English heavy metal group Judas Priest was established in Birmingham in 1969. They often rank among the top metal bands of all time and have sold more over 50 million records. The band suffered with mediocre record production and a lack of significant commercial success until 1980, when they found financial success with the album British Steel, despite a body of inventive and pioneering work in the latter part of the 1970s.
The band’s lineup has seen a lot of change, including the resignation of lead singer Rob Halford in 1992 and a rotating cast of drummers throughout the 1970s. Before Halford rejoined the group in 2003, Tim “Ripper” Owens, previously of Winter’s Bane, replaced Halford in 1996 and worked on two albums with Judas Priest. Halford, guitarists Richie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton, bassist Ian Hill, and drummer Scott Travis make up the band’s current lineup. The group’s most commercially successful lineup included Hill, Halford, Tipton, guitarist K. K. Downing, and drummer Dave Holland on 1982’s Screaming for Vengeance, which also happens to be their best-selling album. The only two band members, Tipton and Hill, who feature on every record.
The dual guitar sound of Downing and Tipton and Halford’s operatic vocal delivery have had a significant impact on heavy metal bands. During the 1980s glam metal era, Judas Priest’s image of leather, spikes, and other prohibited apparel items had a significant impact. The record that “defines heavy metal,” according to The Guardian, is British Steel. Despite a dip in popularity in the middle of the 1990s, the band has recently experienced a comeback. They have gone on international tours, were the first inductees into the VH1 Rock Honors in 2006, won the Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 2010, and had their songs included in video games like Guitar Hero and the Rock Band series. Judas Priest was admitted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2022.
Rocka Rolla (1974)
In June and July 1974, Judas Priest entered the studio with Black Sabbath producer Rodger Bain. “Rocka Rolla,” the group’s debut single, was released. Various musical genres are represented on the album, including progressive rock, hard riffing, and pure rock.
Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)
The second studio album, titled Sad Wings of Destiny, was made available by Gull Records on March 23, 1976. Judas Priest’s sound and image are seen as having been established on this album, and tracks like “The Ripper” and “Victim of Changes” from it have subsequently come to be performed live as classics. Alan Moore, the band’s drummer, appeared on just that one record.
Sin After Sin (1977)
In April 1977, Sin After Sin debuted. It was the first Priest album released by a major label, CBS, and the first of eleven albums in a row to get a Gold or higher certification from the RIAA. Judas Priest hired Les Binks on Glover’s advice since Phillips rejected to join the group permanently.
Stained Class (1978)
The fourth studio album, Stained Class, was made available by Columbia Records on February 10th, 1978. The band’s now-famous logo initially appeared on this album, the first of three Judas Priest records to include drummer Les Binks. The album includes “Exciter,” which is regarded as an early example of speed metal and thrash metal, as well as a cover of Spooky Tooth’s “Better by You, Better than Me.” Several years after the song’s release, when two fans allegedly used it as inspiration for a suicide pact, the band received a lot of negative press.
Killing Machine (1978)
The fifth studio album, Killing Machine, was made available by Columbia Records on October 9th, 1978. While maintaining the gloomy lyrical themes of their earlier albums, the album moved the band in the direction of a more pop-oriented sound. The band members acquired their now-famous “leather-and-studs” fashion look around the same period, spurred on by Rob Halford’s fascination with leather culture. Les Binks, the band’s drummer, played on the group’s final studio record. Due to the controversy surrounding the massacre at Cleveland Elementary School, it was released in the United States with the alternative track listing Hell Bent for Leather.
British Steel (1980)
The band’s Killing Machine-era commercial sound was revived on British Steel. They let up some of the gloomy lyrical themes that were prevalent on their earlier albums this time, but some of them are still present. Rob Halford stated that the band may have drawn inspiration from AC/DC on several songs during a June 2017 episode on the Sirius radio program “Rolling Stone Music Now” after backing them on a European tour in 1979. After an unsuccessful attempt at Startling Studios, which is also situated on the grounds of Tittenhurst Park, since the band preferred Ringo Starr’s home to the actual recording studio, British Steel was finally recorded in December 1979 at Tittenhurst Park, the home of the former Beatle.
