Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band from Birmingham, formed in 1968. Judas Priest's core line-up consists of vocalist Rob Halford, guitarists Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing, and bassist Ian Hill. The band has gone through several drummers over the years, though Scott Travis has held the position since 1989 and is the band's longest-serving drummer. They have been cited as an influence on many heavy metal musicians and bands.
Their popularity and status as one of the definitive heavy metal bands has earned them the nickname "Metal Gods" from their song of the same name.
They have sold over 40 million albums worldwide, and were named the 78th greatest artist of all time by VH1 in 2010 and 2nd Greatest Metal Band (next to Black Sabbath) by MTV. The band got its name from the Bob Dylan song The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest, according to original vocalist Al Atkins.
Judas Priest were one of the first heavy metal bands to modernize the twin-guitar sound, with the duo of K. K. Downing and Glenn Tipton. They combined this sound with Rob Halford's unique vocal style to create their own unique style of heavy-rock.
Their 1978 album “Killing Machine” (retitled “Hell Bent for Leathe”r and released in 1979 in the USA) saw a change of direction towards shorter, poppier, more American-influenced songs. The following release, “British Steel” (14 April 1980), took an even sharper turn in the same direction and was perhaps the first heavy metal album to record radio-friendly songs with pop hooks, in a concise format.
The band's next effort, “Point of Entry” (26 February 1981), is harder to define — the sound was very "raw" (i.e. minimal sound manipulation) and the songs were somewhat moody, and paced at a slower than usual tempo. Subsequent albums “Screaming for Vengeance” (17 July 1982), which contained the popular radio hit "You've Got Another Thing Comin'", and “Defenders of the Faith “(4 January 1984) once again set high standards in intensity and production, and continued to influence the sonic shape of heavy metal. “Turbo” (15 April 1986) found the group introducing a "synth-guitar" sound to their metal template.
“Ram It Down “ (1988), an album containing several cast-off and reworked tracks from the previous album “Turbo,” including the eponymous tune, garnered little commercial attention. The style was heavier than the material found on “Turbo” but still contained the synth elements of the previous release.
For “Painkiller” (1990) Judas Priest returned to a more straightforward heavy metal style with more technical and double-bass drumming from new member Scott Travis. This album represents one of the heaviest and most intense in the band's discography. Judas Priest also released two albums with Tim 'Ripper' Owens following Rob Halford's departure. “Jugulator” (1997) was given mixed reviews, although it contains the epic "Cathedral Spires" which became one of Ripper's more popular songs. “Demolition” (2001) was generally considered another disappointment, although holding some memorable tracks.
Judas Priest's “Angel of Retribution” (2005), which was Rob Halford's first Judas Priest album since 1990, contributed to the current revival of classic heavy metal. The latest installment in the Judas Priest discography, “Nostradamus” was released in June 2008. The double-CD/triple-LP concept album details the life of the 16th century French prophet Michel de Nostredame. The style is mostly slow to mid-paced heavy metal, though some songs (particularly the title track) still display the band's trademark speed metal sound.