"Invincible Shield" (Epic Records; 2024)

Reviewed by Snidermann

The Priest boys are back in style with a new recording called "Invincible Shield."

The band sounds better than ever and Rob Halford's voice has never sounded stronger. This release sounds like it could have been released in the 70s. It's full of power, attitude, excellent songwriting and, of course, musicianship extraordinaire.

If you live under a rock, you don't know that K. K. Dowling, long time guitarist for Priest is out and Richie Faulkner is in and, according to metal god Rob Halford, "Richie saved Priest."

I would say the production is slightly overdone in some places. I like Rob Halford's voice; however, him singing two and three part harmony with himself got kinda annoying. However, that did not by any means diminish the overall coolness of this recording. The band sounds great, Rob sounds great, the songwriting was outstanding. It is always a good day when Judas Priest puts out new music. May it come again soon!

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Reflections - 50 Heavy Metal Years of Music" (Legacy; 2021)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Judas Priest's "Reflections Ė 50 Heavy Metal Years of Music" is just what it says it is. Sixteen songs (1 hour and 20 minutes of music), some live cuts, some studio. It's pure Judas Priest. There are the tunes you would expect on a retrospective Priest release; however, there are some that did surprise me: "Let Us Prey" from "Sin After Sin," "Never The Heroes" from "Firepower," "Running Wild" from "Killing Machine" ("Hell Bent For Leather" as it was released in the States), "Victim of Changes" from "Sad Wings of Destiny" and "Beyond the Realms of Death" from "Stained Class." I'm glad to see those songs on this recording.

This release was fun to listen to and it just brought back all of the reasons I love Judas Priest. They simply kick ass and they have been doing so for decades and, hopefully, when everyone get healthy, they will be hitting the road again.

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Firepower" (Epic; 2018)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

In the months prior to the releaes of the latest Judas Priest album, "Firepower," BigDHui (of Junkulture Radio) and I listened to each pre-release track in awe. Based on the tracks we heard (first, "Firepower," then "Lightning Strikes" and finally "Never the Heroes"), it sounded like the Priest were back with a vengeance. Our concern, of course -- and it was a real one -- was that the band had only released the good tracks from the new CD and that the rest of them would be rather dull.

But then release day came along and I plugged "Firepower" into my CD player and listened to the entire thing through and through. And I am very excited to tell you that the Priest is indeed back, and "Firepower" stands among their greatest albums ... and that's no small feat!

"Firepower" is chock full of irresistible riffs, chugging rhythms, fiery leads and, of course, those trademark Rob Halford vocals. On this record, Judas Priest sounds like Judas Priest and that's exactly what we we're hoping for.

Now, unlike some others, I've actually enjoyed every album this band's released, including the genre-bending concept album "Nostradamus." But "Firepower" is the Judas Priest album we've been waiting for. Like Metallica's  "Hardwired ... To Self Destruct," "Firepower" is a return to the band's pure form, not that Judas Priest has ever strayed too far from it.

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Battle Cry" (Epic; 2016)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Judas Priest is famous for its incredible live albums. "Unleashed in the East," "Priest, Live!" "98 Live Meltdown" and the others are all amazing documents of one of the greatest  heavy metal bands ever and each album was pure evidence as to why that was.

"Battle Cry," as you might expect, is no different. It's a big, heavy, raw live album--probably Priest's heaviest ever--and it's loaded with hits, power-driving guitars, pounding bass and demolishing drums. Rob Halford remains one of metal's greatest singers. Don't get me wrong, his voice has changed over the years, but Halford knows how to change it, to continue to make it work, and it kicks ass on "Battle Cry."

This is also the first live album to feature Richie Faulkner, who replaced K.K. Downing recently. Faulkner holds his own and more here, delivering some slashing guitar leads that will keep your head spinning like any good Judas Priest record should. And, of course, Glenn Tipton is in fine form, too.

Bassist Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis get special notice here as well. The album seems designed to make their contribution the heaviest ever and "Battle Cry" will have your speakers shaking with thunder.

Judas Priest have been at the forefront of heavy metal since the genre was born and, judging from the powerful "Battle Cry," there is no sign they're stepping down from that throne anytime soon.

This performance is also available on DVD and Blu-Ray but is not reviewed here.

Judas Priest: Rob Halford - vocals; Ian Hill - bass; Richie Faulkner - guitar; Scott Travis - drums; Glenn Tipton - guitar. 

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Defenders of the Faith: Special 30th Anniversary Edition" (Legacy; 1984/2015)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Sometimes you just gotta wonder "How many times are the record companies going to try and sell me the same thing over and over?" I mean, there's a re-master of this, a "Collector's Edition" of that, a Special Edition of this ... it seems to go on and on ad nauseum.

But then, sometimes, you don't care. Such as is this case with the "Special 30th Anniversary Edition" of Judas Priest's classic "Defenders of the Faith."

