5 Best Judas Priest Albums of All Time

Categories: Lists, Metal!

judas-priest-maria-vassett.jpg
Maria Vassett

For more than 40 years, Judas Priest has embodied all that is exhilarating, innovative, ridiculous, and wonderful in heavy metal. From their beginnings as a blues-influenced hard rock ensemble in Birmingham, England, through a string of genre-defining albums, surviving both the '80s and what can only be known as the "Ripper" Owens-era, Judas Priest is back with their 15th studio album, Redeemer of Souls, and a full-scale tour that finds them in Phoenix on Saturday. Here's a look back at some of the band's most influential, groundbreaking, and just plain greatest albums.

Stained Class (1978)

This is Priest's undeniable high point; Stained Class is where the band fully blossomed into a hideous beast of previously unheard brutality. The savage dual guitar attack of Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing is honed to perfection; Rob Halford's alleged suicide-provoking lyrics delivered with an intensity he never topped -- Stained Class is speed metal's year zero.

Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)

One of Judas Priest's most progressive-rock oriented efforts, Sad Wings proved to be just as influential as Stained Class, but to an audience geared towards technical virtuosity and long-form and complex songwriting. This album is also stunning in its widescreen scope of chilling lyrical nihilism that set a new standard for metal. Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" reaches its logical endpoint in "Genocide," and it would take almost a decade until the emergence of '80s acts like Slayer to match the utter bleakness of Sad Wings of Destiny.


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