Judas Priest – Defenders of the Faith Special 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Defenders of the Faith is one of Judas Priest’s most well-rounded albums, and a stalwart anchor in the band’s massive metal catalog. Perhaps that is why bassist and co-founder Ian Hill once told me it was his favorite Priest record. Next month Defenders of the Faith will receive a 30th anniversary reboot, with a special 3-disc release. Sure it’s a year late, but the band was a bit busy in 2014 releasing its best album in years, Redeemer of Souls, before heading out to the highway to jam it in our collective craniums.
The wait is worth it. Not only did original producer, Tom Allom return to re-master the 10 track beast of vintage 80s metal, the band have added a 2-disc live tour commemoration album to the package. With three decades of new music in the books, it might be easy to overlook the power and impact of Defenders of the Faith, but a spin through the re-mastered edition is a heady reminder of how massive this record was, and is.
The record opened with the driving power of “Freewheel Burning”, which begins a relentless journey through an album packed with huge metal classics and live staples like “Jawbreaker”, “The Sentinel”, “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll”, “Rock Hard Ride Free” and “Love Bites”. The latter was included on the recent Redeemer of Souls tour, as were the album’s final tracks, “Heavy Duty” and Defenders of the Faith”.
One of the record’s lesser known gems is “Night Comes Down”, which has become tragically lost amongst the stadium anthems, but is a track which reaches back into Judas Priest’s vintage 70’s style. Finally there is “Eat Me Alive”. A blue print Priest rocker that once had the PMRC up in arms, calling it an ode to forced oral copulation at gunpoint. Ah, the good old days.
Once fans are done reveling in the historic and seminal album, they can put on the bonus discs from the Defenders of the Faith tour. The 21-track set was recorded at Long Beach Arena in May, 1984. The show includes a performance of every song on Defenders with the exception of “Eat Me Alive”. As a trivia side-note, “Eat Me Alive” would eventually be performed live for the first time on the band’s tour in support of the 2008 Nostradamus album. The remaining 12 songs covered the band’s then catalog of hits from their seminal works, Screaming for Vengeance, British Steel and Point of Entry, as well as vintage 70’s masterpieces like “Sinner”, “Victim of Changes” and “The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)”.
This re-mastered set is worth owning if only for the classic 1984 concert, but one spin through the Defenders of the Faith Special 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition and you can’t help but fall in love with it all over again and discover the nuances you may have missed so many years before.