Interestingly, there seems to be some debate about the greatness of this 1984 album. Some people argue that the lyrics are so bad that the music is negatively affected, others contend the production is awful and still others complain that the music wasn't up to the snuff of the band's previous album "Screaming for Vengeance." Personally, I never had a problem with "Defenders of the Faith." I tend to not pay close attention to lyrics (although I will agree that some of Priest's lyrics are pretty campy); the production sounds fine to me and I like every track on the album at least to some degree.

So we won't discuss the general quality of "Defenders" as a Judas Priest album; instead, we'll just leave each to his own. If you like the original album, great, if not, then this re-master obviously isn't for you. (Although I would mention that this is the album that contains "Freewheel Burning," "Some Heads are Gonna Roll" and "The Sentinel," undeniable Priest classics).

Speaking of the new re-master, again, it sounds fine to me. I really don't detect too much of a difference, and I played several tracks on the original recording and this re-master side-by-side. The new re-master seems to have a lower sound level and is a mite cloudier than the original but not enough for me to complain about it, especially when I've got it cranked so loud my speakers are distorting.

The bonus CDs included, which contain 21 tracks of the band's live performance at the Long Beach Arena in 1984 (I was there) sound great. The mastering is terrific, the band is in top form and the tracklisting is amazing. There's a reason Priest has always been revered for their live performance and this 1984 concert recording captures it in full bloom. Halford's screams can break glass or cut paper, the guitar solos are electrifying and the bass and drums come through clearly. Frankly, I would have bought this double-CD live set separately, if it were available. It's that good.

So do you really need this "Special Edition" CD in your Judas Priest collection? If it were just the re-master itself, I'd say no. The previous versions of this album still sound fine. But the double-live show included here is nearly worth the price alone ... depending on if you can find this release on sale.

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Redeemer of Souls" (Epic; 2014)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

We metal fans, and particularly we Judas Priest fans, held our collective breath when we heard that K.K. Downing was leaving Judas Priest. The legendary band owed its sound as much to K.K. as to any other member of the band and, despite the fact that the rest of the crew was along for the ride and that KK's replacement, Richie Faulkner, was supposed to be pretty damn good, there was no way of telling whether Priest's first album without K.K., "Redeemer of Souls," would deliver.

We needn't have worried.

"Redeemer of Souls" picks up right where previous Judas Priest albums have left off. It's chock full of chunky riffs, fiery leads, pounding rhythms and, of course, Rob Halford's trademark Metal God vocals. It's simply amazing that a band that's been creating this type of music for so many years still do it so well. And that a new bandmember could slide in as seamlessly as Faulkner does. Think about all the Judas Priest albums over the years ... decades for that point. Was there ever one that was truly disappointing? No! There may some that are better than others (and I think that "Redeemer of Souls" is one of those) but Judas Priest has never disappointed their fans. Now that's what I call a successful career.

I won't bother going track-by-track with this CD. Suffice to say there isn't a bad track on the CD although, again, there are some that are better than others ("Halls of Valhalla," for example, is one of the better ones). The lyrics seem to be mostly about swords and battle, something different for the band as far as I can remember, but something that works quite well here.

Is "Redeemer of Souls" as cutting edge classic as "British Steel" or as crushing as "Painkiller?" Of course not. But it still puts metal boot squarely in ass. My only complaint about the CD is that it will take another few years before we hear anything new from this legendary band.

By the way, there is also a Deluxe Edition of the album available, with a second disc and an additional six songs, which you can buy here:

Judas Priest: Rob Halford - vocals; Ian Hill - bass; Richie Faulkner - guitar; Scott Travis - drums; Glenn Tipton - guitar. 

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"British Steel: 30th Anniversary Edition" (Sony; 2010)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Not much can be said about Judas Priest's classic 1980 CD that hasn't been said before. Just read Snidermann's review below or simply dig out your old copy and give it another listen. It's amazing how well this record stands up after 30 years! "Rapid Fire" is probably even more impressive today and songs like "Breaking the Law" and "Grinder" are still nothing short of awesome. There's a reason this is considered one of the greatest heavy metal albums in history, and this 30th anniversary edition contains ample evidence that is not an undeserved reputation.

This special edition contains the 2001 re-mastered edition of the original CD (complete with the two bonus tracks included before - "Red White & Blue" and a live version of "Grinder." If there's any complaint about this edition, it's that most Priest fans already own the 2001 re-mastered edition and are understandably hesitant to buy it again. It would have been nice to have just a few more extras.

What sets this edition apart, however, is the included DVD, featuring the band in 2009 performing "British Steel" in its entirety, live, at the Seminole Hard Rock Arena in Hollywood, Florida, plus seven additional live tracks. It's a powerful performance, documenting this band's incredible staying power and continuing energy. Also included is a "Making of British Steel" interview segment.

