This album defines British Heavy Metal. There isn't a weak song in sight. Glenn and K.K.'s guitar playing is flawless throughout, their solos mind-blowing in both precision and power. Check out the solos to 'Love Bites' and 'Freewheel Burning' for examples of the perfect heavy metal twin-guitar assault as pioneered by Judas Priest. As for vocals, there's not a lot you can say about Rob Halford, except that he is the one and only Metal God.
Every metal fan should own this album. Young bands should listen to 'Defenders of the Faith' as the blueprint for heavy metal performed as it should be: anthemic choruses; beautiful melodies; wall-crumbling riffs; stratospheric vocals; tight rhythm section; synergy between band members; alternating pace. If you don't have a copy, get one now.
Play it loud.
I always think of this album in conjunction with Screaming for Vengeance - in fact I sometimes feel that these two records could have been put together as a double album. It also coincides with my youth at a point where I was discovering what kind of sound I liked. This cemented my love of heavy metal.
Cast your mind back to the eighties and the early days of Kerrang. I remember vividly how much of an impact Screaming and Defenders had on the rock press. And rightly so. It's perhaps hard to recall after so many years and so many bands how much Priest did with this album to shape what we call heavy metal or rock now. They virtually invented the sound and Defenders is perhaps the best example Priest have of the balance of commerciality and full on metal.
I have read that some feel it is too accessible. Not true. It is successful and popular and whilst one may turn their collective noses up at this concept the truth is that when a band sells records it can change tastes and also carry on viably. One cannot knock a band trying to make some money. The fact that Priest did it with such genre changing aplomb is commendable.
Make no mistake however - this is a heavy record. The way some folks review it one would think that it is a radio friendly pop album and that would be very wrong indeed. Nope we have some of the best full on speaker rocking metal ever produced and the songs Heavy Duty rolling into Defenders of the Faith alone should be on any rock fans list. Give the combo a listen at ear bursting volume and then try and suggest that this is over commercial. It's a brain melting gruesome twosome.
We have of course a few more classics often used live. The Sentinel, Love Bites, Some Heads Are Gonna Roll and Freewheel Burning. Many bands would be happy if in their entire career they came up with these gems. Priest had them on one record for goodness sake.
There is however a sting at the end. We have with many of the re-issues the dreaded bonus tracks. Now don't get me wrong here, sometimes it's nice to have all the stuff punted out by your fav band, but often the added extras just don't help. Turn On Your Light is a horrible dirge and rightly so was never used originally. The live version of Heavy Duty/Defenders is good but oddly enough for a live recording isn't as good or heavy in some ways as the original studio effort. Therefore it has no place on this one. Priest would be better served by doing an AD/DC and collating all the guff together as a "Backtracks," type collection. That way you could have all the dodgy stuff but not actually end up having to listen to it. Thankfully as the extras are at the end you can turn the CD off.
Still, it's one of the best records that Priest have made and as Priest is one of the best bands in rock history it then means this is one of the un-missable items anyone should own if they like heavy metal and possess a pulse.
on 11 April 2009
On its first listen, Defenders of the Faith, despite some commercial leanings, doesn't possess a hit single - and it's all the better for that.
This album is epic and dramatic, Rob Halford's soaring and at times operatic vocals only gives this release a sense of granduer that the ambitious Nostradamus failed miserably to replicate. The production is intense, heavy and never again would Judas Priest appear this intense.
From the relentless pace of Freewheel Burning to the closer Heavy Duty/Defenders of the Faith, the intensity never lets up. The twin guitar work of the masters Downing and Tipton is class, and even Dave Holland's drum work - never a spectacular drummer - benefits from the production.
The band's performance is polished and shiny, as was illustrated on The Sentinel, but they also show a sadistic side with Love Bites and Eat Me Alive that whiplashes the listener with its sharp chords and razor-like delivery.
There isn't a duff track on this album and despite the classics before like British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance which will always be the albums that cemented their reputation, Defenders of the Faith represented a culmination of all these things, a perfect blend of rock, heavy metal and their sense of sinister, artistic muscle.
