outstanding album that leads off with the dominant first side of, Exciter, White Heat Red Hot, Better by You Better Than Me, Stained Class, and Invader. Meanwhile, the second side that includes, Saints in Hell and the classic, Beyond the Realms of Death is nothing to sneeze at.
Best Song: Beyond the Realms of Death
Best Deep Cut: Exciter
This is a landmark Judas Priest record that checks all the boxes one may look for:
Classic Priest songs that stand the test of time? Breaking the Law, Metal Gods, Living After Midnight
Solid mid-tempo rockers? Grinder, You Don’t Have to Be Old to Be Wise, The Rage
All out blitzes in speed metal? Rapid Fire, Steeler, with latter containing the brilliant two-minute outro that serves as a blueprint for the American thrash metal scene that was soon to hit.
Only the unforgivable, United, prevents British Steel from moving up higher on the list.
Best Song: Breaking the Law
Best Deep Cut: Steeler
A comeback album of sorts, as it comes off the heels of a subpar offering. This record marks the debut of the thunderous, and criminally underrated drummer, Scott Travis, and he makes his presence known with the opening drum intro to the entire album. A rather heavy album, Painkiller is a riff maker’s paradise, while Tipton and Downing shred like there’s no tomorrow. A killer record. Highlights include the epic title track, Hell Patrol, All Guns Blazing, Leather Rebel, Night Crawler, Between the Hammer and the Anvil, as well as the brilliant and haunting A Touch of Evil.
Best Song: Painkiller
Best Deep Cut: Night Crawler
From the opening chords of The Hellion and into Electric Eye, there is little doubt that this would be an epic album. The record does not let up, either. Riding on the Wind, Bloodstone, and (Take These) Chains follow in succession, leaving the listener punch drunk. The breakneck title track, Devil’s Child, and the anthem, You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ highlight a brutal second side. Add it all up, and you have an outstanding album.
Best Song: You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
Best Deep Cut: Devil’s Child
I’ve mentioned in other posts how the oversaturation of classic rock radio has ruined many songs and albums for me, and that it seems the records that are void of a huge radio hit seem to stand out front (see AC/DC’s Powerage album). This is certainly the case with Defenders of the Faith. Although not a single song became a smash single, collectively, this is Judas Priests’ finest overall body of work.
The accelerated tempos of Freewheel Burning and Eat Me Alive, straightforward rockers, Jawbreaker, Rock Hard Ride Free, Some Heads Are Gonna Roll, and The Sentinel, the doomy, Love Bites, and the haunting ballad, Night Comes Down cement this record at the top of a very impressive musical mountain.
Best Song: Love Bites
Best Deep Cut: Love Bites