Sunday, October 18, 2015

Judas Priest – Defenders Of The Faith

My relationship with Judas Priest started with this album. I saw the video for "Freewheel Burning" on the TV back in my beardless youth and Rob Halford's voice cut deep into my innocent teenage brain and that cut has probably not yet healed properly. And Halford's voice still tickles me. Goddamn, Judas Priest did nothing wrong right up to the metal masterpiece "Painkiller" in 1991. Then things went south.

Glenn Tipton and KK Downing's twin guitars are the trademark of Judas Priest in combination with Rob Halford's voice. Without this trinity it all would fall pretty flat to the ground. Just look at how lost Judas Priest was without Halford during the 90s. And Halford didn’t really find a proper new home with his various other projects; the brutal sounding Fight and the more industrial 2wo. They had their moments for sure. But in the end it was the self-titled solo project that brought him back to the throne as The Metal God back in 2000.

Well, let’s get back to Judas Priest and “Defenders Of The Faith”. The chemistry of Halford/Downing/Tipton celebrates its biggest triumphs in the years between 1980 to 1984. "Defenders of the Faith" might not quite reach the levels of high grade metal that "Screaming For Vengeance" does which is, along with "Painkiller" (more about that album another time), my favorite album by the priests. But on this one there are some tracks belonging to the clergy's greatest moments.

The first single “Freewheel Burning" is what defines heavy metal in the 80s. "Jawbreaker" is absolutely fantastic and "Rock Hard Ride Free" is good sing-along metal. But the real highlight of the album is "The Sentinel". I never get tired of the dark ominous intro, the heavy barrage of riffs before the solo in the middle, and then the grand crescendo where Halford reaches frequencies that threatens to crush glass when he screams "Sworn to avenge condemn to hell / Tempt not the blade / All fear the Sentinel." This is the ultimate Judas Priest moment in my book. Rob's voice is larger than life and cannot be argued with. And then we leap into the finale with "Heavy Duty" and the magical title track that ends the album with the metalheads prayer that tells us that we are defenders of the faith. This is where we are forced to realize that Judas Priest are the true fundamentalists of heavy metal and we have no choice but to bow down at the altar.

Of course time has done it’s worst to wear down “Defenders Of The Faith”. The sound and production might not be as exciting as it was 31 years ago. But the songs and attitude still shine through the fog of the ages that has passed and shows us the magic that heavy metal once used to possess in the world. And I am still a defender of the faith.

- The Void 

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