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 1. Black Sabbath



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If Black Sabbath planted the seeds of metal, their demon offspring Judas Priest made sure the vitriolic blossoms continued to flourish in fresh, exciting ways.

Between 1974 and 1990, Judas Priest — who arose from the same part of England as Sabbath and even shared a rehearsal space with them in the early days — were the keepers of the metal crown, writing songs that were slick as leather and sharp as spikes. Their mid-tempo sound — a surging mix of gleaming guitars, thundering beats and vocals that vaulted from fiery scowls to operatic howls — is custom-designed for headbanging. And their twin-axe attack gives them enormous flexibility: At any given point in a song, guitarists Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing can create a dense, impenetrable wall of sound, play flashy guitar harmonies or work in tandem where one provides grinding rhythm while the other solos.

But most of all it is singer Rob Halford who brings the magic to Priest, with a menacing wail that has been often copied but never duplicated. In his songs, Halford addresses themes of self-empowerment, liberation and revenge — and when he screams for vengeance, he looks the part.

Indeed, Judas Priest's biker-bar stagewear, which the band adopted around the release of 1978's Hell Bent for Leather, shaped metal fashion in the '80s. Clad in studded leather and brandishing their instruments like weapons, the members were a vision of danger and devastation— and the band's shows traditionally culminate with Halford coming onstage for the encore astride a roaring motorcycle.

Ironically, Halford was depicted throughout the '80s as a ladykiller, and was frequently photographed with buxom models draped around his shoulders. But in 1998, about seven years after years after he left Judas Priest, he publicly admitted his homosexuality. Fortunately, there was no backlash, and when Halford rejoined the band in July 2003, new and old fans embraced his return. Priest's performance on Ozzfest in 2004 was one of the highlights of the festival, and the band kept the momentum flowing by returning to the studio and releasing a new album, Angel of Retribution, in 2005. Judas Priest are currently in the studio working on their next LP, an epic concept album about the life of legendary soothsayer Nostradamus. In 2007, the screaming will begin anew.




Stained Class (1977), Hell Bent for Leather (1978), British Steel (1980), Point of Entry (1981), Screaming for Vengeance (1982), The Essential Judas Priest (retrospective).





"I still get giddy when we go on tour with Priest. I think they have a really unique two-guitar attack. Glenn Tipton's probably the most underrated guitar player in existence — he's just stunning. And K.K. Downing was a master of the dive bomb, so you'd probably say I patterned myself more after K.K. There's a little bit of both of them in [my style]. And they're just great f---ing dudes. I still clam up around them." — Kerry King, Slayer

"Real metal for me is Judas Priest, because they don't have any other qualities except metal. They're just pure, 100-percent metal, whereas a band like Metallica has gone through stages where they weren't so metal." — Michael Amott, Arch Enemy

"The first Priest tune I ever heard was 'Painkiller' when I was, like, 10 years old, and it just blew me away. That whole album is still one of the best metal albums ever. I was hooked, and it wasn't until five years later that I even heard their earlier stuff. Probably my number-one metal moment was when I got to play 'Living After Midnight' with the metal god himself, Rob Halford, in Japan." — Alexi Laiho, Children of Bodom




"#2 through #9 could be switched around in any order" according to Gary from Pennsylvania. Line up your order and check out other reader lists. You tell us!




NEXT: Pantera's Vinnie Paul says of this group, 'They were a band to measure your accomplishments by.' ...
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