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Ahh yes, "British Steel". One of the most well-acclaimed albums in the history of Heavy Metal, and one of the most well-known, with probably the two most well-known songs from Judas Priest, those being - of course - "Living After Midnight" and "Breaking The Law".
And while these two songs certainly do rock, the remaining material should not be overlooked in favor of them.
"British Steel" is pretty much what you’d expect from a metal album in the early 80s. This baby is chock-full of razor sharp, and for its time pretty damn heavy riffs, that are made especially awesome with that monstrous guitar tone. Guitar Gods Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing also deliver some godly guitar solos on this album, as always. I won’t even try to describe just how much they own, just listen for yourself - most notably the insanely catchy guitar solos of "Living After Midnight" and even more so "Grinder" - but most of all, the crazy section of dueling guitar solos between every vocal line there in the middle. One of the greatest, craziest moments on the album right there.
On top of this, we also have Ian Hill’s very groovy basswork, which stays in the background for the most part (only exception being the bass highlighting in The Rage) and just builds up a very solid backbone, along with the drumming of Dave Holland, who could kinda be considered the weak link in the line-up. His drumbeats are very standard and fairly predictable, but he maintains an underlying catchiness throughout and lashes out some damn nice fills every once in a while, and at the end of the day he gets the job done, even though the other band members play circles around him.
And finally, of course, the ever-changing vocal work of Rob Halford. On this one, he complements the music perfect by mostly keeping his voice in a mid-ranged tone, and fills it with a tough attitude and lots of energy. This guy sings with so much inspiration and power, which is the main reason why I regard him as my favourite vocalist of all time, no doubt about it.
The songwriting on here is catchy, hard-hitting and memorable, relying on a couple of 3-5 riffs in each song, each one more catchy than the previous, and as already mentioned, for its time this is pretty damn heavy. Just listen to stuff like "Grinder", especially the crushing slowed down middle section. Or how ‘bout the total speed metal frenzy of "Rapid Fire"? Yeah, this is just brilliant stuff all through.
There’s the anthemic "United", a very catchy song with a groovy midpaced beat and a wicked memorable sing-along chorus. Then we have the brilliantly titled "You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise", which is often overlooked, sadly. Catchy as hell, especially with that main guitar melody and the great lyrics. And let’s not forget "The Rage", a more experimental and very interesting tune, featuring the previously mentioned bass highlighting, and an overall great mood. And of course the classics. "Breaking The Law", with one of the most well known main riffs in metal history, along with the likes of "Smoke On The Water". The song kicks ass all through, though it does get a million times better in live environment. Same thing with "Living After Midnight"- the big chorus was written to be played live, undoubtedly. But even in the studio, the song kills. Full of energy and attitude, incredibly catchy, and let’s not forget the solo! Short, but oh man, it’s so effective.
But really, the best of the bunch here is "Grinder". The riffs, the vocals, and the fucking solo! Yes, when played right, a guitar solo can make a song many times better than it already is. With "Grinder", this is the case- and even without the solo, it owns so fucking much that I cannot even start to describe!
I'll just sing along and bang my head instead.
Close after "Grinder" comes "Rapid Fire" as my second favourite on here, though it took me quite some time to really appreciate it - but the crazy riffs and middle section along with the powerful lyrics and vocal delivery, it all makes up for another masterpiece.
Finally we also have "Steeler", which is slightly less interesting than the other stuff, and is really “just” good, while the other stuff is all fucking great. Yes, this album is one of the most essential albums ever, and while not nearly the best Judas Priest album, it’s definitely the most classic.