Review Summary: Another one of Priest's overrated affairs, Defenders of the Faith is far inferior to its predecessor Screaming for Vengeance.
After extensive touring following the release of one of their most successful albums, Screaming for Vengeance
, Judas Priest recorded follow-up Defenders of the Faith
, which was released in 1984. The album features essentially the same approach as its predecessor, combining elements of both Priest’s mainstream and heavy metal sound. Defenders is the heavier of the two, and more on the heavy metal side of the fence that Screaming. Faster-paced and more energetic than any album before in the most part, Priest’s 8th studio album was even a sign of what was going to come on Ram It Down
, and further improved on Painkiller
: speed metal. It’s cover art depicts their second metal messiah, The Metallion
, which is strikingly similar in design to The Hellion
from SFV, a reason, along with the similar stylistic approach, why the two albums are often seen as brothers.
Defenders of the Faith’s Judas Priest was:
- Robert John Arthur Halford ~ Vocals
- Kenneth Downing Jr. ~ Lead Guitar
- Glenn Raymond Tipton ~ Lead Guitar
- Ian Frank Hill ~ Bass Guitar
- David Holland ~ Drums
The heaviness and tempo compared to its predecessor is apparent from the start. Opener Freewheel Burning
is an energetic and speedy highlight, with a hyperactive performance from Halford and excellent guitar harmonisations (which are strong throughout the album), with Jawbreaker
and others following it in the same direction. The Sentinel
varies its tempo nicely though, and also Night Comes Down
is a slower, more laidback effort. Rock Hard Ride Free
is the only real mainstream song on Defenders, as its title already suggests.
The first half of Defenders is far stronger than the second. Especially the first four songs are all highlights. The aforementioned Freewheel Burning and Jawbreaker start things off nicely, and Rock Hard Ride Free is just as fun despite being a pretty cheesy hard rock song. The only weak link in the first half is Love Bites
, which is too generic, as well as cheesy, to stand out. As for cheese, DOTF was lyrically Priest’s cheesiest release up to that point. Luckily, this is not as bothersome as on records that would follow.
Though the second half gets a good start with the fun Eat Me Alive
, the music doesn’t really get going as much, unfortunately. Night Comes Down might be a nice change in tempo, it just as much fails too keep attention. Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
is, like (Take These) Chains
, written by Bob Halligan, and has a glam rock feel like its counterpart. It is the better of the two, but not particularly memorable due to its repetitiveness. Even Heavy Duty
and the title track fail to close off the album on a high note, seeming more made to play live than suited for the studio, and do not leave the listener with a fulfilled experience.
Despite being widely praised as one of Priest’s record, Defenders of the Faith misses consistency with a uninteresting second half that becomes its downfall. With more memorable songs like Screaming for Vengeance, it could have been an excellent, or even superb Priest album. Failing to live up to its reputation, Defenders is still a good record, but more Screaming for Vengeance’s inferior brother than anything else.
+ The first half of the album
+ Excellent guitar harmonisations
- The second half makes the album rather inconsistent
Eat Me Alive