What were Judas Priest’s “Best Years”?

I’m kind of in a bad way right now, and it’s exam season. Despite this, I’m going to try to keep the ball rolling. Here’s a short piece on the different eras of one of my favourite bands, Judas Priest.

I think Judas Priest’s biggest time in the spotlight (definitely their biggest time for sales) was from British Steel (1980) up to Turbo (1986), at which point they got too commercial and then crashed with Ram it Down in 1988 (An album I still really like.) After that we got Painkiller (1991), but Halford must have still been interested in spiralling outward, because shortly after he exited the band and started a solo career. (Not on purpose, there was an issue with the label, but he really wanted to do solo work)

Back in the beginning, Rocka Rolla (1974) to around Stained Class (1978), they were considered by some to be a band with an experimental style. The kind of early metal that still mixed with the blues and was still called rock (check Dreamer Deceiver). The pinnacle of this sound, I think most would agree, was Stained Class. Afterwards Hell Bent for Leather dropped; the transition into the British Steel era.

When Halford left after Painkiller, the band died. There was no Judas Priest from 1992-1995. It was during those exact years that Halford’s solo band Fight ran. Other ex-Priest members weren’t slouching either. Scott Travis actually joined Fight, and Tiptonn recorded material that would later become Baptizm of Fire (1997) and Edge of the World (2006). It was around then that the band decided to get back together. They had everyone except for a singer, (Halford would move on to 2wo in 1994 and then “Halford” in 1999) so they started auditioning. One day Scott Travis found someone who had a crazy vocal range, and even knew how to perform all the Priest classics.

And thus, in 1996, the so called “Ripper era” was born. With Halford gone, Glenn Tipton took the reins (I think) as the leader. A year later Jugulator came out, and it was a little intense, but it made sense after Painkiller. Demolition (2001) was probably the biggest black sheep of the Judas Priest discography, but I have a theory about that. K.K. Downing wrote a lot less of the songs on it (5/13), which meant that Glenn Tipton penned 60% of the album without him. And compare it to Batptizm of Fire! They sound very similar. With Tim Owens as the vocalist it’s true that Priest sounded different, but it wasn’t because of him. It was because the writing team of Halford, K.K., and Tipton, went from 3 to 2, and then almost to 1. (This may have been the beginning of the end for K.K.)

Since Halford returned in 2003, I feel like the band has looking back and trying to figure themselves out. Angel of Retribution (2004) was highly retrospective, referencing a lot of older songs and styles, while adding a new touch. Released in 2008, Nostradamus was an experimental step in an interesting direction. I think with a bit more editing and research it could have been great, but it comes off a little longwinded. Redeemer of Souls, like Retribution, feels like a look back, but also a look forward with songs like, “The Beginning of the End” and “Going Down in Flames”.

The new album, Firepower, looks highly energetic. It sounds like a fusion of Halford’s Resurrection, Jugulator, and Angel of Retribution. They aren’t messing around this time around. Although it’s hard to tell with a 15 second clip, I feel like they’re returning to a more natural direction.

For me, their best years are modern Priest. I like to see what they have been doing most recently, and I want to make the best of the newer albums while the band is still kicking. When Ian Hill was asked what his favourite was, he said, “Ask anybody that, I always say ‘the last album’.” Hill explains proudly, “Which at that moment in time it is the new album. Just because we’ve spent so much time on it, you know? But it is” (Macek). This sense of pride In the end, the “best era” for Judas Priest should be the one that matches your own tastes best. And don’t be afraid to check them all out from time to time as well.


Works Cited

Macek, J.C. “‘We’re All Fans’: An Interview with Judas Priest’s Ian Hill.” PopMatters, PopMatters, 1 June 2017, www.popmatters.com/193529-were-all-fans-an-interview-with-judas-priests-ian-hill-2495529544.html.

Judas Priest has been one of my favourite bands since around August of 2014 when Redeemer of Souls came out to . I listened to them pretty seriously until around early 2017. I still listen to them here and there, but my main band at the moment is Falling Up.

Daniel Triumph.

P. S.

I do have another story in mind, but it’s going to take a bit of work. Hopefully I get it out later this week.

Bare Handed

Jason Arson walked through the streets, sliding leather gloves onto his fingers as he went. The reason Jason wore gloves was so that he could distance himself from any actions he made while wearing them. It was a single degree of separation, but for him it was enough.

