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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Judas Priest

Defenders of the Faith

Review by Gary Hill

In an attempt to catch up on some older releases we’ve never reviewed before, I decided to turn my attention to this oldie from Judas Priest. The funny thing is, looking back on it, I didn’t remember it being this good. I also didn’t realize how many songs from this set have appeared on compilation albums. Since I’ve reviewed many of these songs on those discs, the track reviews here are taken from those or at least adapted from those in the interest of consistency.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
Free Wheel Burning
Fast and furious, as the opening line declares, this one is a full on smoker. It's one of the most frantic cuts the band has ever produced, and still works every bit as well today. The guitar duel in the middle segment is stellar.
Rob Halford has said in interviews essentially that he had tried to "come out of the closet" with some of his lyrics. Looking back to songs like this one - how did we not get it? This is a frantic rocker, and the lyrics are pretty blatant.
Rock Hard Ride Free
One that should resonate well with bikers everywhere, this rocker is a solid, if not standout cut.
The Sentinel
Feeling hard-edged and a bit dark, this cruncher plods along at times, but it is a strong one nonetheless.
Love Bites
Starting with a tentative pounding sound, this one has a stripped down arrangement on the early portions. There are signs of techno music here, too. This one does manage to rock out at points, too, though. The later segment where Halford rapid fires several lines of lyrics is pretty strong, and he does manage to get in a scream or two. This has never been a favorite of mine. I think at least partly because the more rhythmically based Priest songs (like this one) just seem to work not as well as some of the other stuff. Still, there is some tasty guitar work on show here.
Eat Me Alive
Another from the "how did we miss the gay references?" files, this is a fast and energetic track with some killer soloing.
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll

This is another classic, and another that truly empowers the listener. This hard rocker is a killer anthem.

Night Comes Down
A killer metal balladic song, this one is dramatic and powerful.
Heavy Duty
Percussion starts this. It’s another rhythmically based song and I’m not all that crazy about that variety of Priest songs. I’d consider this one sort of a throw-away. It is very similar to “Evil Fantasies” from Hell Bent for Leather. It’s the weakest track here, no question about it. It segues straight into the next tune.
Defenders of the Faith
Carrying the same rhythmic structure from the previous piece, this adds some more melody and some vocals delivering the title to round it out. It’s not a big improvement from that piece, but it is an improvement. This is pretty short and I’d consider this one-two the weakest two songs here. That makes this an odd choice for title track and the duo not a great way to end a strong album. It’s probably part of why I’ve not considered this a strong disc all these years.
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