All interviews conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: May 22, 2020
Birmingham, England, 1970. Metal magic was about to happen some 50 years ago...
Judas Priest does not need an introduction, especially not for us old-timers anyway. They have been one of those most important and trendsetting metal bands out there shaping the heavy metal scene as we know it. They are true innovators, inspiring, motivating and influencing countless other metal bands over the last five decades. Yes, you got that right, f-i-v-e decades, no kidding, folks! It obvious that without Priest's huge impact on the worldwide metal scene, it certainly would not be the same. It's hard to find a metalhead who doesn't own at least one of Priest's studio albums or one of several compilations albums that are easily found in any record shop around the globe.
50 years is a respectable milestone for any band. Only a few ever manage to travel the road this long. Judas Priest have had ups and down during their long-lasting career but have never thought of giving up and kept pushing forward with their heads high, firmly believing in what they have been doing all these years.
This is the reason why we here at the headquarters of The Metal Crypt decided to raise a toast to the band's long and respectable career, asking many musicians to send in their Priest-related stories to help celebrate the band's unbelievably long and amazing career. Hopefully, there will be more years to come for the mighty Priest. Fingers (and toes) crossed...
Special thanks to Tarja Virmakari of Alpha Omega Management and JP Higgins of JP's Starbreakers for their help.
Thanks to every individual involved who joined the party to celebrate Priest's 50th anniversary.
Luxi: When was the first time when you heard a Judas Priest song/album? What kind of reaction did you have?
Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): Judas Priest was among the first heavy metal bands that I ever heard. When I was growing up, all the kids were listening to metal and hard rock. And by kids, I literally mean children. I think I was about 5 or 6 years old when I started recording metal albums on cassettes. I'm pretty sure that the first time that I heard Judas Priest was when my nanny gave me a collection LP titled Axe Attack II (1981), which featured some of the biggest names in heavy metal. Judas Priest's track "United" from British Steel (1980) was on it. I instantly fell in love with Halford's vocals and the whole band package. I've been a fan ever since. The track just stood out, even though it represents the softer side of Priest. I was about six or seven at that time.
Matt Ries (TRAVELER): I believe I was around 14. I was at a used CD store and saw Painkiller. Around this time, I was just discovering the biggest names in metal and hearing this album at that age was like having a building collapse on my head. It kicked my fucking ass! The further back I dug into the catalogue, the more I loved them.
Tony Dolan (VENOM INC.): I first heard Judas Priest (or saw and heard them) on an old British TV show called The Old Grey Whistle Test doing the track "Rocka Rolla" but kind of forgot about them until a friend's brother had Stained Class and I heard the song "Exciter". That blew me away and my journey as a Priest fan started.
Al Ravage (RAVAGE): I was about nine years old when I found an old, demagnetized cassette copy of Defenders of the Faith literally in the gutter of the street near where I grew up. I took it home and tried listening to it and as the beginning of "Freewheel Burning" started, I remember thinking that the vocals on it could not possibly be human. They sounded like some kind of weird alien or shrieking demon from hell. It was impossible to hear the whole thing because the tape was in such bad shape that it cut in and out. Later I heard "Breakin the Law" on Beavis and Butthead before picking up a bunch of old Priest vinyl at a flea market.
Pekka Montin (JUDAS RISING): I first heard Judas Priest when I was 20 years old. We also covered Judas Priest at that time with my band named Mr. Crowley. For me, the best album from the band has always been Screaming for Vengeance because of its energy and diversity. Later in the 2010s, we founded the Judas Priest tribute band in Pori, Judas Rising, who played gigs, f.ex., at the after party of the Tuska festival.
Listening to the music of Judas Priest makes me want to put on a leather outfit and set out to conquer the world!
Anders Odden (CADAVER): It was 1984 and the song was "Freewheel Burning". I saw the video at a friend's place and was blown away by the spikes, the look, the sound and guitars and the screams. I knew heavy metal was for me and I never looked back.
Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): If I'm not mistaken, I bought the Hell Bent for Leather album (titled Killing Machine in the UK) shortly after its release as part of discovering metal as a whole. I already had Black Sabbath's Greatest Hits, so this was the next logical step. I was around 14 years old.
I was blown away by the heaviness. I had never heard anything that intense before.