The weak Turbo (1986) followed and then the about face Ram it Down (1988). And although Painkiller (1990) restored their reputation as one of the world's best rock bands, its production didn't share Defenders class.
Therefore, Defenders of the Faith really was a watershed release for the band and while die hards will point to the previous releases of British Steel and Vengeance as being superior, I beg to differ. Never again would Priest sound this polished or intense, and if they're honest, both British Steel and Vengeance contain weak tracks that Defenders just doesn't. In short, 40 odd minutes of the best rock music ever produced by Judas Priest and arguably one of the best albums of 1984.
on 19 May 2014
I remember back in 1984 watching at a music TV show and all of a sudden, being amazed by the video clip of "Freewheel Burning". Lasers all over the place, headbanging, leather-clad lads and the band appearing in the middle of a video game (Pole Position, anyone remember going to play that in the game arcade?). At the time it was the most futuristic and edgy video clip I've seen on any band and that really caught my attention. But the music... fast, raw and sophisticated at the same time, full of energy, strong, powerful, adrenaline-fuelled, everything was played perfectly, at the right speed, skillfully... It was the first time I was exposed to Judas Priest and that was a defining moment in my life. From then on I became a metal-head. The next thing was to get the album and finding out there is no disappointing song on it, from the above-mentioned Freewheel Burning to Heavy Duty/Defenders of the Faith, this album set the standard of what heavy-metal should be at a new height. In fact, in my opinion, this is the opus prima of heavy metal. If I have to keep just one album of the genre in a desert island, this is, without a doubt, the album that would go with me. Judas Priest are just a brilliant band, and each of their albums have a different charm, appeal and sound. Some albums are heavier or faster than others, some will appeal more certain people than others, but they are all good. This is the best for my own personal taste, but to anyone slightly knowledgeable of music, this is a piece of musical fine jewellery. If you like it fat and heavy, this is for you.
Now this is a fantastic deluxe edition,it can be done if those in charge care enough.First of all the packaging,superb die cut slipcase with fold out digipak housing the discs and a neat little booklet with just enough information to make it worthwhile and some excellent live photo's capturing the moment.
Disc 1 ... The original studio album, remastered once again,truthfully i cant tell too much difference between this and the previous remaster but i'm not one for playing them side by side for every little difference.This was a quality album then and it sounds fantastic now.Its back to the original tracklisting with the bonus tracks removed,presumably because their now part of the live gig on the other discs.
discs 2/3... Priest live at Long Beach Arena 1984., its 2 discs of smoldering Priest ,at the top of their game,hard to believe they played every track from the album bar ' Eat Me Alive '. Taken ? from a radio broadcast its hard to believe why it was kept under wraps for so long,it knocks 'Priest Live' for six !!.
For a recordong 30 years old it sounds wonderful.i can only assume the (master) tapes were in great condition and used here to perfection.
A truly excellent release,now for an expanded version of 'Unleashed In The East',we can only hope.
on 19 May 2012
Defenders Of The Faith,released in Jan 84,a time of rock turmoil,,Rush had released Signals a keyboard album, Van Halen the single Jump and Def Leppard the soft rock album Pyromania,all sold well.Where would Metal go ,was it out of fashion? Metal Gods, Judas Priest,the most influential metal band stood firm,recording one of the best metal albums of the 80's.Taking,its lead from the tour they had just completed ,Live Vengeance,on which the Priest were playing at a very energetic tempo.Defenders Of The Faith is almost a thrash metal album compared to Screaming For Vengeance,all the songs race along ,flowing from one to the other.Each song is carefully crafted with harmonic twin guitars, great choruses and the lead breaks are some of the best Priest ever recorded. The band are on top form and the whole album has an uplifting feel.I saw Priest in Dec 83 at the start of the Defenders tour in Birmingham ,their home city,they also appeared live on the TV show The Tube at this time. They were on fire live, blasting this album out at an unrelenting pace.I still play this CD ,it's a blast, addictive stuff and great fun. History will record the fact that Judas Priest stood up ,at the height the 80's keyboard assault,to defend the guitar and did so in great style. Metal Gods? Yes they earned this title over the years and this CD is one of the reasons, it has a place in time.Imagine Xmas 1983 playing on the radio [BBC Radio 1 rock night] is Van Halen's Jump getting it's first UK radio play ,,immediatly followed by Judas Priest's new song, Some Heads Are Gonna Roll,you needed to be there, pure Heavy Metal history
on 15 April 2015
Disappointing box set. Remastered main cd doesn't have the same power as the original vinyl. Is it me or do so many of these reissues sound very poor to the originals?. I seem to recall being blown away by this album originally. Had to get though as don't have on cd yet.