Point of Entry (1981)
Point of Entry, their seventh studio album, on February 27, 1981 on Columbia Records. Priest went in a more radio-friendly direction with their subsequent album Point of Entry (1981), building on the commercial success of their previous record British Steel (1980). The band started working on their next project after the British Steel Tour was over. The band had saved up enough money by this point to fly all of their gear to Spain’s cutting-edge Ibiza Studios. Point of Entry had a louder, stronger, and more “live” sound than earlier Judas Priest records as a result.
Screaming for Vengeance (1982)
The eighth studio album, Screaming for Vengeance, was made available by Columbia Records in July 1982. It is regarded as the band’s commercial breakthrough and has received platinum and double platinum certifications in the US and Canada, respectively. You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’, which became one of the band’s hallmark songs and a constant radio favorite, was the breakout smash from Screaming for Vengeance.
Defenders of the Faith (1984)
The ninth studio album, Defenders of the Faith, was made available by Columbia Records on January 13th, 1984. The songs “Freewheel Burning,” “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll,” and “Love Bites” were released from the album, which earned a platinum certification from the RIAA.
The ninth studio album, Turbo, was released by Columbia Records in April 1986. The band’s transition to a commercial glam metal style, which required them to use synthesizers for the first time, is significant for the album.
In 2001, a CD that had been remastered and two extra tracks was made available. For its 30th anniversary, the album was released on 3 February 2017 as Turbo 30, which included two CDs of a live performance at the Sandstone Amphitheater outside of Kansas City, Missouri, on May 22, 1986.
Ram It Down (1988)
The eleventh studio album, Ram It Down, was made available by Columbia Records on May 13, 1988. With the Mercenaries of Metal Tour, it received promotion throughout Europe and North America. It was the band’s final album to include veteran drummer Dave Holland. Two additional tracks were included when it was remixed and released in 2001.
The eleventh studio album, Painkiller, was released in September 1990. It was the first Judas Priest album to include drummer Scott Travis and the final to have longtime lead singer Rob Halford before his comeback for the 2005 album Angel of Retribution.
The thirteenth studio album is called Jugulator. On October 16, 1997, it was made available in Japan, and on October 28, 1997, it was made available worldwide. It was the first of two studio albums the band recorded without Rob Halford and with American lead singer Tim “Ripper” Owens after Painkiller in 1990.
Judas Priest, an English heavy metal band, released Demolition, their fourteenth studio album and their first in the decade of the 2000s. It is Tim “Ripper” Owens’ second and last studio album, and it includes his vocals. Being the only Judas Priest studio album with profanity in the tracks “Machine Man,” “Hell Is Home,” and “Metal Messiah,” it also has a Parental Advisory label on the album cover.
Angel of Retribution (2005)
The fifteenth studio album, Angel of Retribution, was released in 2005. Rob Halford makes his first appearance on an album for the group since 1990’s Painkiller. The album opened at No. 13, making it the fourth highest ranking Judas Priest album in the US, according to the Billboard 200. Roy Z, who also co-wrote the song “Deal with the Devil,” produced the album. It was named 2005’s Best Album by Metal Hammer.
The sixteenth studio album, Nostradamus, is a tribute to the author Nostradamus of the sixteenth century. The band’s first concept album, it is a double album. It was ultimately published on June 17, 2008, through Epic Records after first being scheduled for release in late 2006 but being delayed until 2007. With guitarist and founding member K. K. Downing leaving the band in April 2011, it is the final Judas Priest studio album to include the Painkiller-era lineup.
Redeemer of Souls (2014)
The seventeenth studio album, Redeemer of Souls, was made available in the US on July 8, 2014. Since founding guitarist K. K. Downing left the band in 2011 to be replaced by Richie Faulkner, this is their first album without him. Additionally, it’s Glenn Tipton’s final album production for the group.
The eighteenth studio album is called Firepower. It was the group’s first studio album since 1988’s Ram It Down to be produced by Tom Allom and the first one with Andy Sneap serving as co-producer, and it was released in 2018. For the songs “Lightning Strike,” “Spectre,” and “No Surrender,” music videos were created. There is a lyric video for “Never the Heroes.”