The mid-1980s was a golden time for metal. Lots of great legend status acts were putting out amazing albums that had headbangers excited beyond belief. One such band was Judas Priest, who by this time had put out eight mostly stellar albums were coming off their all-time great work Screaming For Vengeance (Columbia). At the height of their powers they took their gains made from the previous release, came back a little meaner and leaner and released Defenders of the Faith (Columbia) on January 4th 1984.
The band had really found themselves in a groove with their writing and recording process, and so once again they were off to Ibiza Sound Studios in Spain where many of their albums of this era were made. The due of Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing wrote a bunch of uptempo, pissed the hell off songs they were fantastic compliments to the previous discography’s anthems. With Rob Halford’s angelic wail and sometimes vicious snarl, the band churned out a tin of killer tracks. From the rocking ‘Freewheel Burning’, ‘Jawbreaker’, ‘Eat Me Alive’ these memorable Priest classics really set the tone to fierce for the entire album. Of course ‘Eat Me Alive’ would earn the band a slot on the Parents Music Resource Center’s “Filthy Fifteen” list.
Tracks like the classic sounding ‘Rock Hard Ride Free’ could have come out ten years prior. One of the most underrated songs in the bands’ catalog is ‘The Sentinel’, almost a heavy metal prog mashup. ‘Some Heads Are Gonna Roll’ is another contribution by occasional collaborator Bob Halligan Jr. who wrote for Kiss, B.O.C. and other bands in the 70s and 80s. He also wrote ‘Take These Chains’ the album prior. ‘Night Comes Down’ another solid riff fest that just grooves. Album closer ‘Heavy Duty’/’Defenders Of The Faith’ would be a live favorite for decades and really gets the crowd going to this day.
Defenders of the Faith has legions of fans from it’s many covers and other songs inspired by the album. When it comes to Priest really selling that metal fan ethos that continues to guide us today, this album is essential musically and even on a philosophical level. The 2015 remaster od the album is definitely worth a listen, boasting a great live set from Long Beach Arena in 1984. Certainly, it’s one of the deepest, and most worthy Judas Priest albums top to bottom! Let’s turn up the volume to eleven, grab our leather and spikes, and rock out to this masterpiece!
Rising from darkness where Hell hath no mercy and the screams for vengeance echo on forever. Only those who keep the faith shall escape the wrath of the Metallian… Master of all metal.