Judas Priest's masterstroke album, British Steel, released April 14, 1980, is officially 29 years old. Still, the band is on a tour celebrating its 30th anniversary. It deserves such a celebration. With dueling lead guitars, galloping grooves, and high, squealing vocals that pushed histrionics to new levels, the album defined Judas Priest not only as metal gods but also the future of metal itself.
British Steel set the template for the metal sounds that emanated from the hatchback stereos of denim-vested, feathered-hair heshers — immortalized in the 1986 short film Heavy Metal Parking Lot — as well as those that powered Beavis and Butt-Head's air guitars in the '90s. To this day, the rallying calls of "United" and "Grinder" still ring strong; "Breaking the Law" still makes you wanna, well, break the law; "Living After Midnight" remains pop/rock radio gold; and the fusion of metal and reggae that is "The Rage" has yet to be outdone.
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Initially maligned by many in the mainstream as a fad, and critically reviled as juvenile and philistine, Priest's brand of heavy metal has endured the panoply of rock trends, from grunge to goth. In or out of mainstream fashion, Priest will outdraw its contemporary competitors.