Best Judas Priest Albums

The legendary Judas Priest formed back in 1970. They started down the road to success with the addition of vocalist Rob Halford in 1973. Their debut album Rocka Rolla was released in 1974. Their most successful decade was the '80s, with numerous best-selling albums and MTV video airplay.

Halford left the band in 1992 to pursue solo projects, and Priest released two studio albums with Tim "Ripper" Owens that received mixed reviews. Halford would rejoin the band in 2003, and they have seen a lot of success since his return. Longtime guitarist K.K. Downing, a founding member, left the band in 2011 and was replaced by Richie Faulkner.

Priest have released some of metal's most iconic albums in their long and productive career. Narrowing down their massive catalog to the five best albums was a challenging feat. Here are our picks for Judas Priest's best albums.

of 05

British Steel (1980)

Judas Priest - British Steel
Judas Priest - British Steel.

1980 was a watershed year for metal that would also see the release of classic albums from bands such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Motorhead. British Steel helped push the band to the so-called "next level." It's Priest at their finest, containing smashes like "Breaking The Law" and "Living After Midnight" along with other songs that have become staples of their live act such as "Grinder" and "Metal Gods."

British Steel saw the band leaving more experimental music behind and going for the arena rock anthems that Halford sings so well. There's not a bad song on this album.

of 05

Hell Bent For Leather (1979)

Judas Priest - Hell Bent For Leather
Judas Priest - Hell Bent For Leather.

There weren't any big singles from this album, but it is one of their more intense efforts. Halford's vocals sound great and there are some gothic and progressive influences to their sound.

Hell Bent For Leather (released as Killing Machine in England in 1978) saw the introduction of Halford's trademark leather-clad look. They also do a great cover version of Fleetwood Mac's "Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)." It was the band's last album with drummer Les Binks.

of 05

Screaming For Vengeance (1982)

Judas Priest - Screaming For Vengeance
Judas Priest - Screaming For Vengeance.

The best known song from Screaming For Vengeance is "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," but there are several other great songs including the title track, "Electric Eye" and "Bloodstone."

Halford sounds great as usual, and Screaming For Vengeance is one of Priest's most well-rounded albums, and one many consider their best. It was also their most commercially successful in the U.S., going double platinum.

of 05

Defenders Of The Faith (1984)

Judas Priest - Defenders Of The Faith
Judas Priest - Defenders Of The Faith.

This is the first Judas Priest album that I can remember listening to when it was still current. The most memorable song from Defenders Of The Faith is "Love Bites." "Some Heads Are Gonna Roll" also got some radio and video play.

Defenders Of The Faith is an album packed with anthems and a power ballad or two. The guitar work of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton is always great, but they really shine on this album.

of 05

Painkiller (1990)

Judas Priest - Painkiller
Judas Priest - Painkiller.

After ending the eighties with a couple of less than well received albums (1986's Turbo and 1988's Ram It Down), Judas Priest started the '90s on a high note. Painkiller would be the last Rob Halford Priest album for more than a decade, and the metal god gave a great vocal performance on this release.

New drummer Scott Travis gave Priest a shot of energy, and that combined with the usual stellar guitar work from Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing made this the band's best album in years.