So, if your dog ate your original copy of this CD, or you haven't graded to the 2001 re-master yet, this is the time to do it. "British Steel" is truly one of the genres' classics.

Judas Priest: Rob Halford - vocals; Ian Hill - bass; K.K. Downing - guitar; Scott Travis - drums; Glenn Tipton - guitar. 

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Nostradamus" (Sony; 2008)

Reviewed by Snidermann

To say Judas Priestís monumental release "Nostradamus" is simply a good concept album is like saying the Mona Lisa is simply a good painting or the pyramids in Gaza are simply cool architecture. The scope of this work not only tells the stories about the predictions of Nostradamus, but also what was going on in Europe circa the 1500s: plague, famine and drought, just to name a few. Nostradamus foresaw some pretty bad stuff, and you can choose to believe in his predictions or not. Did they actually come true or are they just some ramblings of a deranged mind? That is for the audience to decide.

There are three different versions available of this CD. The first is a standard, double-disc edition. The second (the version I chose) includes a brilliant book as well, featuring a forward by the band and full lyrics to the songs. The final version is a monstrous set with the double-CD, the book and the album on three vinyl records. Wow.

The first time I listened through to this recording, I followed along with the lyrics carefully; the second time, I just the let the music flow over me. Both times I learned discovered something different and I guess I will each and every time I listen to this recording.

"Nostradamus" is over one hundred minutes of music, a dual CD recording that is jam-packed with twisted and dark images of death, war, plague and a few other dire metaphors I have yet to explore Along with all the dark images this CD portrays, there is also an unexpected side; a side that deals with the brighter things in life: love, peace and harmony. 

Judas Priest have really outdone themselves (and everybody else for that matter) in taking on a most tenuous task of bringing this seerís work from the 1500s to life some 500 years later. Honestly, I've got to listen to this incredible album many more times before I'll really begin to understand it. It's art metal at its best. "Nostradamus" is not only is this the best concept album I have listened to in quite some time, but it may be the best overall recording I have ever listened to in my entire life.

Judas Priest: Rob Halford - vocals; Ian Hill - bass; K.K. Downing - guitar; Scott Travis - drums; Glenn Tipton - guitar. 

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Live Vengeance '82" DVD (Columbia Music Video/Legacy; 2006)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Judas Priest and heavy metal go hand in hand. When you think of the classics, the true pioneers of the genre, Judas Priest is right up there. I have been a true Priest fan for about 25 years, however, I never saw them in there heyday, when they were at their peak and the world was at their feet. 

As I watch the 1982 concert captured in "Live Vengeance '82," recorded during the band's "Screaming for Vengeance" tour, I see a band at the top of their game and giving the audience a show they will long remember. 

As of this writing, I have not seen Judas Priest with Rob Halford on vocals perform live. I did the Ripper Owens version of Priest, however). This DVD gives me a rare look at the great band at the height of their popularity. 

Every aspect of the band's live performance, good or bad, are shown here as it happened with no tricky editing that I could detect). Rob Halfordís voice is a bit strained here, but he still delivers a powerful performance. The entire band is simply dead-on for this performance and this DVD is one of the best live concert recordings I have seen ... and I have seen a lot. 

The show featured on this CD happened 24 years ago and the band's vitality and charisma just pour out of your TV set. I may not have been able to see the band back before the big breakup, but thanks to this DVD, now I've seen the pure power that is Judas Priest in all its former glory. 

Now, thanks to their incredible "Angel of Retribution" CD (released in 2005), I look forward to seeing the Halford-led Priest in the near future and I cannot wait.

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Angel of Retribution" (Epic; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

After waiting twelve years for new Judas Priest with Rob Halford back on vocals, there was no way "Angel of Retribution" was going to live up to the hype.

But ... sonovabitch! ... it does.

From the appropriately entitled first track ("Judas Rising") to the mammoth final track (the epic, 13-minute "Lochness"), "Angel of Retribution" does what it sets out to do: Show the world why Judas Priest has long been considered the gold standard for heavy metal and demonstrate that the band is as strong and vibrant as they've ever been.

First and foremost, Rob Halford is in fine shape here. His banshee screams and lower register are startlingly crisp and dynamic. It's amazing to think this guy has been signing like this for over three decades and can still sound so freaking good. Rob sounds even better on "Angel" than he did on his last few two albums ... and he was in fine form there. "Angel of Retribution" is a return to greatness by the Metal God himself.

Guitarists K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton return to greatness themselves on this CD. Whereas their solos on the two Halford-less CDs ("Jugulator" and "Demolition") were nearly out-of-control wads of chaos, the solos on "Angel" are closer to the classic Priest sound heard on CDs like "Painkiller." In other words, they're less frenetic and more ordered but still as fast and fiery as hell.