Jeff Becerra (POSSESSED): I'll have to think way back for that, but I remember I was very young. It had to be either Sin After Sin or Unleashed in the East. This had to have been the late '70s. Back then I hung around with the rocker kids and we were already starting our first band (Marauder/Blizzard) playing cover songs. We played "Green Manalishi" as part of our set and I can still remember it feeling so bad ass. My sister got us our very first gig playing a kegger party at one of the older kid's house parties and we got our first crowd reaction. Keep in mind we were like 12 years old. I can still remember that feeling and how I was immediately hooked on being in a band and playing live music.
Liv Jagrell (LIV SIN): My dad had an early early album with Priest that I started to listen to when I was a teenager, but back then I was only into heavier stuff like Slayer and Pantera so I wasn't convinced. But when I heard Painkiller, I changed my mind.
Diego M. (VOLTAX): Probably when I was around 9 or 10 years old, my older brother was blasting "Electric Eye" through his speakers, and I think the combination of the chorus, with Halford's distinctive voice, plus the guitar melodies, had a huge impact on my understanding on heavy music. It was catchy but aggressive at the same time. It had hooks that made you want to sing along and play the song over and over again. It certainly was an explosion of energy.
Antti Heikkinen (SADISTIK FOREST): If I remember right, the first time I heard Judas Priest was sometime in the late eighties, when my cousin loaned me a cassette that had the Turbo album recorded on the other side of it. So the first song I heard from them was naturally "Turbo Lover". I remember liking the album because it had the overall eighties feeling to it and catchy choruses, but I don't remember much more. For being the first album I heard, Turbo has always had a very special place in my heart, but in the end it was actually Painkiller and the music video of the song "Painkiller" that really got me into Judas Priest. Everything in that one song was just so great, especially the drum solo in the beginning and Glen Tipton's absolutely awesome guitar lead were just amazing and out of this world! After that I started to collect their albums and listen to them more.
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST): I cannot remember what the first Judas Priest song I heard was or could it have been that I heard a song from Rob Halford's Fight first. Anyhow, this must have been around the early/mid-90s. What I do remember clearly was the moment I bought my first ever Judas Priest album! It was Hell Bent for Leather, the record that caught my attention in the record store. The cover art made me super curious as it was somehow so very metal! Back in those days I used to go and hunt the middle-priced albums from 80s and 70s and was a regular buying Rainbow, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Kiss, Uriah Heep and Deep Purple, for example. These were the bands (along with thrash metal and punk rock) that molded my musical genome. After taking the Hell Bent for Leather album home, it quickly became a frequent listen. Songs like "Evening Star", "Hell Bent for Leather" and especially "Killing Machine" became some of my very favorites in my record collection at the time. Even though the sound was already a bit dated, it had a certain charm to it. As I was never a fan of the '80s "stadium sound" or hair metal, the "less fancy" 70s sound was always superior to my ears. At least when compared to the horrors of Ratt, Def Leppard, Poison and Mötley Crüe...
Hampus Klang (BULLET): I guess it was a friend in school that played Priest for me. I remember thinking this band had everything! I must buy all their albums... and so I did!
Andrea Franceschi (SILVERBONES): I remember listening to Judas Priest the first time when I was around 15 years old and I was blasted by their sound and especially by Halford's powerful voice. I honestly don't remember exactly which song it was, but I can tell it was from the Defenders of the Faith album, which had quite an impact on me.
Mark Ruffneck (OZ): In the beginning, my band OZ was a local cover band and we were looking for songs to play on stage and somehow, we got the Judas Priest live album Unleashed in the East. This was my first contact with Judas Priest's music. We chose a song to play on stage with OZ from that album; "Victim of Changes". I think we also listened to some Judas Priest studio albums (Killing Machine, Sin after Sin), but we never got hooked on any songs from those albums.
Allan Johnson (EXCITER): Back in the late '70s early 80s I would go over to the Beehler residence where Dan Beehler's brother Richard had the most awesome record collection and was up on all the latest in rock and metal. He had the typical bedroom like all the rest of us, band posters wallpapered completely and stacks of records. This is where I first heard the early Judas Priest albums that we fell in love with immediately.
Luxi: As the years went by, did they become your favorite band that you listened to almost daily?
Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): Priest was definitely one of my favorite bands for a long time for sure, and I still dig them tremendously. When Turbo (1986) came out, I bought it on vinyl and listened to it constantly. I thought that especially side A of that record was pretty much the best piece of music ever written. I was a huge fan of KISS, W.A.S.P., Twisted Sister, Accept, Hanoi Rocks, Mötley Crüe, Iron Maiden and Scorpions, but the A side of Turbo just blew me away. I know it's a heretic's choice, but it's still my number one Priest album.
Matt Ries (TRAVELER): 100% yes. It's like opening a can of Pringles. It's impossible not to get immediately hooked for life.
Tony Dolan (VENOM INC.): I never thought about that too much, all I knew was they WERE heavy metal in every way; a perfect fusion of dual guitars and that voice with their perfect pounding rhythm. I guess they just WERE part of my everyday existence.
Al Ravage (RAVAGE): By the time I picked up my first Priest vinyl, which I think was Unleashed in the East and heard the song "Painkiller" on a compilation CD it was all over. It was Priest every day.
Pekka Montin (JUDAS RISING): Yes. I have covered quite a lot of Priest's music at gigs over the years. The band I founded myself is called Judas Avenger, which is not a Priest cover band but makes its own music.
For me, Judas Priest are one of the most important and innovative bands in the metal world. They dare to take risks.
Anders Odden (CADAVER): They were always one of the bands I would listen to, but I went more extreme in 1985 and sold my soul to black and death metal. Priest is one of those bands I always go back to, though. Their latest LP was stunning and gave all of us hope that we can do this until we die.
Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): Definitely! Back then there wasn't a lot out there, so their style and image (once they went "leather") at that time was fairly revolutionary and extreme. Along with Iron Maiden and Motörhead, they were definitely vital and required listening.
Jeff Becerra (POSSESSED): Definitely. I loved Priest from the first time I heard them. They had a heavier image than most other bands and wore spikes and leather and had that metal as hell image. Of course, we went out and bought all the spiked wristbands and gauntlets and wore leather jackets, too. Rob Halford's vocals were/are amazing and Glen and K.K.'s guitars made them one of my favorite bands. I had a Priest section in my tape case which was in constant rotation while hanging out with my friends, and at parties or wherever.
Liv Jagrell (LIV SIN): Yes, from time to time they are and were. Also, Halford's solo record was something that I could listen to over and over again.
Diego M. (VOLTAX): Yes, I did fall in love right away with their sound while discovering more songs from them. I also started to meet people that shared the same appreciation for Priest's music. It was back then when I started to recognize them as one of my favorite bands not just of the genre but also of music in general. They definitely have a key role of my life's soundtrack.
Antti Heikkinen (SADISTIK FOREST): Over the years there have been many time periods when I've listened only to Judas Priest, but I think they never really have become my most favorite band. However, it's always good to know there's a band that you can turn to, when everything else sounds or feels like shit... Hahah!
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST): That certainly did happen! After Hell Bent for Leather, I quickly got myself copies of Painkiller, Sad Wings of Destiny and British Steel. I Loved all of them and still today listen to them 90% of the times from start to finish, without skipping a single song. You've got to remember that, due to my age I was a music enthusiast in the times Rob had left the band and was making music with Fight. When the Tim "Ripper" Owens albums arrived, I did not understand the universal loathing they got for no reason. Jugulator is a mean, lean, killing machine! Heavy mauler and I still listen frequently. To me, it was Jugulator that really defined the greatness of Judas Priest. Despite the odds and a position of an underdog metal act (you have got to remember, in 1997 heavy metal was at an all-time low in popularity and people who listened to Priest, Manowar and Dio for example were ridiculed at school by both Korn posers in their baggy trousers and mainstream Brit pop/euro dance listeners alike!) they kept going and delivered potent metal records. Carrying the torch, they were. Every joke about "outdated metal sound" made me more and more proud of the fact that there were bands like Judas Priest around, who do not care about the popular consensus and do only what they feel is right.
Hampus Klang (BULLET): Yes, of course! We lived most of the time in our rehearsal room that didn't have a water or a toilet, but we watched the Metal Works VHS tape more or less every day. Great videos, especially the 77-84 era.
Andrea Franceschi (SILVERBONES): I definitely consider Judas Priest one of the metal bands I like the most, although they're not my favourite one. They are always a big source of inspiration when I make music for my band Silverbones.
