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With high octane - we're spitting flames - 92%

Felix 1666, July 29th, 2016

Surprise, surprise, I am not the first dude who writes a review for "Defenders of the Faith". Moreover, guess I will not be the last one as well. Even 32 years after its publication, it seems as if the album still emanates an awe-inspiring, ultra-large fascination. The reason is plain. Judas Priest defined the formula of heavy metal made in 1984. To put it more precisely, Priest covered a wide spectrum that presented more or less all facets of contemporary metal. From the high-speed opener "Freewheel Burning" to the ballad "Night Comes Down", from the (partially) clinical "Love Bites" to the earthy "Some Heads Are Gonna Roll" and from the complex "The Sentinel" to the straight "Eat Me Alive", the pioneers dished up a varied menu. Neither beforehand nor later, the band reached such an outstanding form again. Even the groundbreaking "British Steel" is forced to lay down its arms, regardless of its immortal classics like "Rapid Fire" or "Breaking the Law".

I did not like the gay outfit of Halford, but I was able to ignore it successfully and well, to be honest, I never intended to marry him. So what! Instead of thinking about his sexual preferences, I just enjoyed his highly charismatic, sometimes almost lethally piercing vocals and the great music. The only number that did not fully meet my taste was, of course, the ballad. Nevertheless, its melancholic touch had its charm, too. Moreover, this song was not as commercial as "Living After Midnight" or "United", the overly polished and embarrassingly smooth good times rocker from "British Steel". Seen from this perspective, I appreciated "Night Comes Down" up to a certain degree. Anyway, the really mind-blowing tracks had other names. The ironclad, perfect production gilded the highlights - and there were a lot of outstanding songs.

Judas Priest demonstrated in a furious manner that they knew how to combine robust heaviness with the necessary amount of melody. Tracks like the prototypical, somewhat shady "Jawbreaker" did not lack of meticulously designed yet extremely lively parts and they also possessed some hymnal elements. Nevertheless, the fundament was built of pure steel. Speaking of hymnal sequences, the heavyweight "Rock Hard Ride Free" must be mentioned. In particular its suspenseful bridge with Halford's high-pitched screams and the ultra-effective chorus reflected the compositional talent of the formation. This down-to-earth song sounded like the epitome of heavy metal. Okay, I hear the visitors on the cheapest places of the metal arena screaming: the chorus is too simple. My dear blockheads, the best things in life are the simple things: a well-tempered drink, a kiss of your girlfriend (if one exists), some heavy music and so on. I know, the apostles of progress will never share this point of view. Come on guys, leave the arena and join the Dream Theatre while we are listening - among other things - to the overwhelming, thoroughly thought out solos of the here collected tunes.

As mentioned above, the production was second to none. It matched the musical content in any respect. Inter alia, it shared the music's diversity, at least to a certain extent. Some sterile beats ("Heavy Duty") and a lot of reverb ("Love Bites") stood in sharp contrast to the generic overall impression. However, all technical elements fit together magically and one could bang his head in an enthusiastic manner. The only danger was to lose one's self-control in view of fanatic crushers such as "Freewheel Burning". I do not want to know how many thrash and speed metal bands have been inspired by this metal storm. Each and every tone of the guitars hit the mark, Halford pulled out all the stops and the rhythm section acted flawlessly as well. The figurative lyrics ("Born to lead at breakneck speed, with high octane - we're spitting flames") put the cherry on the cake. I am sorry, I have no English word to describe this masterpiece. Back in Germany in 1984, we used terms like "ultraoberaffengeil", but that's another story.

Despite true classics like "Eat Me Alive" or "The Sentinel", "Freewheel Burning" was the Alpha and the title track the Omega of the defenders' alphabet. Hell yes, the title track with its minimalist length of 90 seconds was rather an outro and its entire lyrics came together in its title. And yet, it was an impressive, triumphant ending. Forgive us, we were young and clueless and we really believed that these guys were the defenders of our faith. Two years later, the band released "Turbo" - and my mates and I were totally disillusioned. Anyway, this is not the time to moan about one of the greatest disasters in the history of metal and the review deserves a more positive end. Plainly speaking, if you want to meet the spirit of natural heavy metal, you must get in touch with "Defenders of the Faith".