And, of course, bassist Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis give the band its rock solid backbone, helping keep the music tighter than should be humanly possible. Not bad for a line-up that hasn't recorded a new song together in twelve years.

Another successful aspect of "Angel of Retribution" is the variety of songs. If one were to try and compare this CD to previous Priest releases, you'd have to say that "Angel" covers the band's entire career, with each track emulating a different era in the band's evolution. "Revolution" sounds like it could have come off of "Turbo" while "Wheels of Fire" could have come from "Point of Entry" and so on.

Finally, there are the ballads. Although they may be even more gentle than previous Priest ballads, songs like "Angel" have a haunting edge that work its way into your brain and gets better each and every time you listen. These aren't sappy tunes designed to maximize radio airplay ("Revolution" comes closest to that with its Motley Crue chorus) but rather surprisingly emotional songs whose genuine heart gives them depth and meaning.

"Angel of Retribution" may not be everything I hoped for from this long-awaited reunion CD, but it's so frigging close, I couldn't be happier.

Judas Priest: Rob Halford - vocals; Ian Hill - bass; K.K. Downing - guitar; Scott Travis - drums; Glenn Tipton - guitar. 

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Angel of Retribution" (Epic; 2005)

Reviewed by Snidermann

"Angel Of Retribution" is the long awaited new effort by the recently re-united Judas Priest. After numerous spins of this CD, I find myself wanting to listen to nothing else. It is that good! 

From the very first few notes, I knew that "Angel" was going to rock and I was not disappointed. The first cut, "Judas Rising," shows that Priest is back and ready to take control of the metal world once again. There are a few ballads here but all are excellent ... and that's saying a lot because I don't think slow music usually has a place in heavy metal ... but this CD proved me wrong. 

The final cut is a song about the Loch Ness monster and it runs a staggering 13+ minutes. The length of the song did not put me off, because it's one of the album's best. 

The songwriting throughout is exceptional, with deep and thought provoking lyrics as well; however, that doesn't mean Priest can't write simple and heavy songs. They can and do and this release has it all. 

Also included in this deluxe edition is a DVD of the band's recent European tour featuring some old classics ("Breaking The Law," "Metal Gods," "A Touch Of Evil," "Hell Bent For Leather," "The Hellion/Electric Eye," "Diamonds and Rust" and "Living After Midnight").  There is also a cool commentary about the band getting back together. 

This is what a comeback release should sound like: well written (with a bit of darkness added), exceptional musicians and a shit load of attitude. It is what Judas Priest was about with their first release in 1974 ("Rocka Rolla") and it's what they're about now. 

"Angel Of Retribution" may be the best Judas Priest release ever. Then again, considering their catalog, probably not. Still, after twelve years of no new Priest (with Rob Halford on vocals), this CD is a breath of fresh air to this fan's metal pallet. 

Judas Priest: Rob Halford - vocals; Ian Hill - bass; K.K. Downing - guitar; Scott Travis - drums; Glenn Tipton - guitar. 

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Live In London" (SPV; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Let me start off by saying that "Live in London" is just as good as "98 Live Meltdown," reviewed quite spectacularly below. It's got the classic, dual Priest guitars, the legendary Priest songs, some of the best new Priest (including a couple from "Demolition" which, of course, couldn't have been on "Meltdown"). And it's got Ripper Owens, the man who filled the unfillable shoes of the one and only Rob Halford.

The problem with "Live In London," however, is that it's the second live Priest album since Ripper joined the band in 1997. And there have only been two studio albums since that time, too. What's up with that? 

True, Priest is at their best live - as this CD plainly demonstrates - but, come on, shouldn't there be more focus on new material? Add to that the fact that 19 of the 25 tracks hereon has been available since 2001 on the "Live In London" DVD and the lack of new material becomes even more glaringly obvious.

Still, any Priest is better than no Priest at all. And this two disc, 25-track collection, with over 2 hours of music, is pretty damn good. But I'd rather there were at least another studio album, better two, before having to resort to buying another live recording.

Judas Priest: Ripper Owens - vocals; Glenn Tipton - lead and rhythm guitars; K.K. Downing - lead and rhythm guitars; Ian Hill - bass; Scott Travis - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Demolition" (Atlantic; 2001)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It's taken too freakin' long for Judas Priest to release this follow-up to the Ripper Owens-debut on "Jugulator," but it's finally here at last. The question, however, is whether it was worth the wait.

The easy answer is yes. There's enough great music on "Demolition" to make it worth picking up the CD. Of course, you were probably going to do that anyway - it is Judas Priest after all. If you're looking for the band's trademark ultra-heavy metal, you need look no farther. "Demolition" is nothing if not a heavy record. While not as extreme as the previous studio release, "Jugulator," "Demolition" seems to concentrate more on just being Heavy with a capital "H." The riffs on "Demolition" are created to kill and, depending on how loud your stereo can go, they just might do that.