Mark Ruffneck (OZ): Judas Priest, along with Accept, was a band that I listened to quite a lot in the mid-80s, but I also listened to many other bands, so I can't say that there was any most favorite band.
Allan Johnson (EXCITER): As the NWOBHM hit, it was apparent that my daily rotation of music was Priest and Maiden with Priest #1 over every other band at that time. I literally wore out my Unleashed in the East album. We named Exciter after their song, which says it all right there.
Luxi: When you saw the band live for the first time, what blew your mind the most?
Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): As far as I remember, I've only seen them live once. It was in June 2011 at Sauna Open Air, Tampere, Finland, right after KK Downing had stepped down from the band. I was impressed by the tightness of their playing as well as the stage props, including Halford riding a Harley. I wish I had seen them during the Painkiller (1990) era, but they delivered the set like the gods that they are.
Matt Ries (TRAVELER): I think my face and throat hurt more than my neck, haha. I was screaming every word and couldn't stop smiling. I still feel that way when I get a chance to see them.
Tony Dolan (VENOM INC.): Well I saw them on the British Steel album tour the first time with Iron Maiden (Paul Di' Anno version) in support and they were simply magnificent... all you could want and all you imagined from a Judas Priest show... magically harmonious with a heavy wall of force topped off by the harmonious range of guitar parts and Rob's voice... simply unbeatable, heavy glorious metal!
Al Ravage (RAVAGE): Well the first time I saw them was with Ripper on the Demolition tour. Ripper was an amazing talent. But then seeing Halford solo and eventually seeing Halford get back together with Priest was amazing.
Pekka Montin (JUDAS RISING): I never wanted to see the band live because I wished I could have seen them in the '80s. However, I was too young at the time. Unfortunately, their current lineup does not interest me.
Anders Odden (CADAVER): I do not remember when I first saw them live. It was very late - but their whole thing is such a blueprint for everyone else it's unbeatable in the pure heavy metal world in my book.
Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): It is hard to remember details from the early '80s naturally, but it would've been the intense combination of the killer tunes (always faster and heavier live like anyone) and the great stage show with Rob riding out on the Harley and all the leather and spikes. They put on an amazing show, especially to my 16-year-old self, and helped put me on the road I still walk today.
Jeff Becerra (POSSESSED): I believe my first Judas Priest concert was around 1984 at the Cow Palace in Daily City. Priest was incredible and gave me the chills. In my opinion, Judas Priest is one of the greatest metal bands of all time. Priest early on set the benchmark which I compared all other metal bands to.
Liv Jagrell (LIV SIN): Halford came in on his motorcycle on stage at Sweden Rock Festival, and yes that was quite an entrance so to speak. Great show, great band, great festival.
Diego M. (VOLTAX): Experiencing their songs live was something surreal at first, everything turned louder and bigger in such a perfect way. It did give me a certain sense of being in front of a real heavy metal machine. It turned me into an even bigger fan after that first time.
Antti Heikkinen (SADISTIK FOREST): The first time I saw Judas Priest live was in Tampere Ice Hall on their "Angel of Retribution" tour in 2005 and I think I actually might still be in the process of gathering the pieces of my mind back together, because it's kind of hard to remember anything about the gig other than it was awesome, of course. Rob Halford had come back to the band, so the Priest was definitely back and everybody ready. Me and my friend drove there from the city of Jyväskylä and the gig was so great that the next day when driving back we actually had to turn back to Tampere and party there a couple of days more, because it would have been too harsh and unreal to go back to normal life again so soon... Hahah! I remember the set-list contained most of the songs I had waited to hear and the highlights for me then were "Hot Rockin'", "Touch of Evil" and "Turbo Lover". Since then I've seen Priest many times and they have always delivered. I'm very happy that they didn't stop touring in 2011.
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST): This did not happen until Rob had returned to the band and they had Angel of Retribution out. This was the time they played in Oulu, Finland. I'm not sure if the Ripper Owens version of Priest ever played in Finland, you know? Even though Rob's vocals were suffering a bit at that gig, it sure felt great to finally get to see one of the bands that had defined for me what heavy metal music was all about a decade earlier and despite being super challenging vocally, "Victim of Changes" was maybe the song that made the biggest impact.
