Saturday, January 4, 2014

Judas Priest - Defenders of the Faith

Today (January 4th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Defenders of the Faith, the ninth studio album from the British heavy metal Judas Priest. This Platinum selling album from 1984 went to number 21 in Germany, number 19 in the UK, number 18 on the US Billboard Album chart (it spent thirty-seven weeks total on the chart), number 17 in Canada and Norway, number 12 in Switzerland, number 9 in Denmark, number 5 in Finland, and number 2 in Austria and Sweden.

The line-up for the band for this one was Rob Halford (vocals), K.K. Downing (guitar), Ian Hill (bass), Dave Holland (drums) and Glenn Tipton (guitar).

Side one begins with “Freewheel Burning”; as the first single it reached number 42 in the UK. The track was actually released in 1983, a year prior to the album, and the music video includes a young boy playing the arcade version of Pole Position. I really like the fast and furious opening guitar licks; they instantly get me pumped up.

“Jawbreaker” keeps the energy level going with another relentless rocker.

Judas Priest gives their fans a creed to live by with “Rock Hard Ride Free”.

“The Sentinel” opens with a guitar solo before exploding.

Side two opens with the second single “Love Bites”. The opening is dark and ominous, and the rest seems like it was tailor-made for the soundtrack for an urban vampire drama.

“Eat Me Alive”, a rapid-fire number about oral sex, brought the band some heat with Tipper Gore and the PMRC (the Parents Music Resource Center) committee in 1985.

The third single “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” stopped at number 97 on the UK charts. This one definitely stirs up some long buried memories; I am pretty sure the local album-oriented rock stations liked to play this track.

The band brings things down a bit with the lighter-waving ballad “Night Comes Down”.

On the march-like “Heavy Duty”, the music mood is thick and chunky. It is a good counter-balance to so many speeding guitar riffs from the first half of the album. It leads directly into the final track, the minute-and-a-half long title track “Defenders of the Faith”.

I was only a casual metal listener back in the early 80’s, most of the tracks found here on Defenders of the Faith were unknown to me until this review. I definitely enjoyed listening to it though. What I like about Judas Priest here is the razor-sharp arrangements and crisp-clean sound.


Kris Shaw said...

I am a HUGE Priest fan. I had this album on vinyl, then cassette, then CD, then remastered CD. It should be noted that the 2001 CD remaster (and all subsequent pressings)are, in fact, defective. They switched the left and right channels for reasons unknown. The original LP and CD had Glenn's guitar on the left and K.K.'s on the right, and this is the opposite for the 2001 remaster.

HERC said...

Best Album of the Year (so far).

Only ever owned the vinyl and original CD pressing though. I wonder if I'd notice the swapped channels? (On Spotify, the album is labeled as Copyright 1984, 2001 so its probably the Remastered. Gonna have to A/B it.) Do you think there will be a 30th Anniversary of this album?

"Freewheel Burning" was the first song performed at the end of the year Air Guitar show my Senior year (1984). I gave the three guys a perfect 10/10 for their energetic effort while my fellow judges were not as enthusiastic in their scoring.

My very first concert was Judas Priest in Feb. 1983, behind Screaming For Vengeance - they called it the World Vengeance Tour. Opened with awesome "The Hellion"/"Electric Eye" (just like the album) and I believe Rob sang the song while reclining on the motorcycle he rode onto the stage.

Saw them again in May 1984 (Metal Conqueror Tour - first song was "Love Bites") and in May 1986 (Fuel For Life Tour - opened with "Out In The Cold"). The worst thing I can say about those Judas Priest concerts is that the guy-girl ratio was pathetic, like 50 guys for every girl. Definitely the worst such ratio of any of the hundred plus shows I've attended.

Thnaks, Martin, you just my day!