Unfortunately, "Demolition" has its share of near-clunkers as well. Songs that are just a little too good to be called simple filler but that don't measure up to anything else in the Judas Priest catalog. The first track, "Machine Man," is one of the better of these lesser tunes. It just kind of grinds on without any real form. "In Between" is another, a plodding rocker that at least puts Ripper's pipes to good use. "Lost And Found" is another one, coming as close to a ballad as Judas Priest has ever got. "Lost And Found" does feature some exceptional guitar but what the hell is it doing on this record? "Jekyll and Hyde" is another tune without much form. It just crunches along until it's over.

The good news is that "Demolition" also features some 100% pure, headbanging pleasures. "One on One," is an infectious metal wonder, as good as anything the band's recorded since Ripper signed up. "Hell Is Home" is a quirky little number that will have you screaming along with the chorus the first time you hear it. "Devil Digger" ain't bad and "Bloodsuckers" benefits from the songwriter's rage at criminal injustice.

The bottom line is this: Judas Priest is back and they're ready to kick your metal ass. They may not be at the level they were back in the "Stained Class" days but then, never was anybody else.

"Demolition" was produced by Glenn Tipton and co-produced by Sean Lynch.

Judas Priest: Ripper Owens - vocals; Glenn Tipton - lead and rhythm guitars; K.K. Downing - lead and rhythm guitars; Ian Hill - bass; Scott Travis - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Genocide" (Snapper Music; 2000)

Reviewed by Snidermann

This release is a re-issue of two previous recordings: "Rocka Rolla" in 1974 and "Sad Wings Of Destiny" in 1976. Personally, I discovered Priest pretty late in life and hadn't really caught up on the band's early work. Until now. 

The music contained on "Genocide" is basic metal music stripped down to its musical core. This shit really moves and is just good, solid rock'n'roll music. There are some slow and sappy ballads that must be endured, the type of which, thankfully, do not appear in later Priest recordings. 

This music explores the musical genius that is Judas Priest. These four guys together are pure magic and the chemistry is just as strong in the early 70ís as it was in the mid to late 80ís. I was never lucky enough to see this lineup (Tipton, Downing, Hill and Halford) perform; however, I will always hope they get together for at least one last record and tour.

JUDAS PRIEST is: Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing on guitars, Ian Hill on bass, Rob Halford on vocals; Alan Moore on drums.

"'98 Live Meltdown" (CMC International; 1998) S_jplive98.jpg (6228 bytes)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I can scarcely catch my breath to write this review. From the day I received this double CD, it's been played through at least once a day, sometimes as many as three times. "98 Live Meltdown" is, quite simply, one of the best hard rock/heavy metal recordings to come along in years. Judas Priest is a band that has come back from ... well, not quite the dead, but close ... to re-claim the heavy metal crown that was theirs and to do so with a fury and a vengeance that is captured in this double live recording, capturing the best moments of this year's "Jugulator" tour (see our review of the "Jugulator" show).

Containing 24 songs and over 120 minutes of music, "98 Live Meltdown" is not only advertised but is the definitive live Judas Priest collection. From classic Priest tunes such as "The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)" to the newest stuff ("Bullet Train," "Death Row") "98 Live Meltdown" covers all the bases. And each and every song has been given new life with the band's new lineup and current charisma.

According to the CD, "the only edits are where we have blended the different audiences together between songs in order to recreate the atmosphere of a non-stop Priest concert rather than subject everyone to continual fade-in and fade-outs from different shows." Whether that's true or not (the rawness of this CD indicates that it is), "98 Live Meltdown" sounds like a live Priest concert. Bursting with power, each song explodes from the speakers as though it were being performed live, right here and now.

And the band's performance can be called nothing short of spectacular. "'98 Live Meltdown" is tight and intense throughout. And Ripper Owens' stunning vocals on this CD further prove that he fits Priest like a foot fits a sock - both on the old and new tunes.

Any heavy metal fan should have a copy of "'98 Live Meltdown" in their CD collection. This CD kicks some serious ass.

JUDAS PRIEST is Ripper Owens, vocals; Glenn Tipton, Guitars; K.K. Downing, Guitars; Ian Hill, bass; Scott Travis, drums.

"Jugulator" (CMC International; 1997)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

When "Jugulator" was first released in 1997, it had been a long damn time - seven years - since Rob Halford had left the band. At the time, rumor had it that Rob split because Priest wasn't playing the music he wanted to play. Rob went on to form bands like Fight, whose music was considerably more extreme and aggressive than Priest's more "mainstream" metal.