Hampus Klang (BULLET): At Sweden Rock 2004 before the Angel of Retribution album. It was only hits, no fillers at all. Totally magic! Tipton and Downing did that synchronized headbanging thing. I got that rare 1982 heavy metal feeling out of it.
I saw Halford at KB in Malmö back in 2000. He didn't move at all during the first two songs but sang great.
I brought my old analog camera and took many pictures of Rob, after a while he pointed at me and said, "See you after the show!". The crowd laughed.
Andrea Franceschi (SILVERBONES): Our guitarist Kirill is actually the one who saw the band playing live Gods of Metal Fest here in Italy back in 2008. He said it was one hell of a festival, truly because it was a really hot summer and because the bands were awesome. He keeps great memories from Judas Priest's performance. They rocked him from start to finish and he couldn't have been more pleased.
Mark Ruffneck (OZ): I saw Judas Priest for the first time in the mid-1980s at Stockholm Ice Hall. The stage show and a lot of lights are exactly what I still remember from that show, but during that time a Judas Priest concert was a special event.
Allan Johnson (EXCITER): 1980 Syracuse, New York, we all went, the Beehler brothers, friends, relatives, we all got in a few cars and headed across the border from Canada. They were touring with Def Leppard and Scorpions, to this day it was the best show I've ever seen. When they hit the stage and into the first song, but you didn't see Halford you were instantly drawn in, where is he? You could hear him singing but when will he show up? Then he comes in on the motorcycle, totally blew me away! Later we went to their tour bus and Halford came to talk to us, we were star struck. When we told him we drove all the way from Canada he was then blown away and got all the members of the band to come to the front individually to talk to us and sign autographs.
Luxi: Have you ever had a chance to talk to one of the band members (either ex- or current)? Do you remember what you talked about?
Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): No, unfortunately I have not. I was shooting the Tampere show for a Finnish metal magazine, so I got to see the first three songs from the photo pit, which is, of course, right next to the stage. I did hang out with Aadolf Virtanen, the bass player of Diablo, at the backstage of the festival. He's the biggest Judas Priest fan in the world, and he was wearing Halford-style leather Gestapo cap, pilot sunglasses and Angel of Retribution t-shirt (see pic w/ Peter Baltes of Accept that I snapped). Does that count?
Matt Ries (TRAVELER): No interaction so far! But I really want the guys to hear our song "Starbreaker". It's an entirely different song but obviously a huge nod to Sin After Sin. My favorite album!
Tony Dolan (VENOM INC.): Personally no. I had opportunities but couldn't bring myself to speak. Although Mantas is a friend to K.K. now and we saw Rob at NAMM in LA one year where Mantas met and spoke and gave him a demo. I myself stayed far back lol. Hero worshipping, I guess. Only time I did meet and chat was with one of the guys was with Richie Faulkner after we played the Roxy on Sunset strip in LA. They were in town finishing the new album and I was in the Rainbow after our show and Richie had been at the Whisky a Go Go. We were introduced there and hung for a while drinking and he was a real great guy all around.
Al Ravage (RAVAGE): We sat next to Ian Hill at a restaurant after seeing them play a couple of years ago and he said, "Hey guys...!" That was about it.
Pekka Montin (JUDAS RISING): Unfortunately, not. It would be nice to shake Rob's hand, though!
Anders Odden (CADAVER): Oh yes. I met Rob Halford at Hellfest in France in '16 or '17 and he said, "nice to meet you again", which I never did, but hey, it's THE Metal God talking to you and anything he says is the law.
Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): I have never had the opportunity to talk to any members of the band. I've played festivals they've been on but never crossed paths with any of those dudes. Had this happened I suppose I would've just said "Thank you" for inspiring me.
Jeff Becerra (POSSESSED): Unfortunately, I never got the chance to actually speak to any of them, but I was lucky enough to open for them at Hellfest (2011?) and they blew my fucking mind. When Rob Halford started talking about possibly retiring, I remember it really affected me and was emotional as hell. I hope Priest never retires as they are too important. While their dressing room was right next to ours, unfortunately they never used it. But I was definitely hanging out hoping that they would show up. After a while it became obvious that they weren't going to use their dressing room so snuck in and ate some of their potato chips and thought, "Hell yeah, I'm eating Judas Priest's potato chips!" Lol!
