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British Cuisine - 42%

MacMoney, December 3rd, 2005

The album that launched Judas Priest into the minds of the masses. That is British Steel. It also started a string of Priest albums that were more or less written to be as catchy as they could. The albums until and including Ram It Down - perhaps even including Painkiller - were written in the same formula. Simple, mid-paced songs with catchy choruses and perhaps a ballad and a couple of faster songs to vary things a bit. This is perhaps a good way to appeal to the masses but as an piece of art, its merits are few.

The whole album suffers from being overtly pedestrian. Simplistic guitar patterns aiming for catchiness, formulaic songwriting and a mediocre performance by Halford lend this album no credentials to rise among the revered group of Sad Wings of Destiny and Stained Class. Plain heavy metal or hard rock do work in some contexts like say Motörhead, but Judas Priest don't manage to do that. British Steel isn't all bad though. Rapid Fire, the Exciter of the album, strives to break away from the mediocrity of the rest of the album and actually accomplishes this feat along with Steeler though the songs are rather similar with each other and their forefather. Both songs feature excellent lead play by Downing and Tipton as well as increased tempo compared to the clutter.

The lead work of the two guitarists is what saves the rest of the songs from being a total waste of time. Downing and Tipton may not be technical wizards, but they do know how to write leads. Not much else sets the mid-paced rockers apart from each other. I believe the album would have benefited from more variance in the tempo department. The production on British Steel is very fitting. It is as average and odorless as the rest of the album. Every instrument is clear, in its own space and nicely mixed together but that just adds to the albums lack of distinctiveness. The beginning of Judas Priest's descent into the world of non-flavor.