Judas Priest and Their Influence on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal

When the world thinks about heavy metal in its pure, potent, undiluted form, the first think that comes to their mind is the Metal Gods, Judas Priest. This band is described with 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 K. K. Downing and Ian Hill. They have known each other since childhood because they live close to one another and they attended on the same nursery and school in West Bromwich. When they reach their early teens, they shared the same interest, music. The heavy metal band was formed in 1969 together 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 was named after a local ensemble.

After a while, Atkins left the band because he thinks that the band is going nowhere. He was replaced by Rob Halford, Hill’s brother-in-law, and brought a new drummer John Hinch from their previous band. In 1974, the band also added a new guitarist, Glen Tipton. The band signed a small record label and ended up getting poor sales from their first album Rocka Rolla. However, everything has changed when they released their second album Sad Wings of Destiny. The album did so well that the band received a record deal in Columbia Records in the U.S. The fame of Judas Priest continued after they released their next album Sin After Sin. The band stormed the U.S. and the U.K. hit charts until 1982. In the late 1980s, the band lost its touch in the U.K. but it is still popular in the U.S.

Judas Priest greatly influenced the new wave of British heavy metal since the late-mid 70s. MTV.com named the band as the second most important band in heavy metal, second to Black Sabbath. The formation of the band really affected some metal music. In fact, the band is also known for being revolutionaries in heavy metal fashion. Rob Halford began using a macho image on what is known today as hardcore metal or sometimes called as the biker look. The lead singer of the band started incorporating this new style as early as 1978 and the rest of the band followed his look. After a while, the fashion made by Judas Priest became a mainstay in heavy metal and several bands followed this style.

Although it is indisputable that Judas Priest is one of the most influential heavy metal bands of all time and indeed did much around the time of NWOBHM for me they started falling away after Point of Entry.

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

After that, Screaming for Vengeance was a bit too cheesy for my tastes and although Point of Entry has some good moments it has too many light ones. Mellow even. That was the end of classic Judas Priest for me and I never took to what followed – Halford’s departure and all that stuff – instead frequently revisiting the classics of their earlier years up to and including British Steel.

When Angel of Retribution was issued I bought it mainly out of curiosity and it’s not a bad alb um at all and proved they can still do it. Sad bit is that I went to see them on that tour in Manchester and they sucked. Really sucked. We left early even. Best part was most certainly seeing the Scorpions on the support slot (and afterwards when headlining).

Judas Priest do deserve their place as Metal Gods though for me you can’t beat the early stuff. Your ears will adore Sad Wings of Destiny, Stained Class, Sin After Sin as the template followed by many heavy/progressive bands to follow. Give your ears a treat and get them today.

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