Liv Jagrell (LIV SIN): My former band Sisters Sin got the chance to play in front of drummer Scott Travis a couple of years ago and we got to say hello to him, that was pretty dope!
Diego M. (VOLTAX): I wish I had but sadly it hasn't happened to me, unfortunately. :(
Antti Heikkinen (SADISTIK FOREST): No, I haven't. It would definitely be fun to meet them if possible, but I'm not really sure what I would say to them... Heh!
Hampus Klang (BULLET): Not really but I have a fun memory from the Wacken festival, I think it was 2012.
Bullet had played and we went to the big backstage tent for drinks and food. Outside the tent there was some really drunk people drinking heavily directly from the Jägermeister bottle. They were screaming at us, but we just ignored them and went inside. After some drinks Hell Hofer got into his worst mode so I had to leave the tent and sat on my own outside. After a while the alcoholics shouted at me again and this time, I had no better option than to join them. We were drinking heavily and had lots of laughs. A few hours later one of the guys said, "Judas Priest just started we must go on stage and see them and you can join me".
I just thought the guy was joking with me.
We passed all security, they just welcomed him without checking his pass. I thought this was really weird. Suddenly both of us were standing on stage like a meter from Ian Hill and Glenn Tipton while they were drinking beers between songs. Tipton's guitar tech must have been 100 years old. There was fire all over the stage and several firemen were there, too. Halford didn't sing a word during "Breaking the Law" 'cause the crowd took over.
Later I was told that the drunk man was the drummer from Böhse Onkelz. They had helped the festival in the early days. So kids! Don't be afraid to join drunken strangers!
On the way home, I slept on the floor of the bus, the day after we played for 8000 people in our hometown. Great times!
Andrea Franceschi (SILVERBONES): Unfortunately, the rest of us never had the same chance to see them live nor to have a talk with them, well, not yet at least... ;o)
Mark Ruffneck (OZ): Yes, I met Richie Faulkner in New York in 2013, the evening before I flew back to Stockholm. I was at a small underground pub and left almost before he came to the pub. We sat at the bar and I noticed who was sitting next to me. I didn't want to disturb him, so I didn't talk to him first. His friend and bodyguard started talking to me and my friend and we started drinking tequila and we asked if he would like to enjoy our company. He said yes, what a good idea and the tequila race was going on. We talked about how he got in touch with Judas Priest, why he was in New York, where he lived, and many other things I don't remember because we drank a lot of tequila that night.
It was a good ending to OZ's US tour. The last night in New York and the tequila race with Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner.
Allan Johnson (EXCITER): Other than the first time in the '80s there was the time en route to Sweden Rock festival at the airport where we were on the same flight as Priest.
I didn't even know it until I saw Halford. We were sitting at the gate and I saw him walking around. I elbowed Dan (Beehler) and said there's Halford, he's like "Holy fuck yeah!". We had to get a picture. So all three of us in the band nabbed Halford and got a pic, then he passed his phone to his guy and said "Take a pic for me Instacrack", apparently he really likes Instagram. After all that he says to us, "aren't we lucky to travel the world playing heavy metal" later he said, "Come to our dressing room for a beer at the show". Another one of my regrets in life, we as Canadians didn't dare bother the mighty Priest by trying to get into their backstage area. But we watched the show, one of the best Priest shows I've seen. Then again, I say that about every one of their shows.
When I posted this pic on Facebook a fan said, and it was so perfect "Wow that's too much heavy metal for one airplane".
Luxi: Could you tell us in your own words the secret of the band's longevity?
Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): Great songs, great musicians, one of the greatest voices in metal. They've kept their standards high their whole career. Most legends release below average records every once in a while, and play old classics exclusively at their shows, but not Priest. Even their very latest album Firepower (2018) was one of the best albums of its release year and most definitely the album of the year as far as classic heavy metal is concerned.
Matt Ries (TRAVELER): The songs! Timeless classics through and through. The consistency of all their albums just solidifies their place heavy metal history.
Tony Dolan (VENOM INC.): Secret? They are GREAT. It's simple, there's no one like Judas Priest except Judas Priest and that is their secret, I guess. We actually toured a package after their new album went out. It was Venom Inc. and Suffocation from the USA, Survive from Japan, Nervosa from Brazil and Aeternam from French Canada. All very different styles and a complete cross section of the metal evolution, yet every single band and member couldn't stop talking about how awesome the new Priest album was. I guess they transcend any kind of genre and just ARE!