Interestingly enough, when "Jugulator" hit the bins with new vocalist Ripper Owens at the microphone, the band had turned up the aggression knob on their sound, too. "Jugulator" was a powerhouse of a metal recording, too extreme for many of the band's fans, fans who knew every lick of "Stained Class" and "Hell Bent For Leather" by heart. Whether it was the new songwriting dynamic without Halford, the seven years of metal evolution between Halford's exit and Owens' entrance or just because the band felt like really tearing it up, Judas Priest was heavier than ever.

"Jugulator" is the kind of CD that might take a couple of listens to get used to. It's very different from the band's last studio CD, "Painkiller," and, in fact, doesn't sound much like the old Judas Priest at all. It's heavier, darker, and much more brutal. You won't hear "Jugulator" on the same radio stations you still hear "Headin' Out to the Highway" on. Repeated listens, however, find the material sounding better and better. Let the shock wear off a little and "Jugulator" works really well. Priest may have changed a little but they're still one of the premiere metal bands. 

Don't blame Owens for the band's new sound. Not only does he step into Halford's shoes and fits them quite nicely, he also brings new life to the band. Owens can scream like the banshee that was Halford but has his own style and unique talent as well. My only complaint - and this applies to the band's follow-up, "Demolition" as well - is that I get the feeling that Owens is being held back by the other band members because he's the "new guy." Give him some room to grow and let's see where he takes us!

Judas Priest: "Ripper" Owens - vocals; Glenn Tipton - guitars; K.K. Downing - guitars; Ian Hill - bass; Scott Travis - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Metal Works '73 - '93" (Sony Music; 1993)

Reviewed by Snidermann

If you don't know who Judas Priest are, then you've got to be visiting the wrong website! 

Priest, one of the greatest Metal bands of all time, is given a glorious tribute with this spectacular, 2-CD set containing some of the band's best material from the albums released prior through 1993. If you've only got a couple of these classic Priest albums in your collection then this set is just the thing to fill in the blanks. (Of course, it would be even better to put the complete Judas Priest library on your shelf, but this collection is a close second).

"Metal Works '73-'93" allows you to remember how truly awesome the music of Judas Priest was at their heyday. Despite the fact that Ripper Owens has stepped so effectively before the Priest microphone, the band has never really been the same since Rob Halford left. This double CD set captures almost two hour of classic heavy metal and showcases the band at their zenith. It's got the big hits and some obscure tracks as well. But one thing is consistent throughout: the pure heavy metal power of Judas Priest!

"Painkiller" (Sony; 1990)

Reviewed by J. Kennedy

After the release of 1988's "Ram It Down," many metal fans felt Priest were starting to lose that magic touch. Sure, "Ram It Down" was a fantastic album which served to continue the Priest steamroller. That's all it did however - continued the steamroller. Perhaps what the fans wanted was something different. 

Judas Priest reinvented themselves from out of nowhere with the simply awesome "Painkiller." The "Guide to Heavy Metal" is what I like to call it. From start to finish, this is one of the greatest pieces of metal ever recorded. 

The key to the Priest's reinvention was the band's parting with longtime drummer Dave Holland. In his place behind the kit sat Scott Travis. The man had played with several bands before joining Priest and perhaps most notably was the sticksman for Racer X. He added a new dimension to JP with his double bass kick work. From the opening bars of the title track, we knew Priest were onto something special. There was a certain fire back inside every member's belly. Gone were the (admittedly experimental) synths and in were the brutallic riffs and pounding drums. Halford also sounds like he has something to prove on this album, screaming like a banshee. 

Some songs, such as "All Guns Blazing," make you sit back in complete and total awe. This is how heavy metal should be done - plain and simple. Sadly, this was the last Priest album featuring Halford on vocals, at least until the new CD comes out in early 2005. 

If you are any sort of metal fan, this album at least deserves a listen. Surely one of the greatest rock albums of all time, this is heavy metal ... Priest style.

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Painkiller" (Sony; 1990)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Judas Priest's 1990 "Painkiller" was released to less than stellar reviews, most of which stated in none-too-subtle terms that this was not one of the band's best efforts. 

What the hell where they thinking? 

"Painkiller" is loaded with Priest's basic signature sound: guitars galore, thundering bass and drums, dark/twisted tunes and Rob Halford out front doing what he does best - sing like a banshee. All of those things combined with some ultra cool cover art makes "Painkiller" a truly great CD. 

Judas Priest fans worldwide know what I am talking about and fuck all the so called critics who think "Painkiller" is anything but a superior metal release in every way. I am listening to this CD again as I write this review and, even ten years after I first heard it, I am blown away by the sheer coolness of "Painkiller." 

Judas Priest: Rob Halford - vocals; Ian Hill - bass; K.K. Downing - guitar; Scott Travis - drums; Glenn Tipton - guitar. 

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Ram It Down" (Sony; 1988)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Five musicians brought together to make metal majesty. That is Judas Priest. 