He was twenty minutes behind his schedule, and it made him agitated. He was still ten minutes ahead, his schedules were very early, but it still put him out of his element. He had less time to hand anything unexpected or unwanted. He had considered breaking into a run or light jog, but either of these would make him stand out. Right now, he needed to blend.

Jason had grown his hair and beard specifically so that no one would recognise him. So far it was working because the townspeople didn’t, especially since he no longer wore the uniform of a guard. Those that knew him best and might see through the disguise were in the castle. He knew he should feel safe about remaining anonymous in the crowd, but he felt as if he had forgotten something.

He turned a corner and saw it at the end of the street. The building with the item he was looking for. He looked at the sundial in the centre of the intersection. He was still behind, but he still had some time. He would sneak into the front door of the building just as the back door was being locked, and then hide as the owner locked up the front and left. Then he would find the paper bag, and unlock one of the doors, and leave. When Jason left, he would have to leave the building unlocked, since he had no key. That wouldn’t be an issue depending on how valuable the item inside the bag was.

Jason walked down the street towards the building and then he noticed someone. He recognized one of the faces. Why, was it a castle guard he knew? But they should all be on duty right now. He looked at the person’s face. It was a younger woman. No, he knew her for a different reason. This was one of the construction workers who had helped renovate the castle when had worked there.

He imagined what she would say if she recognized him. She would ask him what happened, she would ask him why he left. She would say that she was going to tell everyone that he was still in town. That he had just grown a beard, and to look out for him on the streets. To say hi, or something. Jason shook his head. She would ruin everything. He swiftly turned around before anyone noticed him, and took a detour. This was why he liked to be early.

When he finally got  to the building, he figured that he had no more than a few minutes. Could couldn’t seen anyone inside, but the door was still open. He figured that they must have gone to lock up the back, so he rushed inside and looked around. Where was the paper bag? He looked around the cabinets of syrups. He was confused, syrups used to be considered medicine, until people found out that they weren’t very healthy, that they just made a person feel good. Sort of. Syrups were now just used for intoxication. Jason sighed, and then saw the paper bag on a side counter. He walked over and grabbed it, then immediately realized his mistake.

He had messed up the order and grabbed the bag before the owner had left.

A man rounded the corner of the shop, just as Jason guessed would happen. Jason didn’t freeze, his instincts knew that that would look more suspicious. Instead, he continued picking up the paper bag, and then looked at the man, as if he belonged here, as if this was normal behaviour. And, thanks to ingrained social cues, the man believed it.

“That’s a new drink. I haven’t made a place for it on the shelves yet.”

On the shelves? Jason looked inside the paper bag. It was a bottle of syrups. He assumed that he had grabbed the wrong bag. This couldn’t be what he had been sent to take. He looked around for another bag, but there were none. This was what he had been sent to steal? Of all things, a bottle of syrups?

“Yep, it’s not a very expensive one, but it is our newest product. You can buy it if you like.”

Jason considered putting the bag down, and saying no, then exiting and coming back later to take it. That wouldn’t work, he would immediately be assumed to be the thief! And what then, if the guard was looking for his description? They would know both his trimmed and full grown faces! He couldn’t grow more beard. Jason thought for a moment, and then he knew what to do.

He put the bottle and the bag on the table.

“How much?” He asked.

The owner said, “twelve Solune.”

Jason nodded. He took his gloves off, put them in his jacket pocket, and took his coin pouch out of it. With his bare hands, he paid the man and took the bag with the bottle of syrups and walked out of the shop. He headed back to where he started. As he walked, he considered having a smug conversation with the leader about how he ended up getting the bag, what was actually in it in the first place.

Writing this one was actually a real struggle. I haven’t written anything outside of essays in the last ten days (I technically wrote four last week, although two were shorter philosophy essays for an exam). Sunchaser was written on the 23rd, and it’s the 3rd now, so it’s really been a while. (You should check Sunchaser out, it’s cool).

Anyway, my mind was blank. I thought about writing another chapter of the Solune Prince, but I’m really still not sure what to do about that series. So, I looked through the music on my computer for inspiration. I looked at a Calvin Harris album that I haven’t listened to in over a year, (his lyrics are kind of shallow), and found Slow Acid. It reminded me of the one preview I wrote with Jason Arson way back, and so here we are. (And Jason’s back story has been expanded upon since that one piece. Although the surround project has since been mostly abandoned.)

Anyway, hope you enjoyed it,

Daniel Triumph.

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