JUDAS PRIEST — British Steel

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JUDAS PRIEST - British Steel cover
3.96 | 127 ratings | 11 reviews
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Album · 1980

Filed under Heavy Metal


1. Rapid Fire (4:07)
2. Metal Gods (4:00)
3. Breaking The Law (2:35)
4. Grinder (3:58)
5. United (3:34)
6. You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise (5:04)
7. Living After Midnight (3:31)
8. The Rage (4:44)
9. Steeler (4:30)

Total Time 36:03


- Rob Halford / vocals
- K.K. Downing / guitar
- Glenn Tipton / guitar
- Ian Hill / bass
- Dave Holland / drums

About this release

Released by Columbia, April 14th 1980.

Released in the US with the following tracklist:

1. Breaking The Law (2:35)
2. Rapid Fire (4:08)
3. Metal Gods (4:00)
4. Grinder (3:58)
5. United (3:35)
6. Living After Midnight (3:31)
7. You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise (5:04)
8. The Rage (4:44)
9. Steeler (4:30)

Total Time 36:03

Reissued in 2001 with the following bonus tracks:

10. Red, White & Blue (recorded during the 1985 Turbo sessions) (3:42)
11. Grinder (live at Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, 5 May 1984) (4:49)

Reissued in 2010 with a bonus live Dvd/Cd with the following tracklist:

1. Rapid Fire (4:18)
2. Metal Gods (4:34)
3. Breaking The Law (2:43)
4. Grinder (4:06)
5. United (3:45)
6. You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise (5:24)
7. Living After Midnight (4:53)
8. The Rage (5:04)
9. Steeler (5:23)
10. The Ripper (3:09)
11. Prophecy (Dvd & iTunes Version Only) (6:12)
12. Hell Patrol (3:57)
13. Victim Of Changes (9:29)
14. Freewheel Burning (5:49)
15. Diamonds & Rust (4:07)
16. You've Got Another Thing Comin' (8:58)

Total Time 81:51

Thanks to Pekka, metalbaswee, Lynx33, adg211288, Time Signature, Unitron for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Released in 1980 British Steel marks the start of Judas Priest's 1980's work and is their sixth album. The 1980's represent the most stable time in Judas Priest's history in terms of line-up. With the introduction of Dave Holland on drums the band would keep the same line-up up to and including the 1988 album Ram it Down, putting out six full-lengths during the decade. The trouble is that I find the 80's to also be quite an inconsistent time for Judas Priest although I guess that's true of every decade they've been active and it's certainly better than the 2000's. The 80's do however have two of my least favourite Judas Priest albums, however those are stories for forthcoming reviews.

There was a time when I would have counted British Steel amongst the very best albums of Judas Priest but my regard for the album has declined over time and I now consider it to be a step down from Killing Machine, the last 70's album. Given that Stained Class before that was also even better this period in Judas Priest history represents a declining quality for me. This one is still a pretty great album overall though. Breaking the Law is of course one of their most well known songs and that one is indeed top quality work, but the other hit which is Living After Midnight I'm quite indifferent to these days. Rapid Fire is a great song though.

To be honest, at least for me I think Judas Priest's 80's work was mostly eclipsed by the growing New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement, particularly by Iron Maiden, whose debut shares release date with British Steel. Of course the NWoBHM might have turned out very different without bands like Judas Priest preceding it, so that's why I'd recommend newcomers to Judas Priest to start with the 70's work (plus 1990's Painkiller) before exploring this era. British Steel may be one of their most famous records and is a solid Judas Priest album overall, but a classic? I think not.

Attribution: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/judas-priest-british-steel-t3805.html
1980 was an amazing year for me personally and that included the music that came out that year as well. Being someone who was into that heavier style of music, this was certainly essential listening for me back then. Many Metal fans "pan" this one for being too commercial, so I was really looking forward to playing this again, as it's been over 20 years since I have done so. Call it nostalgia or simply my taste in Metal but I still love this record and rate it along with "Sad Wings Of Destiny" as their best two albums up to this point. For me it's headbanging time almost from beginning to end with this record. The uptempo and relentless "Rapid Fire" to start is followed by the slower "Metal Gods" that has such a good rhythm to it. Love "Breaking The Law" even if it's only 2 1/2 minutes long. "Grinder" is simply that, a grinding headbanging tune. "United" is my least favourite on here but "You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise" makes up for it. This reminds me of Bonn led AC/DC for some reason. "Living After Midnight" always got me going back in the day. "I took the city about 1am loaded, loaded". Classic stuff. "The Rage" is interesting with almost a reggae beat to it. THE POLICE did influence a lot of bands including RUSH. It all ends with a kick ass tune called "Steeler". I love this album and it will always remind me of my rebellious youth.
Phonebook Eater

"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.
Did you like Killing Machine - AKA Hell Bent for Leather? Well, in that case British Steel should go down well with you, since aside from a change of drummer the album is pretty much a refinement and polishing of the general approach of that album. There's the tedious attempt at a football chant that would have been better off removed from the album (United, taking the place of the predecessor's Take On the World), there's the kickass pop-metal fast tracks (Breaking the Law, Living After Midnight) and the occasional nod to the style of Sin After Sin or Stained Class (The Rage, Steeler).