Producers have tried to replicate it, bands have tried to duplicate it, but none have come close to the metal magic that is Judas Priest. 

Originally released in 1988, "Ram It Down" showcases the brilliance and complexity that all metal fans came to love and respect. It is an example of heavy metal at its very best. Dark, sinister songs about the end of the world and cybernetic monsters that would fit into any science fiction story run wild in this release, heavier than most of the band's previous CDs.

Priest bandmembers Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K. K. Dowling, Ian Hill and Dave Holland are pure metal magnetism in this totally awesome recording. Also featured is a crushing rendition of the classic Chuck Berry tune, "Johnny B. Goode," that just adds flavor and vitality to an already killer release. Bonus tracks on the recent remaster include live versions of "Night Comes Down" and "Bloodstone."

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Turbo" (Sony Music; 1986)

Reviewed by Snidermann

What sets a super metal group apart from other bands? A good question and, if the answer were out there, every other metal band would be using the answer to make them as good as Judas Priest. 

1986's "Turbo" is as good a metal release as there is anywhere out there today or yesterday. Not only does "Turbo" kick metal ass, the songs are extremely well written taking on issues ranging from the confines of parental control to heartache to the wild rock'n'roll lifestyle. 

Tom Allom produced this CD to perfection. Some have complained about the synthesizers but they're being shallow-minded. Technically speaking, "Turbo" is one of Judas Priest's best overall releases and their daring use of those synthesizers is one reason.

It would be very hard for me to narrow down my favorite Priest release, but "Turbo" would definitely be one of this. This shit is loud, push you to the edge metal and showcases the band's ability to communicate their style of music perfectly.

Judas Priest are the painters, "Turbo" is the canvas and all we have to do is appreciate the art. (Speaking of art, as with any Priest album, the cover art is excellent and highly imaginative.)

Judas Priest: Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing, Ian Hill and Dave Holland.

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Point of Entry" (Sony Music; 1981)

Reviewed by Snidermann

1981 was a pivotal year when it comes to the heavy metal band Judas Priest. They had just released "British Steel," which went platinum. What to do next? At this time Judas Priest is just one of a thousand other bands out there trying to make it happen in the music industry. Of course, there were the Rolling Stones, kicking out their massive hit "Tattoo You." "Foreigner 4" was released and Rush's "Moving Pictures" was also released that year. Blue Oyster released "Fire of Unknown Origin," Joan Jett "Bad Reputation," and Ozzy released "Diary of a A Man." Yes, yes, yes. That was all great music, no question. Judas Priest was just another band on the cusp of heavy metal greatness.

However, when "British Steel" was released the previous year, it was about that time where people were looking at Judas Priest differently. They were saying, "Holy Shit! This is what Priest is all about!" Instead of making another record that sounded just like "British Steel," the band recorded and released "Point of Entry." I think "Point of Entry" was a step back into the basics of what made Judas Priest who they are today.

"Point of Entry" was something not so commercial or radio friendly as the previous recording. It was different and I believe it did not do as well as "British Steel." Still, "Point of Entry" is a fucking great rock'n'roll release. At this point I am thinking the band is saying we that we will make the music we want to and, if you don't like it, then fuck off!

I found "Point of Entry" to be a nice pallet-cleansing release after the monster release that was "British Steel." Did Priest do this on purpose? I don't know. But what I do know I will probably never again listen to "British Steel" without first listening to "Point of Entry." The two go together, like a fine wine with meat or a strong cup of coffee with breakfast.

I challenge anyone familiar with the band to listen to "Point of Entry" in its entirety, and then to "British Steel" and I think you will know what I am taking about.

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"British Steel" (Sony Music; 1980)

Reviewed by Snidermann

It pains me to admit it, but - until yesterday - I had never taken the time to sit down and listen to Judas Priestís 1980 release British Steel. Sure, my friends told me it kicked ass and sure, I've heard the great tunes on the radio and at live shows but - until yesterday - I had never heard the entire CD from start to finish.

But now I have and the word to best sum up my experience is simply ... WOW!!

"British Steel" features metal in the purest, most refined form I have ever witnessed.  The classic tracks are here: "Breaking The Law" and "Living After Midnight" but each and every tune on this CD is a finely structured metal masterpiece.  

Most bands dream of recording one release with the musical magic of "British Steel" and Priest has done it, not only here, but in other recordings as well. If you ask me, Judas Priest is one of the top three metal bands of all time. (Wanna know who the others are? Write me at snidermann@roughedge.com).

Judas Priest: Glenn Tipton - guitars; K.K. Downing - guitars; Ian Hill - bass; Dave Holland - drums; Rob Halford - vocals. 

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Unleashed in the East" (Columbia/Legacy; 1979)

Reviewed by Snidermann

The digitally re-mastered "Unleashed In The East" is as good a live recording as there is. Priest are dead on and they deliver a live performance that sounds like it could have been recorded in a studio. 

