Released: 1980, Sony Music
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
This week’s announcement of the reunion of Judas Priest with vocalist Rob Halford inspired me to review the album that put them on the map in North America, BRITISH STEEL. Along with Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and Saxon, Judas Priest ushered in the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” movement that swept through the music industry at the beginning of the 1980s. Even though the band had released 6 albums prior, BRITISH STEEL made Judas Priest—plain and simple. It is one of their best (next to 1984’s DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH) and still sounds fresh 23 years later.
BRITISH STEEL contains the Priest staples “Breaking The Law”, “Metal Gods” and “Living After Midnight” which are all still played in the band’s live set. Not much can be said of these songs—they are heavy metal anthems. For the Priest die-hard, “Grinder”, “Rapid Fire”, “United” and “The Rage” are also found here. “Grinder” and “Rapid Fire” are incredible songs that are some of the heaviest the band had done up to this point. “The Rage” has a slow groove with a simple bass line that opens the track. The only songs that don’t really measure up are “Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise” and “Steeler”, but 7 out of 9 ain’t bad!!
Even the simple cover featuring an outstretched hand holding a razorblade emblazoned with the legendary band logo on it, is a classic. BRITISH STEEL is one of the albums that any aspiring metalhead MUST have in their collection.
On a side note, VH1 recently produced an entry in their “Classic Albums” series which features BRITISH STEEL. I highly recommend seeing this because they go through the album track by track with the band and producer Tom Allom explaining how and why it sounds as it does. Very interesting stuff!!