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The large, vibrantly colored metallic beast on this album's cover should serve as warning enough of the contents within. For every fast, dark, magnificently written classic on this album, there's a generic, uninspired, too shitty for mainstream success rocker to ruin the energy. Defenders of the Faith could have been unbelievable, but instead ends up being far too inconsistent to be considered a great album.
Darker and heavier than the last few albums, when DotF does right, it really fucking does right. The listener is immediately overwhelmed by the heavy metal fury of the album's masterpiece, "Freewheel Burning," and the old Priest nostalgia kicks in. Halford is amazing, the guitars are fast and heavy, the leadwork is phenomenal and the lyrics are cool as hell. And the album keeps up the pace for the next few songs. "Jawbreaker" has crushing dark overtones and magnificent Halford vocal melodies. "Rock Hard Ride Free" has some of the best overall guitarwork since Stained Class. "The Sentinel" is another absolute Priest classic, with all the elements of their best works. The only thing holding these songs back is the drumming, which does little more than keep the tempo for much of the album.
Then we get to "Love Bites," and the album never recovers. The mediocre drumming becomes so unbearably predictable that every song starts to suffer because of it. The lyrics start at bad and go to worse (the lame two-song outro) and even Halford can't make them work for the songs. The Tipton/Downing lead guitar combo becomes the only thing to look forward to, and the solos should never be the only redeemable parts of a song. "Love Bites" is the worst of the worst here, with "Heavy Duty" and the title track being just as boring.
And yet, the album is still worth getting, if only for the first four tracks. The inconsistency kind of ruins it as a whole, but those four tracks are untouchable. Priest's greatest this is not by a long shot.