Rob Halford shows why his is considered by many (including me) as the greatest rock vocalist of all time. Rob hits the high notes with little effort and with stunning clarity. The band is tight and the chemistry between these five guys is obvious. 

I have only two rock'n'roll regrets in life and one is never being able to see the original Led Zeppelin perform live. The other is seeing Priest live with Rob Halford on vocals. I still hold out hope for that one. 

"Unleashed in the East" is truly a landmark live CD and with the four new bonus tracks just make it that much better. Simply fucking awesome. 

Judas Priest: Rob Halford - vocals; Glenn Tipton - guitars; K.K. Downing - guitars; Ian Hill - bass; Les Binks - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Killing Machine/Hellbent for Leather" (Columbia/Legacy; 1978)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Judas Priest's 1978 release "Killing Machine" was released in the US as "Hell Bent For Leather." This recording is a turning point for the band during which the record companies, the producers and the band are trying to figure out how to present this band for the ultimate effect. If you look at the first four Judas Priest releases, the music is good and the charisma and drive are there but the production value is just not where it should be and, in fact, will be in the near future. It isn't fair to evaluate this recording now based on what we know what the band will become ... but I'm going to do just that.

There are songs on this album that follow the band to the present day: "Hell Bent For Leather," "Delivering The Goods," and, of course, "The Green Manalishi with the Two-Pronged Crown." I had to look online to figure out just what the heck a manalishi is. According to Wikipedia, the song was written by Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green. He was battling LSD abuse at the time, went to sleep, and dreamed about a stray dead dog barking about money. Wow, that shit is super weird,  even for me!. There is more to the story at Wikipedia so check it out if you get a chance.

There is some powerful music on this album and I can only figure everyone involved ófrom the record company, to the producers, to the road crew, to the band ... to society in generalóneeded to witness Judas Priest as they was in the 70s to truly appreciate what they became in the 80s with the release of the classic alubm, "British Steel."

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Stained Class" (Columbia/Legacy; 1978)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This re-mastered edition of the classic Priest album is remarkable for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it contains the complete original album, recorded in 1978, which is a true example of pioneering heavy metal.  There are licks, riffs and styles throughout "Stained Class" whose influence you still hear in metal today. And, of course, the now-legendary "Beyond the Realms of Death" makes its first appearance here.

Second, there's the incredible re-mastering. If you didn't know "Stained Class" was recorded in 1978, you'd never know it by listening to this CD. The sound is crystal clear, the highs high, the lows low. I haven't spun the original disc in a long time, but I sure don't remember it sounding this good.

Third, the two bonus tracks - "Fire Burns Below," which was recorded by the band "during the earlier years" of their career and a live version of "Better By You, Better Than Me" that was recorded during the one of the band's world tours. "Fire Burns Below" is a rough little demo which still sounds surprisingly good and the live "Better By You" is razor sharp and charismatic (although Rob does have a difficult time reaching those high notes).

Finally, there's the liner notes and packaging. The liner notes, although only a few paragraphs, tell us a lot about "Stained Class." For example, all but one of the songs on the CD were produced by Dennis MacKay. However, when the record company asked the band to record a cover (to boost albums sales), James Guthrie was called in to record cover Spooky Tooth's "Better By You, Better By Me." The lyrics are also enclosed here, including even the demo of "Fire Burns Below."

"Stained Classic" is a real rock'n'roll classic re-released in the style it deserves. Twelve of Priest's albums have been re-mastered and re-released, and I'm looking forward to hearing all of them.

Judas Priest: Les Binks - drums; Ian Hill - bass guitar; K.K. Downing - guitar; Robert Halford - vocals; Glenn Tipton - guitar, vocals.

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

"Stained Class" (Columbia/Legacy; 1978)

Reviewed by Snidermann

I know this CD has been reviewed once before, but I think it's worth reviewing again.

"Stained Class" is not only true Priest, it also reminds us of what good rock'n'roll should be: no hype, no overproduction - just stripped down, no bullshit, solid metal music. "Stained Class" is as powerful today as it was when it was first released.

I recently picked up the CD version of this release and it had been some time since I'd listened to it. I almost completely forgot what great Priest songs are on this release. There are some of the Priest standards like "Exciter" and "Beyond The Realms Of Death," but some of the lesser known tunes on the CD are also some of the best. Listen again for yourself and see if you don't agree.

"Stained Class" is powerful, well-written and solid to the core. Every Priest fan not familiar with "Stained Class" - if there are any out there - should go out and buy this bitchin' CD at their first convenience.

Judas Priest: Les Binks - drums; Ian Hill - bass guitar; K.K. Downing - guitar; Robert Halford - vocals; Glenn Tipton - guitar, vocals.

For more information, check out http://www.judaspriest.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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