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A Review of the Album "British Steel" by Judas Priest Released in 1980

Updated on March 13, 2021
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Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

The album cover shows a person holding steel in their fingers. The album lacks the heaviness and aggressive nature of their 1990 album Painkiller but Judas Priest was a different band back then.
The album cover shows a person holding steel in their fingers. The album lacks the heaviness and aggressive nature of their 1990 album Painkiller but Judas Priest was a different band back then.

Track listing for British Steel (The US version of the album has a slightly different track listing).

  1. Rapid Fire
  2. Metal Gods
  3. Breaking the Law
  4. Grinder
  5. United
  6. Living After Midnight
  7. You Don’t Have to Be Old to be Wise
  8. The Rage
  9. Steeler

What Is the Musical Style of British Steel?

British heavy metal band Judas Priest came out with their 6th full-length album called British Steel. The album was released on April 14, 1980 and it is the first album to have Dave Holland playing on the drums. By this time in their career, Judas Priest was entering their 3rd decade as a band and they would eventually establish themselves as one of the elite British heavy metal bands along with Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. British Steel features straight ahead hard rock. This is a style that Judas Priest would use for much of the 1980’s. In 2021 as I revisit this album, I find myself liking it more than I did even in 2016. The album's production is slightly improved over their previous album Stained Class but it still has that old hard rock kind of feel in it. The bass lines played by Ian Hill show more maturity and skill as the drumming is also quite solid. We could surmise that British Steel is an album that set the foundation for the band's sound in the decade.

British Steel Is a Decent Album and the Song Breaking the Law May be Its Strongest Moment

I remember receiving this album from my cousin as a present during the Christmas holidays a few years ago. British Steel is not the strongest album that Judas Priest would release in the 1980’s but it is a good one to listen to. The tracks Metal Gods, Breaking the Law, and The Rage are on the compilation album called Metal Works 73-93. Nonetheless, the album does have its better moments such as the song "Breaking the Law." The song has been covered by Swedish death metal band Arch Enemy on their 2015 studio album called War Eternal.

British Steel: a review and analysis of this 1980 album: the Songs Metal Gods & Breaking the Law

"Metal Gods" is a straight ahead rock song that has some chanting style vocals in it. "Breaking the Law" is one of the most famous songs of Judas Priest and it is about the drinking and partying kind of lifestyle. Just keep in mind what the dangers of drinking and driving are. It is about a person who has had a long day at work and he is tired and worn out. He unfortunately turns to drinking as a way to escape the stress that he has had in his working life.


"Living After Midnight"

How is the rest of the album British Steel?

"United" is about fighting for a cause that you really care about and when you are as determined as this, failure is not an option. "Living After Midnight" is another song about the partying lifestyle as a group of friends sit up until dawn rocking and partying. They seem to have so much fun that they don’t want to go to sleep. "The Rage" starts with some bass guitar play by bassist Ian Hill before the song turns into another hard rock style tune.

It is a Better Album Than Some May Give it Credit for

The strongest songs in British Steel are Breaking the Law, United, Grinder, Living After Midnight, and The Rage. British Steel is an album that defines a fine hard rock and party kind of album which also feels like it is entertaining in 2021. It is one of those very old albums but it has stood the the test of time. As it is said in the first song "Rapid Fire," Judas Priest is "pounding the world like a battering ram." What we hear on this album is only a fraction of what Judas Priest would show us.

"Breaking the Law"

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian

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