The bonus live set is also disappointing sonically too but then is from a live TV broadcast. I still have a video from around the same time which I recall, as I can no longer play it, was much better.
Still good to have but not worth the full price paid.
on 9 September 2008
The follow up to the monster Screaming For Vengeance opus was always going to be hard work and to some extent the cover of Defenders clearly trades on the success of Screaming by aping its gormless imagery of a mythical mechanical beast (complete with machine guns and tank tracks, courtesy of Doug Johnson). It's worthy of note that I had a tee shirt of the cover in my youth and it had the effect of reducing a bus full of people to laughter when they passed me on the street - serious it is not, although I sometimes wonder if Priest actually get their own joke. The impression before playing the CD is therefore one of continuity from Screaming and to some extent this is achieved in the music. The music is warmer, less intense and more melodic than Screaming but the general style doesn't really stray from its predecessor in the way that Turbo does from Defenders or Killing Machine does from Stained Class. The production is also less intense, almost bordering on pedestrian if I was to be uncharitable.
Freewheel Burning is a `fast and furious' opener in the tradition of Exciter, Rapid Fire or Ram It Down, all of which are in a similar vein and open their respective CDs. Why it was released as single, following the commercial success of the radio friendly `You've Got Another Thing Coming' from Screaming, is a mystery, as it has all the subtlety and finesse of being hit in the face with a cricket bat. To be fair the song is all over the place. Multiple rhyming of words ending in `us', double quick verses, screaming bridges and a baffling subject matter should write this off as truly awful but the conviction of the delivery and sheer power sort of carry it through with some success - Top 40 material it is not.
Of the rest of (what was) side 1, Jawbreaker is excellent with its urgent riff and screaming finale (what sort of snake Rob was going to break his jaw on is anybody's guess..), Rock Hard Ride Free is melodic but a bit plodding and the Sentinel is a good frenetic atmospheric yarn about `the metal future'.
The lascivious and controversial `Love Bites' and `Eat Me Alive' are up next (both courting controversy at the time due to the lyrical content). `Love Bites' lumbers along in the vein of `Rock Hard' and `Some Heads', which comes later in the listing, but `Eat Me Alive' positively charges out of the speakers, carried effectively by Rob's snarling vocals. `Some Heads' fairs better in a live setting, as it is a fairly slow melodic piece somewhat stifled by the production and when the Night Comes Down stands as a fairly impassioned ballad. Finally, there is the duet of Heavy Duty and Defenders of The Faith. This is where the album lifts again. In the bloodline with Take on The World and United this is another firm nod to the almost `Queen' like nature of some of Priests more well known anthems. This is a good finale to an album which tries to follow the successful formula of Screaming but unfortunately slightly loses out in comparison as a result.
on 11 September 2013
Solid heavy metal album, this is arguably brittish heavy metal at it's very best. Hardhitting, headbanging heaven. So why not 5 stars? Well, you have to really enjoy guitars to appreciate this album at it's fullest, so it might not be everyone's cup of tea. However if you do like the sound of a good guitar (preferably electric) then you will truly love this album!
on 2 October 2015
Well what a surprise ! not been that much of a Priestie over the years but the price for a decent CD and live album was too much temptation
Always thought they were technically skilled clever vocalist but preferred other performers so did not pay attention, apology due.
This is excellent value Metal well produced well presented and a happy crowd at the live performance not a duff track and some glorious performances as well
At this price £5 just give it a whirl, if you don't like can always give away for Xmas :)
Bet you keep it