Judas Priest is an English heavy metal band formed in West Bromwich, West Midlands in 1969. They have sold over 50 million copies of their albums, and are frequently ranked as one of the greatest metal bands of all time. Despite an innovative and pioneering body of work in the latter half of the 1970s, the band had struggled with indifferent record production and a lack of major commercial success until 1980, when they rose to commercial success with the album British Steel.
The band’s membership has seen many turnovers, including a revolving cast of drummers in the 1970s and the departure of singer Rob Halford in 1992. The American singer Tim “Ripper” Owens replaced Halford in 1996 and recorded two albums with Judas Priest before Halford returned to the band in 2003. The current line-up consists of Halford, guitarists Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner, bassist Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis. The band’s best-selling album is 1982’s Screaming for Vengeance, with their most commercially successful line-up featuring Hill, Halford, Tipton, guitarist K. K. Downing, and drummer Dave Holland. Tipton and Hill are the only two members of the band to appear on every album.
Halford’s operatic vocal style and the twin guitar sound of Downing and Tipton have been a major influence on heavy metal bands. Judas Priest’s image of leather, spikes, and other taboo articles of clothing were widely influential during the glam metal era of the 1980s. The Guardian referred to British Steel as the record that defines heavy metal. Despite a decline in exposure during the mid-1990s, the band has once again seen a resurgence, including worldwide tours, being inaugural inductees into the VH1 Rock Honors in 2006, receiving a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2010, and having their songs featured in video games such as Guitar Hero and the Rock Band series. Judas Priest was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2020 class but did not get in. Here are all of Judas Priest’s songs ranked.
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20. One Shot at Glory (Painkiller, 1990)
“The vocals are top-notch. Most underrated Priest song that I can think of. I discovered JP with this song, it’s the definition of awesomeness. Amazing riff, powerful, fast, simply amazing song, it deserves a better position!”
19. Hellrider (Angel of Retribution, 2005)
“Judas Priest came back to the metal scene swinging with this song. All the others needed to know that Judas Priest always will be the kings of metal. Amazing song, the guitar riff I too is immaculate, Halford’s vocals are terrifying and the drums are incredible.”
18. Exciter (Stained Class, 1978)
“Awesome song with great vocals, guitars, and killer, lightning fast drums. This song was also a huge influence on thrash metal, along with songs like overkill and symptom of the universe.”
17. Judas Rising (Angel of Retribution, 2005
“It is easily one of Priest’s most anthemic songs, with an iconic intro, relentless verses, and a perfect build-up to what is by far, Priest’s most definitive chorus. The greatness of Judas Priest’s sonic abilities culminated into one out-of-this-world track. Easily my favourite. Give it a listen. It will be yours too.”
See more: Judas Priest Albums Ranked
16. Freewheel Burning (British Steel, 1980)
“I was truly blown away by the guitars, the vocals, and everything. This song is exciting, has wonderful instrumental skills, and is undoubtedly one of the Judas Priest’s very best songs!”
15. Night Crawler (Painkiller, 1990)
“I hate working out, but this song keeps me running on the treadmill. I am literally headbanging while running! The guitar and vocals just fit so perfectly together, giving an energetic and emotional vibe at the same time.”
14. Dreamer Deceiver (Sad Wings of Destiny, 1976)
“Not just a great song by a great metal band, but a brilliant song on every level. The vocal qualities Halford exhibits in this song, the sheer range, and the transition between a clear, beautiful voice and an artful sneer make this song a classic.”
13. A Touch of Evil (Painkiller, 1990)
“The best Priest song. Every part RIPS, particularly Halford, beginning with menacingly disarming vocals, and later escalating to what I think are his absolute best screaming soars of passionate triumph in any Priest song to date. The ending passages will never fail in making the hairs rise from my neck each listen-through.”
12. Blood Red Skies (Ram It Down, 1988)
“Such epicness is matchless with any other rock or metal song I’ve ever heard. I invite you to read lyrics while listening to it: you’ll be brought there, and become that future legend by dying. It’s fantastic. Really, maybe almost unknown, but their best in my opinion and not only mine – ‘bet a lot will underwrite it.”
11. Turbo Lover (Turbo, 1986)
“Everything’s great, the pacing, the instruments, the vocals, the mix between the two, the progression, and the enjoyment. While different from most Judas Priest songs, it is still a timeless classic to remember.”
10. Hell Bent for Leather (Killing Machine, 1978)
“Love the slow build up the rhythm, great song. This song need’s to be at least on the podium of priest songs., just as I need to listen to this in a fast car, again and again.”
9. Screaming for Vengeance (Screaming for Vengeance, 1982)
“We know there are a lot of frontmen out there who can scream, but for Halford it’s an art and this song, well the title speaks for itself! Awesome!
8. Living After Midnight (British Steel, 1980)
“Live version in the Seminole arena… Just amazing. I love Scott Travis he is a very fast drummer. Great rhythm, great guitars, and super vocals – a famous masterpiece!
7. The Sentinel (Defenders of the Faith, 1984)
“What to say about this true masterpiece of a song! It has it all, great riffs, amazing solos, a great story about a real badass soldier gone awol to avenge his war fallen friends. Halford nails the lyrics! good drumming and good bass. This is what a very high standard of the heavy metal song sounds like!”
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6. You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ (British Steel, 1980)
“Downing and Tipton are perfection. Their guitars propel this song into my all-time number one spot. I never cease to be overwhelmed with emotion each time the opening chords shatter the silence. I love this song.”
5. Victim of Changes (Sad Wings of Destiny, 1976)
“The song demonstrate pleasing vocal, emotion as well as the top guitar solo. This song couraged the listing as well. My view that this song encompasses all the things that a hard rock metal rock listener want from band.”
4. Electric Eye (Screaming for Vengeance, 1982)
“This song is about how governments spy on their citizens, putting an end to privacy and freedom. The moral of the story: We need censorship and mass surveillance to “keep the country clean”.
3. Breaking the Law (British Steel, 1980)
“Judas priest man, tough decision. One thing I can say for sure, WATCH THE VIDEO. Just watch it… holding hostages with guitars… This song just rocks man.”
2. Beyond the Realms of Death (Stained Class, 1978)
“Always been my favorite. Profound lyrics anyone can relate to, its tempo changes along with the subject matter, and the solo is the best. It conveys so much feeling, emotion, and depth. It takes one from sadness to anger then leaves you inspired. Brilliant.”
1. Painkiller (Painkiller, 1990)
“Love this song. Brilliant drum solo from Scott Travis to kick it all off, with Rob Halford’s vocal range, Ian Hill’s bass and Glenn Tipton and KK Downing teaming up together as guitarists to make the song aggressive makes it a inch-perfect song. I think this is one of the last great heavy metal classics, Painkiller.”