Without a doubt, Judas Priest is one of the most consistent and long-running Metal bands of all time. From their humble beginnings in the early 70's to their triumphant tour just last year, Priest has always churned out the fist-pumping, head-banging Heavy Metal (with the exception of the "Ripper" Owens years, which were not so great). I saw them with Heaven and Hell, Motorhead, and Testament last year, and Priest blew everyone away, hands down. Sure, Nostradamus was a clunker, but those fuckers brought it live, running through a vast array of hits from the last 35 years.
Though Priest has undoubtedly kept it real since day one, they have gone through several distinct phases, from the vaguely proggy hard rock heard on 1974's Rocka Rolla to the straight-up thrashin' of 1990's Painkiller. So today's question is this: Which incarnation of the Priest rules hardest?
I've split their career into four separate phases, encompassing three albums each. Every section contains three videos, two of which rule and one of which sucks (just to be fair). The "Ripper" years, Angel of Retribution, and Nostradamus have been omitted (for obvious reasons), but I want your opinion. WHO'S YOUR FAVORITE PRIEST?
1974-1977: QUASI-PROG/HARD ROCK PRIEST
Priest, in the beginning, was a very different animal from what they became a decade later. Songs were often moody or introspective, far from the distortion-drenched Metal juggernaut arenas full of Hessians were exposed to in the 80's. But their first three albums undeniably contain some of their finest work, hard rock anthems from a young band hungry for success. Plus, get a good look at Halford's haircut circa 1974. SWEET!
Albums: Rocka Rolla, 1974, Sad Wings Of Destiny, 1976 & Sin After Sin, 1977
"Rocka Rolla" (Fuck Yeah):
"The Ripper" (Video from 1982 but song from 1976 - Fuck yeah):
"Diamonds And Rust" (Recent video - ACOUSTIC?! Fuck no):
1978-1980: HARD ROCK PRIEST GOES METAL
Judas Priest began to find their footing in the late 70's, crafting a heavier sound that reached perfection on 1980's British Steel. These were the crossover years, as the guys morphed from a hard rock group into one of the most fundamental bands of the NWOBHM. Observe the differences between the two ruling videos below. "Better By You, Better Than Me" is the OLD Priest, full of rock 'n' roll swagger and mid-tempo thunder, while "Exciter" represents the FUTURE of the band, all speed and shredding. 1978 to 1980 Priest shows the best of both worlds.
Albums: Stained Class, 1978, Hell Bent For Leather, 1979 & British Steel, 1980
"Better By You, Better Than Me" (Fuck yeah):
"Exciter" (Fuck yeah - Nice pantsuit, Rob.):
"Living After Midnight" (Sweet video, lame song - Fuck no):
1981-1984: SUPER-POPULAR-LEATHER-DADDY PRIEST
After the brief mis-step that was Point of Entry, Priest invaded arenas around the world, finally reaching the massive commercial success they deserved. Without a doubt, they had left their cocoon, blossoming into the beautiful Metal butterflies we all know and love today. Though they weren't above penning a sappy ballad here and there, the early 80's found the blokes at the peak of their bombast and volume, with an enormous stage show and an even bigger reputation. These were also the years that Halford started riding a motorcycle onto the stage, if I'm not mistaken.
Albums: Point of Entry, 1981, Screaming For Vengeance, 1982 & Defenders of the Faith, 1984
"The Hellion/Electric Eye" (Amazing robot effects, man - Fuck yeah):
"Freewheel Burning" (Fuck yeah):
"(Take These) Chains" (Fuck no):
1986-1990: CRAPPY SYNTH PRIEST/AWESOME SHRED PRIEST
Priest fell into a rut with 1986's Turbo and 1988's Ram It Down, presenting a too-slick, synth laden package that didn't quite resonate with their hardcore fans. But there are still some great songs there, without a doubt. Salvation came in the form of 1990's Painkiller, a super-heavy, technical album that matched anything in their back catalog for heaviness and intensity. The late 80's up to 1990 were a time of extremes for The Priest, in which they bottomed out and then soared back to the top on the wings of their own musical integrity. Unfortunately, Painkiller was also the death knell of their glory days, with Halford quitting soon after (only to rejoin years later). But that's another story altogether.
Albums: Turbo, 1986, Ram It Down, 1988 & Painkiller, 1990
"Painkiller" (Fuck yeah):
"Nightcrawler" (Fuck yeah):
"Johnny B. Goode" (NO NO NO NO):
You guys make the call, it's too close for me. Cast your votes in the 'Comments' section.