Judas Priest and his influence on the new wave of British heavy metal

When the world thinks of heavy metal in its pure, potent, and undiluted form, the first thing that comes to mind is the gods of metal, Judas Priest. This band is described as having studs and whips, chrome and black leather and a chopper on stage.

This heavy metal band started in Birmingham, England, where Black Sabbath also started in 1971. It was created by former classmates KK Downing and Ian Hill. They have known each other since childhood because they live close by and attended the same nursery and school in West Bromwich. When they reach adolescence, they share the same interest, music. The heavy metal band was formed in 1969 along with their lead singer, Al Atkins, and their drummer, John Ellis. After the addition of Atkins, Downing decided to change the name of the band to Judas Priest. It is named after a local ensemble.

After a while, Atkins left the band because he thinks the band isn’t going anywhere. He was replaced by Rob Halford, Hill’s brother-in-law, and brought in a new drummer, John Hinch, from his previous band. In 1974 the band also added a new guitarist, Glen Tipton. The band signed to a small record label and ended up having poor sales for their first album Rocka Rolla. However, that all changed when they released their second album Sad Wings of Destiny. The album did so well that the band received a record deal at Columbia Records in the US. Judas Priest’s fame continued after they released their next album Sin After Sin. The band stormed the US and UK charts until 1982. By the late 1980s the band lost their UK touch, but remain popular in the US.

Judas Priest heavily influenced the new wave of British heavy metal from the late 1970s. MTV.com named the band the second biggest heavy metal band, after Black Sabbath. The formation of the band really affected some metal music. In fact, the band is also known for being revolutionary in heavy metal fashion. Rob Halford began using a macho image in what is now known as hardcore metal or sometimes as the biker style. The lead singer of the band began to incorporate this new style as early as 1978 and the rest of the band followed his style. After a while, the fashion made by Judas Priest became a mainstay of heavy metal and several bands followed this style.

While Judas Priest is inarguably one of the most influential heavy metal bands of all time, and actually did a lot in the NWOBHM days, for me they started to wane after Point of Entry.

I was first introduced to Priest with Stained Class, what an album, and then quickly got down to business with Sad Wings of Destiny (best Priest EVER) and Sin After Sin. What a trio of progressive and inventive heavy metal offerings. A few trips to Sheffield town hall followed to see them on tour, though I can’t remember which tours. It was a long time ago, but I think it could have been around the time of the Killing Machine or British Steel. Great stuff and what a live band – so…

After that, Screaming for Vengeance was too cheesy for my taste and while Point of Entry has some good moments, it has too many light ones. Melloweven. For me, that was the end of the classic Judas Priest and I never really got into what followed, Halford’s departure and all, but rather frequently revisited the classics from its early years, including British Steel.

When Angel of Retribution came out I bought it mainly out of curiosity and it’s not a bad album at all and I proved that they can still do it. The sad thing is I went to see them on that tour in Manchester and they sucked. It really sucked. We even left early. The best part was hands down seeing the Scorpions in the support spot (and then headlining).

Judas Priest deserves its place as Metal Gods, although for me you can’t top the first things. Your ears will adore Sad Wings of Destiny, Stained Class, Sin After Sin as the template followed by many heavy/prog bands to follow. Give your ears a treat and get them today.

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