Al Ravage (RAVAGE): They have remained the standard bearers for heavy metal with their consistently great song writing and their mild stylistic changes every few albums have kept them sounding fresh and relevant. Long live The Priest!
Pekka Montin (JUDAS RISING): Rob Halford and that's about it basically.
Anders Odden (CADAVER): I think they just created so much of the heavy metal lifestyle, look and musical direction for such a huge number of bands they cannot fail somehow. They are the original leather and spikes band, curiously linked to the sexual underground in London in the '70s, but everybody in metal sees it as an identity mark for being into metal, not S/M sex with all genders. The fact that Rob Halford is such an open-minded guy into all the metal in the world (black and death metal and the like) makes him a hero of the whole metal community. We all owe a lot to him and he relies on us to be ourselves, too.
Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): Obviously I'm just guessing here but I suppose it would be a narrow focus on keeping at it and weathering the obstacles. Of course, it helps to be hugely popular and not have to worry about needing a day job!
Jeff Becerra (POSSESSED): The secret to their longevity is talent. Sheer talent, musicianship and craftsmanship of their songs. Judas Priest are a once in a lifetime perfect storm. Priest is an amazing band and will forever reign as one of the greatest metal acts of all time.
Liv Jagrell (LIV SIN): Well good music and good musicians will always last! 🤘
Diego M. (VOLTAX): The amazing capacity for creating memorable riffs and memorable choruses and not trying to sound like any current trend. Instead they manage to always sound fresh on each of their albums and on top of it, also getting heavier with time.
Antti Heikkinen (SADISTIK FOREST): Well, metal and leather are quite sustainable materials both, so maybe the secret is there, or it might also have something to do with their songs. There are great tunes on every album they've ever made, and they have their very own distinguished style, but they have also dared to experiment with all kinds of things quite successfully and that way somehow kept it fresh for all these years.
Markus Makkonen (SADISTIK FOREST): To me, the thing with Judas Priest is their ability to change and adapt with the times. And of course, the song-oriented approach of theirs. Always go songs first, no matter what! You can tell how they pay a lot of attention to detail, while crafting their albums and it has paid off over the years. Their records have stood the test of time. Even the very first and that is because of the material written. When you listen to Priest - and Priest alone, you still don't have to listen same kind of songs all over again for 15 albums! You can listen to epic "Victim of Changes", then the anthemic "Take on the World", then go for chugging heaviness of "Metal Gods", only to chill out with "Desert Plains" after it and finally go all 80s with "Locked In", or "Heavy Metal". Then finalize your poor brains for good with the ultimate metal tunes like "Bullet Train". They have always paid attention to what is going on and tried out different kind of productions and approaches. Their latest one (masterpiece of an album, by the way) Firepower is a fine example of that fact! It is once again a little bit different. Finally, it needs to be said that they have carried the torch well to this day! In their current position it would be easy to become "a hit jukebox" only playing decades old classics, but instead they have decided to keep on writing excellent metal albums, from which Jugulator, Angel of Retribution and Firepower are splendid examples! All hail the Priest, the one and only Metal Gods!
Hampus Klang (BULLET): Good songwriting is the main reason. On top of that Halford's excellent voice and great riffs by Tipton/Downing drenched in leather and studs.
Also, maybe because they were thinking outside the box, most of the time with good results. And of course, they are hard heavy metal workers with enormous great releases and tours.
Andrea Franceschi (SILVERBONES): As the years went by, Judas Priest stayed true to their heavy metal roots album after album, hitting the stages with tons of energy. They keep on displaying a never-ending passion for the music they make and that is, in my opinion, the secret of such longevity.
Mark Ruffneck (OZ): I think there are two good reasons. First, Judas Priest's popularity has been good enough over the years that they have always been financially secure to do their own thing. Second is the group dynamics of the band. They seem to enjoy playing together and probably there are suitable roles for everyone, so they can continue to work together, year after year in the band.
Allan Johnson (EXCITER): Almost goes without saying, the best metal singer in the world, the best guitarists, best bassist/drummer combinations, the best song writing, they did everything perfectly.
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