Last Saturday I had the privilege go making a guest appearance alongside the great Lebrain as a co-host of one of his weekly live streams. You can find that here if you’re interested in checking that out-
The main feature of this stream was a discussion of our top 10 Judas Priest albums. Holen’s list also featured, which I read out, along with a summary of his reasons. But I didn’t want his full reasoning to go to waste, so today’s post will have the exact document he sent me.
There is one extra tidbit to these lists though. They are Nigel Tufnel top 10 lists, which means that they actually go up to 11. So here is Holen’s list, complete with all the Holenisms I refrained from uttering on stream.
11- British Steel – Well, fuck. What’s this “classic” doing so far down on the list? Because it’s overrated. They wanted to compact their metal, and a few great songs aside, only ended up diluting it. Dumbing it down. “United” fucking sucks. The good stuff here does make up for the plethora of filler at least to get it to number 11. The absence of “Cyberface” keeps it above Demolition, and Jugulator didn’t make much of an impact on me at all. More like British Shit, or Shitisth Steel, or Fucking… Stupid!!!
10- Point of Entry – The companion record to British Steel. I ultimately think it’s better because it’s more committed to itself. It’s experimental, Dave Holland gets to let loose as much as he can without Jonathan Valen to double him, and it doesn’t feel as forced. Point of Entry breathes where British Steel strains to stick to a more commercial formula. There’s an airy spaciousness to the production and the songs, it really conjures up an atmosphere. That’s enough for me to place it ahead of 1980’s British Cuntflap.
9- Turbo – I liked this one a lot when I was younger, and probably listened to it more in my teens than any other Priest record except maybe Sad Wings. I’m not a metal purist, so as long as the songs are still good, I didn’t mind that they incorporated guitar synth or more commercial aspects back into the mix. Some of the songs are still really good, like the title track, “Locked In”, and “Out in the Cold”. Others have dated poorly, like the goofy “Blow Your Ass All Around My Mouth”, or the dumb as its title but still catchy “Wild Nights, Hot Crazy Days”. Nothing as dumb as “Cyberface” though. Overall for Turbo, it’s solid, the production is unique, I like it.
8- Firepower – I didn’t expect this to be good. Bands this far into their career are supposed to be creatively bankrupt, or competently boring as shit (see Iron Maiden), but Priest pulled off a banger. The only thing keeping it this low might be time. It’s their newest release, but these songs sound built to last. Some kickass production from Andy Sneap supports tunes that stack up to the classic years. Immediate standouts included “Lightning Strikes”, the title track, and the “Hot for Love” but better “Flamethrower”. The biggest grower was “No Surrender” which is now my favorite track on the album. It’s a bombshell in the guise of a three minute power metal tune. It’s brevity is a virtue, a concept lost on Steve Harris.
7- Painkiller – A solid thrash comeback. This was a statement of purpose after Ram It Up Your Ass was such a pile of steaming hot cornbacked sewer trout. Lots of goodies here, the addition of Scott Travis and the ditching of Tom Allom really help toughen up their sound. Unfortunately adding Scott Travis made “Cyberface” possible since he co-wrote the tune, so it’s a zero sum gain.
6- Sin After Sin – “Sinner” is a classic for the ages, but some of the middle of the record does drag a bit. A few trims to the fat and we’d have their best album right here, but that must wait until next time. A few trims to “Cyberface” and it’d still be a travesty.
5- Defenders of the Faith – If the whole album was as strong as the first side this would be the greatest metal album of all time. Fuck that, greatest fucking album ever made. But there’s side B, where they sort of shit the bed at the end. That’s the general consensus, but I’ve never had a huge problem with “Smelly Poopy/Defenders of the Asshole”, it’s just weaker after such mindbending assfucking masterpieces like “The Sentinel” . I’d also consider “Eat My Twat” to not be quite up to snuff, but “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” stacks up to anything on side A, and “Night Comes Down” is a nice slower number. The mechanical production pointed the way to Turbo without sacrificing the metal.
4- Screaming for Vengeance – Yeah, it’s that good. Solid, not a bad track. The whole thing has a weight that the preceding two Allom releases didn’t, some bass, some more compression, it just cooks with power. It’s a mostly uncontested pillar of the genre, and the whole thing is a shining example of hooks and power. The title track is a furious battle cry, and “Bloodstone” is just a nasty groove. Lovely.
3- Hell Bent for Leather – If this album could become sentient and sing for itself, it would sing this to British Steel.-
“Anything you can do I can do better! I can do anything better than you!”
Got some production warmth that was missing later on, a nice ‘70s guitar tone, and more commercial but not dumb metal tunes. The tracklist is stellar, with the only hiccup coming in “Take on the World” a shitty anthem that set the mold for “United” but without sucking as much. The rest of the album is first class metal with catchy melodies. The whole thing jams so much more with a ‘70s emphasis on rhythmic thrust from Mr. Les Binks. Great fucking record!
2- Sad Wings of Destiny – My first Judas Priest album. Similar to Sin After Sin, but without some of the prog fat. You can really hear the influence they would have on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal on this one, in songs like “Tyrant” and “Genocide”. This also includes the greatest Priest epic of all, “Victim of Changes”, and some of Halford’s most ballbusting shrieks. It’s solid, and surprisingly focused after the narcoleptic aimlessness of Rocka Rolla.
1- Stained Class – The New Wave of British Heavy Metal template. Not a single bad song, a masterpiece start to finish. Pioneering in so many ways. We get speed metal in “Exciter”, groovy “Red Hot White Heat”, a dark ballad in “Beyond the Realms of Death”, and the melodic and grandiose title track. Let it be known that I’ve pulled off the screams at the beginning of “Savage” before. If Rob quits again, I think they should take me instead of Ripper. Because if I had been in Priest instead of Ripper back then, I’d have burned the “Cyberface” tapes in disgrace. Also “Tai Shan” by Rush rocks.
I get the feeling he doesn’t like “Cyberface”. And here’s my list, though devoid of the reasoning I gave on stream (spoilers for upcoming reviews are present).
1-Defenders of the Faith
4-Sin After Sin
6-Hell Bent for Leather
7- Angel of Retribution
10- Sad Wings of Destiny
11- Rocka Rolla
And that’s all for today. The Priest review series will return when Holen is ready, so stay tuned for that.