"British Steel" is inevitably part of Heavy Metal history due to it's timeless hymns to rebellion.
One of the reasons why Judas Priest are one of the most important bands of all time is because of “British Steel”, the album that brought the band to a huge level of popularity and that showed everybody how NWOBHM was done.
With the previous album, “Hell Bent for Leather”, (aka “Killing Machine”) the band incorporated officially their leather-based image, became less dark and were more about the fun of it. That album was musically going in a direction that “Stainless Class” was really aiming for, but it had the attitude that “British Steel” perfected. Even strictly musically speaking, the band changed, influenced by some mainstream genres of the time; metallically precise rhythms, low-end guitars, cheerful melodies. A package of metal anthems that will inspire almost any metal band after that.
These anthems are full of a spirit that is almost reminiscent of the Arena Rock kind of sound, because they do sound invincible, immortal, and timeless. The lyrics can’t be completely denied, as they contribute to this sort of feeling: some cite rebellion and a tough-guy image, like in “Breaking the Law”, “United”, “Living After Midnight”, “You Don’t have To Be Old To Be Wise”. “The Rage” though is an interesting, brief description of someone getting angry, and “Metal Gods” seems to tell the story of robots taking over mankind a-la Terminator.
An album full of immense hymns to rebellion, classic songs that will bring Judas Priest up up with the great bands of music history: “Living After Midnight”, “Metal Gods”, “Breaking The Law”. The less known songs maintain just as high levels, like the immediate intro “Rapid Fire”, a more aggressive, pounding track that gives an excellent feeling right at the beginning. Later on, “United” or “You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise” are still excellent dishes, as well as the last track that closes the album, “Steeler”. But “the Rage” is easily the most different song, because of it’s more stretched out nature, not as in your face but still quite intriguing in songwriting.
“British Steel” is a Metal masterpiece that will go down in history as one of the most important of it’s genre: in not even forty minutes, Judas Priest create something that still today is fun, rebellious, and daring.