A couple months ago, a fellow DUANer requested me doing a ranked list of Judas Priest albums. This one is quite the challenge because for one thing, even though I own all the albums, I rarely play Priest ever. And there’s 15 albums I have to rank. So there’s a lot of listening I had to catch up to.
(NOTE - As with a previous ranked list, I’ll only be doing albums with a certain vocalist. That’ll be Rob Halford on vocals. I’m not including the two albums that featured Tim “Ripper” Owens sang on)
And remember, these are my rankings. Don’t like them, make your own. I’m no Robert Christgau (the hating critic of Black Sabbath).
Jesus Christ, I remember when I was just getting into Priest around this time. I was 13 or 14 years old and was getting into the classic stuff in the 80's all the way through Painkiller. Then I listened to this and I hated it. Why do a fucking concept album this late in a band’s career? Not to mention this was supposedly to be the last studio album from Priest, which thank the Lord it wasn’t because this album sucks.
The synths, oh God the synths.
There’s something about this album that just doesn’t click with me. And it’s more than the cover of ‘Johnny B. Goode.’ It’s almost like a generic repeat of Point Of Entry. Nothing good but ‘Blood Red Skies.’
The first Judas Priest album. You listen to it and feel like the band is so close on each song from breaking through towards the heavy riffing but are stuck more with a blues rock effort. ‘Run Of The Mill’ is the lone major highlight.
Yeah, follow up British Steel with this generic heavy metal album. Shockingly I played this three times in it’s entirety while doing these rankings. It’s
The band is getting closer to the image you see them today as with ‘Dissident Aggressor’ being the heaviest track.
I’m not gonna lie when I say that this feels like a repeat of it’s predecessor minus a hit single.
Thank God the band didn’t retire with Nostradamus. With Richie Faulkner replacing the retiring K.K. Downing, the band is re-energized and there’s a great album that may be a bit too long, and maybe one or two more unneeded slow ballads.
When you listen to the second album, you hear the traces of Purple, Zeppelin and Sabbath in it. The trade-off riffs are all over the place. Extended solos galore. Dark lyrical themes are beginning to appear.
Be honest, some of you thought I was gonna have this at number one, right?
Rob Halford returns to the mic after two Priest albums with Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens. And the first track, ‘Judas Rising’ is a pounding metal song seeming to be the rebirth of Halford and Judas Priest. The double bass drumming of Scott Travis is all over the place and will remind you of his drumming debut on Painkiller. The last track, ‘Lochness’ is thirteen minute riff heavy epic which is a top ten list of favorite Judas Priest songs for me.
The beginning track ‘Delivering The Goods’ is a good example of what the rest of the album will sound like. The riffs are very heavy but just enough to leave Halford some breathing room with high pitched screams such as ‘Rock Forever’ and ‘Evening Star.’ ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ has been an encore on the band’s set list forever now.
Along with the self titled Iron Maiden album, you can consider this the groundbreaking point of the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal). ‘Breaking The Law’ and ‘Living After Midnight’ were the breakthroughs that gained the band commercial attention while still sticking to it’s heavy riffing. While still adding some dark themes into it while able to become mainstream is a success for heavy metal’s rebirth.
Ditching the synths and almost seemingly glam style music, this is Priest going back to it’s heavy metal and speed metal roots. The title track itself is a top 5 Priest song in my book and has one of the most iconic drum beginnings ever. ‘Hell Patrol,’ ‘Night Crawler,’ and ‘Between The Hammer & The Anvil’ are excellent tracks as well.
The exciting double bass pedaling of ‘Exciter’ and it’s twin guitar solo is an excellent way to start of this album. ‘Invader,’ the title track, ‘Heroes End’ and the epic ‘Beyond The Realms Of Death.’ Sticking with dark themes but making the music a little for commercial for the fans with it’s prog rock elements. It’s my opinion that this is the best Judas Priest album.