Note: The review is a kind of an experiment. I will say a lot of bad things about this album, but I don’t mean all of it. I actually kind of like the album, but I still think it’s a bit overrated. So take this review with a grain of salt. Also note that I’m reviewing the European version, which begins with Rapid Fire instead of Breaking The Law.
1980 was one of the greatest years in music. Iron Maiden
released their self-titled debut album, Motörhead
released “Ace Of Spades”, The Cure
released “Seventeen Seconds” and Joy Division
released “Closer” (which is my favourite album of all-time) . But at the same time, it was a pretty bad year. Ian Curtis (Joy Division) committed suicide, John Lennon (The Beatles
) got shot by a crazed fan, and John Bonham (Led Zeppelin
) and Bon Scott (AC/DC
) died from alcohol abuse. And not only that’s bad about 1980. In that same year “British Steel” by Judas Priest was released!
“British Steel” is one of the most overrated metal albums of all time. Don’t get me wrong, I like Judas Priest. Albums like “Sad Wings Of Destiny” and “Defenders Of The Faith” are superb. But this is an overrated piece of crap. It’s often seen as the album which defined heavy metal. Well, in my opinion that is “Screaming For Vengeance”, that album just SCREAMS heavy metal. There even was a documentary made for “British Steel” in 2001, which it really didn’t deserve! And why, you may ask? Well, just read on further…
The cover art of “British Steel” is pretty neat, because the Judas Priest logo is actually a part of the cover art. All other album covers before and after added the logo as a separate element from the artwork, like “Defenders Of The Faith”, where it is in the top right corner. But you can’t judge a book by the cover, so on to the music.
The album opens with Rapid Fire
. It’s a mediocre opener and not as memorable, energetic and spectacular as Freewheel Burning
and The Hellion/Electric Eye
. The beginning of this song is pretty decent, with it’s fast drumming and riffs, but then it just plods along and gets pretty tedious.
Then we have Metal Gods
. The lyrics are obviously about themselves, as Judas Priest are often called “The Metal Gods”. The song is pretty dull and the lyrics are cheesy. The chorus is pretty bad, it’s just saying Metal Gods
two times. Also, the way the chorus is sung really annoys me. It sounds so monotonous, like Rob Halford has a cold or something.
Breaking The Law
is the most overrated metal song of all time in my opinion. The riff is decent, but the chorus is so bad. It’s just shouting Breaking The Law
eight times in a row! Come on, be creative… Their songwriting really sucked on this album, period. And you know what sucks even more? There isn’t a guitar solo anywhere in the whole song! It’s just the same riff played all over again. I just can’t get over that. I mean, every heavy metal song has a great guitar solo in it. Okay, you may say now: “It’s a short song, so there isn’t one in it”. But even the song Dissident Aggressor
(from their album Sin After Sin), which is almost as long as this song, has a guitar solo! You know what they have instead of one? Sounds of a police siren and a crash… If you have two guitarists in your band, then every song should have a guitar solo! They had no excuse not to have one in it!
The video of this song is also pretty crappy. They try to rob a bank with guitars, and they succeed! The people in the bank are so scared. That’s just so stupid. Yeah, just try to rob a bank with your guitar in real-life… The people won’t give a *** if you’d do that! It’s not THAT easy to rob a bank! And even though the security guard sees them, he doesn’t do anything to stop them. After a while he picks up a cardboard V-neck guitar (to play along with the song), but they made a stupid mistake: They had placed the “V” upside down! Did the designers of that guitar even knew what a V-neck guitar looked like? Okay, enough complaining, on to the rest of the tracks.
is probably the best song on this album music-wise, it’s heavy (even for today), has great riffs and A GUITAR SOLO! Yup, this is heavy metal… But the song is totally ruined by the lyrics, which are cheesy as hell (Grinder, looking for meat/Grinder, wants you to eat
)! The way Rob Halford sings (he kind of growls) this song sents shivers down my spine, and that’s in a bad way. It just sounds so macho-like. And I hate that. One line in this song is Got no use for routine/I shiver at the thought
. Well, this whole album is a routine! Cheesy lyrics, not so great vocals, tedious drumming… But I’ll get to that later when I review the band members.
Then we have United
, by far the worst song on this album. I just cannot listen to it. It’s cheesy as hell, it’s not heavy, hasn’t a guitar solo… It’s just a pop song! They’ve even played this one on Top Of The Pops, which they should be ashamed of. They’re a metal band for God’s sake! The song is meant to be catchy, (and they succeed,) yet it’s catchy in a bad way, it’s annoying as hell! Just listen to the lyrics of the chorus: United, united, united we stand/United we never shall fall/United, united, united we stand/United we stand one and all
. When I first heard it, I couldn’t get it out of my head for nearly a month. It really gets on my nerves. It’s really a torture to listen to!
I think they wanted more variety on the album by adding this song on it. Well, then make a ballad (like Metallica
did a few times (with One
and Fade To Black
), and that worked out pretty well), but NOT a pop song!!!
I’ll skip the next track, You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wild
(it’s not worth talking about that one), and I’m going to the next one, Living After Midnight.
Living After Midnight
may first sound like a decent, rocking song, but then you’ll notice that the melody of the chorus is from another song! It has to be! The chorus of this song is: Living after midnight/Rocking to the dawn/Loving ‘til the morning/Then I’m gone, I’m gone
. And you know what song this melody is from? It’s from Don’t Stop
by Fleetwood Mac
! The chorus of that song is: Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow/Don't stop, it'll soon be here/It'll be, better than before/Yesterday's gone, yesterday’s gone
. That gone-part looks similar, isn’t it? Come on, Judas Priest, be creative. The song sounds quite poppy this way, and you know what’s even worse? The song fades out at the end! Come on, just make a proper ending to the song!!
Well, the rest is just filler. I don’t want to talk about those songs, it would be a waste of time.
I kind of reviewed all of the tracks, now I’ll review the band members. Rob Halford is one of the most talented vocalists ever, yet he doesn’t do any high-pitched screams on here. He just speaks the lyrics rather than singing them. The drumming is kept simple, which makes it pretty tedious to listen to. That’s really a shame for a talented drummer like Dave Holland. Also, the guitar solos aren’t really spectacular like in Electric Eye
. And that’s such a shame, because the best thing about Judas Priest is, in my opinion, the dual guitar attack of guitarists Glen Tipton and K.K. Downing. And that ’guitar attack’ isn’t really present on this album. Then we have bass player Ian Hill. Well, I can’t really comment on him. He just does the bassing.
This album sucks. Every song on this album is based on a catchy riff, hook or chorus, but that doesn’t always make a song (let alone an album) good. It’s such a shame they toned down their songwriting, because Judas Priest consists of very talented musicians. This album really lacks creativity and sounds too commercial. Every other metal band could make an album like this. I mean, if your band is capable of writing songs like Victim Of Changes
and Electric Eye
, then why do you have to write simpler, cheesier songs? Okay, the album was successful (it was on 34 in the pop charts and went platinum), but “Screaming For Vengeance” was even more successful and that one had better songwriting and a much heavier sound than this one. This album sounds more like a pop/rock record than a heavy metal one. Well, the album has one decent song music-wise (Grinder), and there you have it. The rest just sucks. Avoid this album at all costs. Luckily Judas Priest improved themselves hugely after this one.