Alright, my Judas Priest top 5 album list. I’ve been a Judas Priest fan since high school. Weirdly in junior high, I was kind of scared of them. I loved Ozzy Osbourne, Def Leppard, and Journey, but Judas Priest? They were scary.
I have no idea why I felt that way. I just did.
So I did a favorite list for Tchaikovsky. Makes sense to also do one for Priest.
Without further ado, here’s my Judas Priest top 5 album list:
#5 – Angel of Retribution (2005)
As you probably already know, Rob Halford left Priest in the early 90s. Yet another reason I hate Tipper Gore. The trial about those two suicides in Nevada wore on Halford. So, don’t blame bad parenting. Blame music. Tipper Gore set the stage for that bullshit.
Anyways, Priest put out two mediocre albums. No offense to Ripper Owens. I love the guy, but Halford’s such an integral part of the songwriting process that they needed him in there.
Enter Angel of Retribution. Judas Priest now has a chip on their shoulder, which is a good thing. I love how they went backwards in order to go forwards. This album was an obvious homage to past Priest.
It was highly conservative, but there’s a time and place to be conservative as an artist and there’s a time and place to be risk taking. In this case, first album back, conservative was the right move.
This album shined all the way through but the best song was their longest ever – Loch Ness. Even loved the lyrics. Metalheads understand the monster within and therefore can relate with the monster.
#4 – Painkiller (1990)
This may seem hard to believe, but if you were a Metalhead back then, you’d know this was true. Priest declined considerably in the late 80s. They simply fell behind the times. Thrash was king and the Golden Age Metal sound simply sounded dated.
Priest turned off a lot of their hard-core fans with the synthesized guitars of Turbo and Ram it Down just sounded bland.
Enter Painkiller. Priest makes a move to keep up with the times and did a spectacular job. I remember buying Megadeth’s, Testament’s, and Priest’s albums on the same day. I didn’t expect much from the Priest album and looked forward more to the Megadeth and the Testament albums. Ironically, Priest had the best of the three bands.
So Priest went from being a sweet relic from the past to once again being in the forefront. Every song on that album hit you hard, especially the title track. Of course it helped to dump an outdated drummer and add Scott Travis, a man who hit the drums hard and seemed to have endless endurance with that double bass.
#3 – Sin After Sin (1977)
It’s weird. Of all the memories we have with music, Sin After Sin for me, I remember picking up my mother from the hospital and side two would always start when I picked her up. She never drove and worked in a hospital. So when I moved back home after college for a year, I was her driver.
Anyways, enough of the personal stuff. This was a landmark album. Landmark because it opened with arguably the first Speed Metal song in Sinner, and had unarguably the first Thrash Metal song with Dissident Aggressor.
Brilliant album, and ahead of their time. Priest were innovators. And you see why I call them the most influential Metal band of all-time? This band kicked off the short-lived Speed Metal, the long-lived (and still going) Thrash Metal, and wrote the book on Heavy Metal fashion. I stole my uniform from Priest and I’ll readily admit that.
Also contains a Joan Baez cover Diamonds and Rust, which she herself enjoys. Let Us Prey/Call for the Priest and Raw Deal are Progressive Metal. And Here Come the Tears is a great song to slit your wrists too. Let’s not forget how introspective 70s Priest was.
#2 – Defenders of the Faith (1984)
When you compose the perfect album, the best thing to do is do it again. Defenders of the Faith is simply Screaming for Vengeance II. I look at this album with tons of nostalgia because I was starting to realize I was never going to make the NFL and escaped into Metal music, Dungeons and Dragons and witchcraft. A wonderful combination. Metal music had an air of escapism, which isn’t necessarily the bad thing that stupid Congressional wives were making it out to be. Did not Socrates utter “the unexamined life is not worth living”?
Musically, Priest did nothing they didn’t do on their previous album. But their previous album was such a masterpiece, why not do it again? They knew it. They found their sound and they’re running with it.
Priest ruled the Metal world in 1984 and everyone knew it. Everyone wanted to be either Priest or Maiden that year.
Best songs – Rock Hard, Ride Free, Some Heads are Gonna Roll, Eat Me Alive, Freewheel Burning, hell, why am I even doing this? The whole album’s perfect the whole way through.
#1 – Screaming for Vengeance (1982)
In my not so humble opinion, Pink Floyd delivered the best album of the 70s with Dark Side of the Moon. Radiohead delivered the best album of the 90s with OK Computer. Nightwish gave us the best album of the 00s with Once. Best album of the 80s? This one. Of course.
Metal ruled the 80s, despite what the wimps say. And Priest ruled Metal. And Screaming for Vengeance was their magnum opus. We all knew it. They knew it too.
I’m not going to say my favorite song on the album because every single song is perfection. This is how you compose Metal. This. When MTV used to play videos, when we all saw You Got Another Thing Coming, we knew, that’s how Metal looks. That’s how Metal sounds. That’s Metal.
I’ll save those for another day. Priest rules!