Judas Priest - Defenders of the Faith 30th Anniversary Edition (Sony)

Better late than never...

A number of question surround this reissue; Heralded as a ‘30th anniversary special edition’, the album has actually been re-released over 31 years after its initial appearance, whilst hardcore fans of the band will be left wondering why Defenders… gets the deluxe treatment whereas it’s more illustrious predecessor, Screaming for Vengeance, reached its entry into early middle age with nary a whisper from band or label alike… or indeed anywhere else. Except of course here at Metal as Fuck where we gave that album the star treatment it deserved – but you’d expect nothing less from Metal’s liveliest read, right?

Anyways, and all moaning aside, fans of heavy metal the way it used to be made will welcome the chance to reappraise Defenders of the Faith. It’s accepted as one of the classics of the Judas Priest canon, and with all-time Priest staples such as Freewheel Burning and The Sentinel numbered amongst its cuts you’d be hard pressed to stake a claim otherwise. But pound for pound it’s nowhere near as strong a release as …Vengeance, which would be this reviewers recommendation for anyone looking for a way into the Priest ouvre. The album tires a little towards the back end, and tracks such as Night Comes Down and Heavy Duty aren’t quite strong enough in the cold light of day and at three decades remove to truly pass themselves off as ‘classics’ in this old Priest fan’s books…

Longstanding fans will, however,  be attracted by the addition of a full, unexpurgated live Priest show from Long Beach Arena (scene of the recording of Iron Maiden’s famed Live After Death effort) in 1984 spread over two of the three discs of this reissue, and there are certainly enough highlights dotted amongst the tracks to make it worth seeking out if you know your Priest onions – the version of Sinner included here is the best I’ve ever heard in over thirty years of fandom, and the raw heaviness of the recording will also have true fans salivating – not to mention wondering how Priest ever got by with such a limited drummer as Dave Holland behind the kit for so long. Not for everyone, then, but a nice release nonetheless. 

 

Defenders of the Faith is out now