The Best and Worst of Judas Priest (part 3)

Judas Priest L-R: Glenn Tipton (gtr), Richie Faulkner (gtr), Rob Halford (vox), Scott Travis (dr), Ian Hill (bass)
Judas Priest L-R: Glenn Tipton (gtr), Richie Faulkner (gtr), Rob Halford (vox), Scott Travis (dr), Ian Hill (bass)

Part 3: The Rest...

Hello and welcome back to our in-depth exploration of the Judas Priest catalog, in honor of the legendary band's world-spanning "Epitaph" farewell tour and forthcoming new (final?) studio album, Redeemer of Souls (due in July 2014). In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we examined the albums that we termed "The Essential Priest" and "The Wild Cards," and now we will finish off our investigation with the ones that remain...

For Diehards Only:

ANGEL OF RETRIBUTION (Sony/BMG, 2005) When Judas Priest announced their reunion with Rob Halford in 2004, all was suddenly right with the world. Tim "Ripper" Owens was quickly given his walking papers and the real Judas Priest went back into the studio to create their first album together in fifteen years. The result, ANGEL OF RETRIBUTION, while not a bad record by any stretch, seems a bit "safe" to me, as if the band were just cranking out what was expected of them. "Judas Rising," "Deal With the Devil," and "Wheels of Fire" are most definitely air guitar worthy, but on the down side, the 13 minute "Loch Ness" may be the single dullest Priest song ever recorded.

TURBO (CBS/Sony, 1986) Pop Metal was all the rage in the U.S. at the time and unbelievably, Judas Priest prettied up their hair-do's, plugged into guitar synthesizers and jumped right into the Aqua-Net pool with both feet on this album. Longtime fans were absolutely horrified, of course, but TURBO unexpectedly brought a whole new crowd of listeners to the Priest cause. As I mentioned in my first entry in this series, the TURBO tour was my first ever concert so even though the album has aged about as well as a carton of milk on a hot driveway, I loved it at the time and it remains a sentimental favorite to this day. Despite the heavy layer of pop-metal cheez, "Turbo Lover" is still an awesomely catchy track, and "Out in the Cold" should still be in their set list today. As for the rest...well, I'm going to plead the Fifth.

NOSTRADAMUS (Sony/BMG, 2008) After the somewhat-safe ANGEL OF RETRIBUTION reunion album, Priest did something totally unexpected: a double concept album about the famed Medieval soothsayer. The reaction from much of the Priest faithful: "Uhhh...what?" Seriously, there are a few bits & pieces on NOSTRADAMUS that are listenable but it's simply too bloated, too self-important, and overall, too dull to take seriously. I will give the band grudging props for daring to jump off the deep end and take on a project so far from their comfort zone (how many other bands with a 30+ year history would do such a thing?) but I'm in no hurry to ever listen to this one again.

REDEEMER OF SOULS (Sony, 2014) The newest addition to the Priest canon, 2014's Redeemer of Souls, thankfully leaves behind the rock-opera aspirations of the preceding Nostradamus and gets back to the straight up, no frills heavy metal that has been the band's meat and potatoes for more than twenty years. Like 2005's Angel of Retribution, it's a fairly "safe" record that should please the diehards but probably won't make them any new fans. It's simply nice to know there still is a Judas Priest in 2014 and they're still capable of kicking your ass up and down the block!

The Bottom...

DEMOLITION (Atlantic, 2001) Well, something has to rank at the bottom of the Priest pile, and this ill-fated second (and final) disc with Tim Owens on vocals earned that dubious position very easily. Mind you, I'm not an Owens hater by any means -- I liked JUGULATOR just fine -- but after an inexplicable four-year wait for a new album, DEMOLITION's schizophrenic mix of old school Priest ("Machine Man" and "Bloodsuckers") late 90's aggro-rock ("Subterfuge," "Cyberface"), and for one shameful moment, even rap-rock ("Metal Messiah") tried to appeal to every crowd at the same time, and ended up pleasing no one. Unsurprisingly, the album went over about as well as a loud fart in a quiet church, and soon the band was reaching over to Camp Halford in the hopes of mending fences. Up until this album was released, I'd long considered TURBO to be Priest's worst album, but as soon as I heard DEMOLITION I was heard to announce "We have a new champion!" Seriously folks, this one is for hardcore Priest completists only. Ugh. No wonder this one is long out of print.

The METALOGY box set includes 4 CDs spanning the band's entire career and a live DVD shot during the 1982-83 SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE tour.
The METALOGY box set includes 4 CDs spanning the band's entire career and a live DVD shot during the 1982-83 SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE tour.

Wait! That's not quite all!

That just about wraps up our guided tour of the Judas Priest discography, but at least we can expect one more studio album from the boys before they hang up their leathers for good. (Mainly because I'd hate for the sub-par NOSTRADAMUS to be their final recorded output!) After that, I can only tip my (studded leather) cap to Judas Priest and say "Thank you" for such great music, such an amazing career and a ton of memories.

If you've already collected all of the albums that were mentioned in these three entries and you still want more Judas Priest, you can always pick up one of their numerous live albums (PRIEST...LIVE!, '98 LIVE MELTDOWN, LIVE IN LONDON, or A TOUCH OF EVIL...LIVE), greatest-hits compilations (the massive, four-CD/one-DVD METALOGY box set is obviously the most comprehensive, but the 2-disc METALWORKS 73-93 is a fine, affordable substitute) or videos/DVD's (ELECTRIC EYE, RISING IN THE EAST). Take it from someone who knows, it just takes one Judas Priest album to set you off on a lifetime of metal mania. Thank you for reading and I hope you all enjoyed this trip through Judas Priest's past, present and (hopefully?) future!!