On the whole, the band are on good form, new drummer Dave Holland integrating well into their sound and Rob Halford giving enthusiastic vocal performances as always. Musically speaking, however, the album is a bit less varied than Killing Machine, which had the groovey as hell title track and the intriguing ballad Evening Star to break things up a bit. Still, it's an accessible and very listenable album which will appeal to a broad range of listeners, though aside from the classic Breaking the Law I wouldn't put many pieces of here on my personal Priest "best of" list - a lot of them are rather interchangeable.

The bottom line is this: if you want a Priest album where every single song is distinctive, original, packed with personality and an inspiration to legions of metal bands following it, then go for Sin After Sin, or Stained Class, or Sad Wings of Destiny - well, in fact any Priest album whose title starts with S is a good one. If you want a Priest album which kept the band competitive against the NWOBHM scallywags who were starting to challenge them on their own turf but doesn't exactly break a whole lot of new ground compared to its predecessors, British Steel's got your back.
British Steel is one of those all time classic albums, like Reign in Blood, Number Of The Beast or Paranoid. The kind of album that half the things you’ve ever read have told you is amazing and beyond reproach and the other half has told you is overrated and nowhere near the band’s best work. Sometimes its difficult to get an unbiased opinion either way.

Released in 1980, British Steel helped Judas Priest a long way in becoming the institution they are and formed a large part of the public’s perception of the band.

The album contained the hit singles ‘Breaking The Law,’ ‘Living After Midnight,’ and ‘United.’

Elsewhere; songs like ‘Rapid Fire,’ ‘Steeler,’ and ‘Grinder,’ delivered the hard and fast metal sound that helped form the basis of the thrash sound a few short years later, while tracks like ‘Metal Gods,’ and ‘You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise,’ stay closer on the borders of rock.

The quality of songwriting is genuinely good and there is no filler, this is a good album plain and simple. The band took everything they had been doing over their career and compressed it down into an easy to manage collection of pure metal.

As Scott Ian is fond of stating, Judas Priest were the first band to really take up the banner of metal, to revel in the name, to champion the genre. They weren’t ashamed, they wouldn’t rather be thought of as a Blues band or a Folk band or anything else. They wanted to be metal.

The material should speak for itself as this is a great record; if you like Judas Priest you may find another album you like more, but British Steel is one of the all time classic metal albums and there’s not much you can do about that if you don’t like that situation, it may have commercial appeal, some of it may sound cheesy to you, the production may be too slick for you… but British Steel is a classic.
All I can say is "wow!" to see an overwhelming positive response of this album. Nostalgic to some? I believe so, but calling it classic? Definitely no! Judas Priest is metal god, no doubt about it, both Halford cs, along with other names such as Motorhead, Iron Maiden, or Saxon shaped the early heavy metal form that invaded the world, but in this case, even god can fail. If not only for the anthemic commercial metal of "Breaking The Law" with its insanely memorable intro and the infectious hooks of "Living After Midnight", this album is pretty blunt as most of the tracks here are quite forgettable.

The third fave track is probably the closing track of "Steeler". It has nice and neat solos, a real deal of British heavy metal, and deserved a place in the same league as that two singles. "Rapid Fire" has the furious guitar duel of Downing/Tipton but the final arrangement isn't astonishing. "Grinder" and "Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise" are hardly heavy metal to my ears, hard rock probably, good at best. Now, "Metal Gods" is an embarrassing filler, "The Rage" probably should be named "The Reggae" as the intro kinda reminds me of Bob Marley's Jamaican groove, and "United" is the worst of them all. Sounds like an African peacecorps boyscout anthem to me.

I don't mind a band changing style, in this case, stripping off your metal jacket and gone softer is also okay in my book, but pay attention to the strong and impeccable songwriting which plays an important role on a great album. In order to be a true Priest fan, you have to have this album, but apparently they have to be old to be better as their newer releases such as "Vengeance" and "Painkiller" are much better.
This sixth release from Judas Priest is the best of the best for the Priest and one of the absolute best heavy metal albums ever. British Steel is synonymous with Heavy Metal. Highlights are Breaking the Law, Living After Midnight, and Metal Gods. The only weak spot is United which is kind of a non-metal Anthem. British Steel was the first vinyl record that I ever bought with my own money, so there is a sentimental reason to my 5-star rating as well as my just feeling that this is one of the greatest metal albums ever. For those too young to remember, there was once a time when MTV played music videos and one day I was watching MTV and in between the Genesis and Peter Gabriel videos they played this songs called Breaking The Law from Judas Priest. If I remember correctly, the video consisted of the band driving along in a car being chased by the police with Rob Halford belting out "Breaking the Law, Breaking The Law" and the guys playing their guitars in the back seat. At any rate, I was hooked and had to get this album. I believe that this was their first album with which they had some mainstream commercial success in the United Staets as a result of Breaking the Law and Living After Midnight getting radio and video play, which may be a negative to some, but to me it was well deserved success.

