JUDAS PRIEST — British Steel (review)

JUDAS PRIEST — British Steel album cover Album · 1980 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
1.5/5 ·
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.
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