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The 1980's began with epic proportions for Judas Priest, after riding high with their grandiose material in the '70's, they began to make albums with a more streamlined writing style and approach. This was no more evident than the first three albums of the 80's, Point Of Entry was bookend by two metal masterpieces, British Steel and Screaming For Vengeance, and therefore tends to get overlooked. But in 1984 Judas Priest defied all the odds and did something they never again did in their long and lustrous career: Follow-up a masterpiece with one another one. The album is Defenders Of The Faith, which may not be as popular as British or Screaming, but it just as influential and powerful as the two.
Freewheel Burning starts off the album with unprecedented aggression that sets the tone for the rest of the album, pure speed metal at it's finest and heaviest to date. Complete with energetic leads, memorable lyrics delivered in a profound approach and underlining melody. A brilliant solo, which is interlinked through numerous drum fills. I also would not be wrong if I said the bridge section before and immediately after the chorus helped inspire many primitive hip-hop artists, with it's rapping approach. There is nothing wrong with this song and is a perfect opener for the album, complete with Priest's most awesome videos. The ending scream is signature Rob Halford and gives this song a splendid climax.
Jawbreaker continues in the same vein as the opener, powerful and poetic. Rather the lyrics are about fellatio or a mechanic beast like depicted on the cover, they are still very cool. The verses head bang with authority and have a strong sense of phrasing, a great example of Priest style story-telling. K.K's solo here is a very fine one, built on passion and melody and is highly influential. Perfect screams end this track in fine style. Rock Hard, Ride Free follows and brings the pace down to considerable tempos, with the true highlight being the twin axe-attack. There is not much to say about this song expect the fact that it is better than the demo version available on the Killing Machine Re-Master. The two minute guitar solo in the middle is a great example of Glenn and K.K's skill.
The Sentinel comes next and ranks as one of Priest's best. From the evil sounding intro to the brutal main riff, this is one of Priest's finest examples of true talent shining through. A perfect balance starts with the verses which depict an unidentified villain who's known for his stand-offs which he always wins. The middle section, which is only spoken, gives this song an epic feel and is the second best on the album, but also features the albums best chorus. One that builds and builds and gets higher and higher with every repeat.
Love Bites is another fantasy song about a vampire who comes to...well you know what vampires do. It's a very dark song, which shows how important Ian Hill really is, even when he is not heard. But he is heard here and like The Rage from British Steel is the main highlight of the song. Eat Me Alive follows and is perhaps the fastest and heaviest song on the album with more awesome lyrics about sex, which this time is blatantly obvious. The trade-off solo is also the best on the album and is sure to deliver every carnal(pun intended) desire. Some Heads Are Gonna Roll is a track that would've been a waste had it not been for Rob's high-pitched vocals. The song is mid-pace and is quite the burner, which is a change of pace. It's not a bad song but is not as memorable as the previous or the next. The ending is the best part and comes to full strength in live performance.
Night Comes Down comes next and is easily the best song on the album. It's dark, morbid, heavy and depressing. It's not "I am going to kill myself because my life sucks" or "I am sad because my love left me", it's actually quite evasive. The song is extremely emotional and is bound to bring tears to your eyes, but not because of the lyrics but the way their sung and the subtleness to heaviness in the music. The solo is breathtaking and the ending is pure greatness, that only Priest can deliver, sending you to another dimension. One of the most underrated songs by the band.
Heavy Duty/Defenders Of The Faith is really one track and is meant to be that way, a great sing-along song to close out a rather awesome album. The lyrics and music are raunchy and highly inspired, despite their simplicity, with the last minute or so being the albums namesake being repeated over and over.
Turn On Your Light is the studio bonus track and is one of the best of them, a highly emotional ballad that was recorded by Glenn and Rob one night, in one take, and captures the sentiments and emotions of the song beautifully. Glenn added the middle and end lead at a later date. While the other bonus track is just a live version of Heavy Duty/Defenders Of The Faith, which hardly sounds live at all.
Overall a great album and one of my personal favorites by the band. Pure solid Judas Priest, enjoyable for any metal head or casual music lover, with tons of styles covered and done to perfection.