Time Signature
Metal gods...

Genre: heavy metal of the metal gods

Welcome to the 1980s, the decade that would give us Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Metallica, Megadeth and so many other metal gods. But it was this album that instated the original, the untouchable, metal gods Judas Priest.

The greatness and importance of this album cannot be overestimated, and I guess Scott Ian of Anthrax said it best when he described this album as the album the defined heavy metal.

It is no coincidence that almost all the tracks on this album are legendary now, including "Metal Gods", "Breaking the Law", "Living after Midnight", and the anthem "United". The opener "Rapid Fire" is breakneck fast, while "Grinder" is based around a catchy and instantly recognizable guitar riff. "Steeler" is a solid heavy metal track, and "The Rage" shows that Judas Priest are not afrid of experimentation, as its intro is basically reggae!

Enough said. Just buy this album. The Metal Gods command thee!

Members reviews

This is classical Heavy Metal album with many memorable compositions... still I can't see past the fact that it's a very overrated release.

Judas Priest were at the top of their career with the release of "British Steel" but was this really the definitive set of tracks that we the fans would want to remember them by? I surely hope not! After hearing this album more times than I should have, back when I was a teenager, it's clear that most of its momentum has become lost in time and what I get out of hearing "British Steel" today is just a very good Judas Priest album. Unfortunately, very good is not enough when we compare this record to masterpieces like "Sad Wings Of Destiny", "Stained Class" or "Painkiller".

Most of the material is great but, with the exception of "Breaking The Law", it just never reaches the higher levels of the other stand out tracks from the band's discography. It's inevitable for me to compare this release to Iron Maiden's "The Number Of The Beast" since both of these albums were and are generally hailed as the masterpieces of these two bands. Fortunately we, the fans, know better!

***** star songs: Breaking The Law (2:35)

**** star songs: Rapid Fire (4:08) Metal Gods (4:00) Grinder (3:58) United (3:35) Living After Midnight (3:31) The Rage (4:44) Steeler (4:30)

*** star songs: You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise (5:04)
Metal gods go Pop!

British Steel might be Judas Priest’s most well-known album and this is really sad as it is one of their least good albums ever, in my opinion! Following the already disappointing Killing Machine, the band further streamlined their sound with this album and songs like Breaking The Law and particularly Living After Midnight are as commercial as they ever got. They even made music videos to some songs from this album with the Breaking The Law video being especially funny, but incredibly dated. These two songs are among the most widely known Judas Priest songs and this might be one of the primary reasons for this albums (in my opinion, entirely undeserved) status as a ‘classic’. Like with most great bands, their biggest ‘hits’ are almost never among their better songs.

Admittedly there are a couple of good songs on this album too, most notably Metal Gods. But I cannot help but feel that everything that is good about British Steel is such that they had already done it better on earlier albums and everything that is bad about it is just bad! Rapid Fire opens this album and though having a powerful verse and rhythm, that is basically all it comes to! It feels underdeveloped. Metal Gods follows and, as I said, this is the album’s best song. Grinder is a pretty good song too, but like most songs on this album it somehow feels oversimplified in comparison to the often quite elaborated early Priest output. United is basically a carbon copy of Take On The World from the previous album and has the very same Arena Rock sound and feel; clearly designed as an arena anthem.

It is now that the album really loses its power, You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise manages to be boring and cheesy at the same time and Living After Midnight is just a total embarrassment. The latter is Pop Metal! The Rage and Steeler are, on the other hand, decent songs but it is too late now to save this album from mediocrity. One major problem is that most songs have the same sound and there is a serious lack of diversity on this album. I also constantly have the feeling that I’ve heard this before. British Steel seems to be a product of a stagnant and rather one-dimensional band.

I find this album very overrated and actually one of the least good albums in Judas Priest’s entire discography. It is sad that many people take this to be representative of the band as a whole when they made so much better music both before and after this one.
Breakin' The conventions.

In 1980 the world of heavy metal would never be the same after the release of this album. After defining their style on albums like Killing Machine and Stained Glass, Judas Priest would finally reach their zenith with British Steel, an album that embodies the entire NWOBHM movement in a single blow. It's got catchy hooks, rocking riffs and some of the best songs of the time.

With classics like Living After Midnight and the amazing Breaking The Law with it's incredibly memorable riffing it's also no wonder that this is the album that broke Priest into the mainstream. While it's worth having simply for those singles it also helps that every other song on the album is a powerhouse that never lets down. Grinder is a throwback to the earlier, sludgier days of Priest while Rapid Fire breaks open the album with some speedier works.

All in all this is an absolute classic and essential album to any metal collection. If not for this release you could say goodbye to the NWOBHM and European power metal movements. It's hard to imagine anyone from Helloween to Iron Maiden making a splash without this masterpiece being around. In this reviewer's most humble opinion, that is.

5 out of 5. If you don't have it - get it.

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