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ARTIST: Judas Priest
ALBUM: Defenders Of The Faith
SERIAL: FC 39219
CD REISSUE: 2001, Legacy, CK 85438
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Rob Halford - vocals * K.K Downing - guitars * Glenn Tipton - guitars * Ian Hill - bass * Dave Holland - drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Freewheel Burning * 02 Jawbreaker * 03 Rock Hard Ride Free * 04 The Sentinel * 05 Love Bites * 06 Eat Me Alive * 07 Some Heads Are Gonna Roll * 08 Night Comes Down * 09 Heavy Duty * 10 Defenders Of The Faith
The start to new years 1984 kicked off with the very early release of 'Defenders Of The Faith', perhaps the heaviest album the band had released up to that point in time. After the major success that was 'Screaming For Vengeance', Judas Priest headed off to Ibiza Spain once again to record DOTF with producer Tom Allom. The recipe was obviously working, as the band had recorded the last two albums in Ibiza. Recorded during the late summer months of 1983, 'Defenders Of The Faith' would return once again with The Metallian (on the cover) in tow for another bout of sonic mayhem. The songs on this album are a notch above what we heard previously in terms of the heaviness stakes, the band developing their sound to another level than before. The album is about three quarters very good, with the other quarter being so-so.
There are a few good songs onboard, and things get off to a rollicking start with the blistering 'Freewheel Burning', where all guns are ablaze. A definite scene-setter is this one. Things go from great to sublime with the amazing 'Jawbreaker', with twin guitars tearing up the soundscape laying the stage for Rob Halford to do what he does best. In fact, Halford's performance is the best I've heard him in a long while. That Spanish sun must've done his vocal chords a world of good! There's no let up with the totally anthemic 'Rock Hard Ride Free', a compulsory listen for all the biker brigade out there. Listening to this many years later you'd swear the JP boys have had a good listen to Def Leppard
's material to generate a chorus that good. Rob and the boys cut some merry capers on the super heavy 'The Sentinel', before settling into some foot-stomping metal in the shape of 'Love Bites'. The next track 'Eat Me Alive' is notorious for being selected at #3 on the PMRC's 'filthy fifteen' tracks of obscene songs as voted by Tipper Gore and her left-wing gal pals. Lyrically it's not one of their best tracks, so it was no surprise that the PMRC shoulder tapped them out of public courtesy, a situation that Priest would rectify to some extent on their 1986 'Turbo' album. 'Some Heads Are Gonna Roll' has similar traits to the material found on 'Screaming For Vengeance', and tries to riff out in a similar style to 'You've Got Another Thing Comin', but is probably a tad too heavy in comparison. 'Night Comes Down' is the band's slower moment on the album, though not lacking for power or intensity. It's a track I quite like, though I'm certain others aren't so fond of it. The final pairing of 'Heavy Duty' and 'Defenders Of The Faith' are total boot stompers in the vein of Queen
's 'We Will Rock You', though understandably much heavier. Many fans have derided the album on the basis of these last two songs alone, which is a bit silly really.
A great start, but the quality (I feel) sort of drops away toward the end of the album, and it would seem that the term 'consistency' would become a regular talking point on the subsequent albums that would follow. Still, 1984 was very much another strong anchor in the stormy sea of heavy metal set down by Judas Priest, and it would only be the picky and narrow minded who could see anything other than the greatness generated within the black vinyl grooves of 'Defenders Of The Faith' back in the day. Another JP review bites the dust on GLORY-DAZE!
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