There are few heavy metal bands that have managed to scale the heights that Judas Priest has during their nearly 50-year career. Their presence and influence remains at an all-time high as evidenced by the success of their 2018 album, Firepower.
One of the 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees, winners of the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance, and 2006 VH1 Rock Honors recipients, Judas Priest originally formed in 1969 in Birmingham, England, an area many believe birthed heavy metal.
Founding members Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Ian Hill would be the nucleus of musicians, along with several different drummers over the years, that would go on to change the face of heavy metal.
After a “feeling out” period of a couple of albums, including 1974’s Rocka Rolla and 1976’s Sad Wings of Destiny, the lineup hit their stride. The result was a quartet of albums that separated Priest from the rest of the hard rock pack — 1977’s Sin After Sin, 1978’s Stained Class and Hell Bent for Leather, and 1979’s Unleashed in the East.
It could be said that Judas Priest owned the 1980s as they were second to none as far as pure metal goes, releasing such all-time classic albums as 1980’s British Steel, 1981’s Point of Entry, 1982’s Screaming for Vengeance, and 1984’s Defenders of the Faith. These titles spawned enduring metal anthems like “Breaking the Law,” “Living After Midnight,” “Heading Out to the Highway,” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.”
The remainder of the ’80s saw Priest embrace more melodic hard rock sounds on 1986’s Turbo and 1988’s Ram it Down, in addition to their second live set, 1987’s Priest… Live!, before releasing arguably the heaviest release of their entire career, 1990’s Painkiller, that coincided with the arrival of Scott Travis on drums.
2008 saw the release of their double disc concept album, Nostradamus, which peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200, and a year later A Touch of Evil: Live was issued, which led to the group’s aforementioned Grammy Award win due to a killer rendition of the classic, “Dissident Aggressor.”
In 2009, Priest began a celebration of the 30-year anniversary of the release of their classic British Steel album, a tour in which the group performed the album in its entirety, and was followed by an expanded double disc version in 2010 and a DVD of their live show.
By 2011, Downing announced that he was exiting the band. With a still burning desire to continue flying the flag of metal, Judas Priest continued on by enlisting newcomer Richie Faulkner on guitar. The move seemed to have reinvigorated the band, as evidenced by a show-stealing performance on the TV show “American Idol.” Also in 2011 was the release of The Chosen Few, followed by the Epitaph concert DVD in 2013, and Redeemer of Souls in 2014, which scaled the U.S. charts to No. 6.
On the heels of their nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Judas Priest issued their latest album, Firepower, which has become one of the most successful of the band’s entire career, including their highest chart placement in the U.S. at No. 5, and scoring their highest-charting commercial rock single in decades with “Lightning Strike.”
After wrapping up a highly successful North American tour in 2018, Judas Priest continues to bring Firepower to concertgoers across the country, with two shows scheduled at The Paramount on Tuesday, May 14 and Wednesday, May 15 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are available by going to www.paramountny.com. The Paramount is located at 370 New York Ave. in Huntington.