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Comments 24 comments

Manny 5 years ago

Excellent job, love your writing and like you I await the next Judas priest album


Wayne 5 years ago

Good stuff! I might have to disagree with Nostradameus though. It is way off from what you would expect them to do, but if you listen to it all the way through it is a pretty good album. It's not something that you give to a new listener to check out first but I would definetly throw in a song or 2 on a comp or something.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 5 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanks fellers... Wayne, I just never was able to get whole hog into NOSTRADAMUS... it's got a few choice bits here and there but as a whole it's pretty "Zzzzzzzzz."


chris 5 years ago

Nice overview of Judas Priest's albums. I pretty much agree with your rankings of Essential, Overlooked, and For Die-Hards only, except like Wayne I also enjoyed Nostradamus quite a bit!

DCA (from badmovies.org)


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 5 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx Chris!


Steve Orion profile image

Steve Orion 5 years ago from Tampa, Florida

I'll be waiting for their next album, as well! I thought Angel of Retribution was decent, but Nostradamus was an hour too long. Good Hub, do a review on their next album, when it comes out, and we'll compare thoughts =)


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 5 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx Steve - I will definitely be reviewing the new Priest whenever it appears. Once a fanboy, always a fanboy :)


Theocharis V profile image

Theocharis V 4 years ago from Piraeus, Greece

I really hated Turbo! good hub! voting this up


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Hi Theo! Yeah, most people hate TURBO... for me it's more of a sentimental thing, since that tour was my first concert. It's certainly not something I throw into the player very often these days. Thanx for stopping by.


boobsalot 4 years ago

Whatever priest does priest will do well no matter what! These guys in their 60s still kickin ass! Im happy they still rock like kids!!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Right on boobsalot!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

Updated


theomajor profile image

theomajor 2 years ago from New Zealand

Nostradamus is kind of as experimental as Queen, as classical as Symphony & Metallica and daring with the operatic "Pestilence And Plague". My wife personally hates "Death". To me this is Priest at their best. I love "The Essential Judas Priest" double disc compilation too but it leaves out some classics. Best songs; "The Ripper", "Turbo-lover", "The Green Manalishi", Diamonds & Rust", "Pestilence..."


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

Hi theomajor - I gave "Nostradamus" a fresh spin recently to see if it might finally grab me but aside from a few tracks I was still underwhelmed. Oh well, diff'rent strokes and all that. Thanks for the comment.


hotwebideas profile image

hotwebideas 2 years ago from New York

Another great hub on Judas Priest. Oddly enough, I actually like Demolition and hate Jugulator, but everyone is different. I was afraid that Demolition would be bad because of how much I hated Jugulator, but it turned out better in my opinion. It is amazing how different opinions can be within the Judas Priest fan community.

I thought Angel of Retribution rocked hard and really was not a safe album, because I thought it actually went back to the Judas Priest 80's/90's era of Screaming for Vengeance, Defenders Of The Faith, Ram It Down and Painkiller. If you listen to these 4 albums, "Angel" actually fits in with those in my opinion.

As for the Ripper Owen albums, I think Priest tried to go in a different direction where they were harder, but it just did not work since diehard Priest fans were into the British Steel to Turbo era.

As for Nostradamus, I think Judas Priest tried to do their version of The Who's Tommy or Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains The Same, but it just did not work for them. They tried. I give them that, but the problem is they pigeonholed themselves into the sound that made them famous where The Who never stuck with one sound, so people were used to The Who changing their sound, but it just did not work for Priest.

Most of the


hotwebideas profile image

hotwebideas 2 years ago from New York

In summary, my favorite priest albums are (not in any particular order):

Point Of Entry, Screaming for Vengeance, Angel of Retribution, Hell Bent For Leather, Unleashed In The East, Painkiller, Britist Steel, Defenders of the Faith, Sad Wings

My least favorite: Jugulator, Ram It Down (they tried with this), Nostradamus, Rocka Rolla

I am iffy with: Turbo, Stained Class, Demolition, Sin After Sin

One note mentioned in your other hubs is that I also love what they did with Diamonds and Rust live from Unleashed In The East.

Great job on this 3 part hub.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

Hey, hotwebideas - thanks for all the comments on my Priest hubs, always good to hear from another JP diehard.


hotwebideas profile image

hotwebideas 2 years ago from New York

Oh yeah, die hard Priest fan right here. I have all their albums and am looking forward to Redeemer of Souls in a few weeks.

Have you noticed that they went back to their old logo for the forthcoming album?


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

Yep, Redeemer of Souls is definitely a first-day purchase for me! Nice to see the return of the "classic" logo too.


hotwebideas profile image

hotwebideas 2 years ago from New York

Have you heard their NEW song "March of the Damned"? Looks like another song off the new album. It's pretty solid.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

I heard a sneak peek of a new track via YouTube a week or two ago, can't remember what it was called tho....


hotwebideas profile image

hotwebideas 2 years ago from New York

It is called "March Of The Damned".


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

That must've been it, I can't remember the name off the top of my head. I'll have to go back and look on YouTube again.


hotwebideas profile image

hotwebideas 2 years ago from New York

Two songs from the new Priest album seem to rock so far!

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