10 Most Underrated Judas Priest Songs
Judas Priest were one of the first true heavy metal bands, getting their start in Birmingham, England. Their 16 studio albums have taken the world on a diverse and vast musical journey as they changed with the times and adapted their style with the evolution of heavy metal. They have hit songs from all stages of their career, but with 16 albums, some songs are bound to get overlooked.
Doing the research here wasn't the difficult part as Judas Priest have been on heavy listening rotation for any metalhead. The biggest challenge when creating this list was narrowing it down to 10! Priest are known to dig up some rarities live and paid homage to nearly all of their albums with Rob Halford at the helm on the Epitaph tour. Alas, some songs are still buried, which is where Noisecreep comes to the rescue with the 10 Most Underrated Judas Priest Songs!
Every song on ‘Painkiller’ is a gem. When fans discuss the power of this album, ‘One Shot at Glory’ is rarely mentioned. Yes, ‘Painkiller’ was a comeback of all sorts after two underwhelming albums in regards to the top quality fans were used to. What this song brings back is the fist-raising, triumphant arena anthem that Judas Priest wrote better than anyone. Scott Travis’ double bass never gives way, carrying the song through a steady and smooth ride out to the sunset, closing out the first Rob Halford era of the band.
The concept double album ‘Nostradamus’ was received with mixed fanfare. Many fans did not want an epic concept album from their beloved Priest while some embraced this new ground and appreciated the album for the undertaking the band took. ‘Revelations’ is grandiose, with the orchestral keyboard elements texturing the atmosphere as Halford takes on a storytelling style of singing that breaks into a catchy chorus. Whether you’re a fan of the album or not, this song should not be overlooked.
‘British Steel’ brought Judas Priest into the '80s with a new level of success. Everyone knows and loves tracks like ‘Living After Midnight’ and ‘Breaking the Law,’ but one that is consistently overlooked is ‘Steeler.’ This song sounds like the band forgot to include it on ‘Killing Machine,’ but we don’t mind. An all-out riffing assault, ‘Steeler’ closes out the album and curiously doesn’t have a chorus. Though the hallmark to Priest songs are usually the unforgettable choruses, they show that sometimes they don’t even need one to write a killer song.
‘Angel of Retribution’ was Halford’s first album with Judas Priest in 15 years and was one of the most anticipated comeback albums in all of metal. ‘Demonizer,’ a natural pick for the 10 Most Underrated Judas Priest Songs, is relentless from start to finish. It marks the halfway point in the album that truly let the fans know that Priest was back. The song has plenty of attitude and Halford lets his famed falsetto wails out at the end of the song, raising fists everywhere.
‘Killing Machine’ was the band’s second release of 1978 and the last of their output for the decade. The album is a bit inconsistent sonically, but sort of acts as a summation of everything they had done up to this point. ‘Evening Star’ begins with a soft melodic part with Halford prefacing the song’s concept. The track has a pop sensibility with a chorus that Halford could probably hold the microphone out live and let the crowd do all of the work for him. The solo is emotional, contrasting the overall tone of the song, but giving more weight to the hook.
‘Ram It Down’ was more of a return to form for Judas Priest, but with mixed results. Some songs still had a trace of elements from ‘Turbo’ while others, like ‘Hard as Iron,’ hinted at what was to come on the stellar ‘Painkiller.’ This song is uptempo with double bass leading the way and would not sound out of place on their next album. As with so many Judas Priest songs, ‘Hard as Iron’ is full of sexual innuendo to compliment their leather stagewear.
Fans often argue whether ‘70s Priest or ‘80s Priest was the best. While there’s no end to this debate in site, one argument those on the side of the band’s ‘70s output can make is that Judas Priest wrote magnificent slow jams. ‘Last Rose of Summer’ closes out Side A of ‘Sin After Sin’ in a pleasant, relaxing fashion and is definitely one of Judas Priest's Most Underrated Songs. The delicate drumming and repetitive guitar strumming are trance inducing, showcasing the band’s diverse writing skills while giving a nod to their influences.
Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens was a fitting replacement to Rob Halford, but his two albums with Judas Priest were underwhelming to say the least. However, this doesn’t mean that everything from those two albums can just be thrown away. ‘Cathedral Spires’ is undoubtedly the best song from the Ripper era, clocking in at over nine minutes. The soothing chorus contrasts the rest of the song, especially when Ripper hits the falsetto over the chugging rhythm at the end of the chorus.
Despite the heavy synthesizers, this song is no different than most Judas Priest classics. The writing style remains the same with those huge pre-choral and choral hooks that Halford so often delivers. Considering so many atrocities committed by the synthesizer in the ‘80s, Priest were among the least of the offenders. Naturally, fans wanted the harder material, but in hindsight we have something a little different and a lot of fun in ‘Turbo,’ with a lot of thanks going to the song ‘Locked In.’ There’s no denying this song never gets the credit it deserves.
‘Rocka Rolla’ was Judas Priest’s debut in 1974 and is a sonic black sheep in their vast catalog and ‘Run of the Mill’ is certain one of the 10 Most Underrated Judas Priest Songs. It's a softer track, but boasts one of Priest’s most sinister riffs. Melding atmospheric parts with a heaviness that characterized rock in that decade, this song showcases diversity. These softer influences came from the previous decade, while the ‘80s ran off with the heaviest elements. Don't let 'Run of the Mill' escape your ears any longer!