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Judas Priest - "Defenders Of The Faith, 1984 (re-release)"
CBS Records 2001

Personally this is my favourite Judas Priest album. "Defenders Of The Faith" is magnificent follower of "Screaming For Vengeance" (1982). Well, it doesn't capture predecessor's overall high exploding energy consisted merely from short effective flaming bombs. On the other hand "Defenders Of The Faith" delivers epic-romantic peak of a band, not only through eighties era, but probably through band's entire career. "Defenders Of The Faith" is on every single corner spiced up with full melodic ornaments and guitar solos crafted with great care and magic feel that worked on even higher level as on "Screaming For Vengeance". Because of the finest manifestation of "ultra melody touches meets band's established raw riff galloping", many Judas Priest fans claim this album as their favourite one and therefore logically, a predecessor's overall improvement. From that point of view, it undoubtedly offers more music and atmospheric shivering charge than its predecessor.

Feel full of sadness is strongly present over the entire record and derives with its grand magic subtlety somewhere from mood consisted out of strong diverse emotions that built high ambient climax as never before. Yearning for lost days touches probably on most sincere way the listener's heart in half-ballad Night Comes Down. Rock Hard Ride Free contains one of the most beautiful assembled choruses written by trio Downing/Halford/Tipton in history of Judas Priest. Fantastic twin harmonized guitar taken on one string opening motif turns fluidly into gutsy pre-chorus riff, but with absolute ambient highlight captured inside dominant chorus. The addition of back vocal harmonies effectively supports spine tingling atmosphere of a chorus. This song is, along with Sentinel, atmospheric and romantic highlight of band's song writing. Both songs are assembled together on such way when everything fits perfectly together. Any rearrangement would only spoil both, because there is nothing left to be improved.

Sentinel, with main master-riff of an absolute ear grabbing effect, contains also something else that makes this song being so special. Tipton/Downing offered here one of the best instrumental middle sections that they ever wrote. I mean, entire solo is divided into seven lead breaks of supreme melody that are constantly exchanging and running supremely fluid between both guitars. K.K. and Glenn even improved what they've mastered on "Screaming For Vengeance". Other highlights that proof twin guitars perfection in instrumental middle eights are also Eat Me Alive, Rock Hard Ride Free and Some Heads Are Gonna Roll. But mid eight in Sentinel beats them all, one by one.

"On full" drumming captures thunderous sound of special wide depth in production, that contributes to the colourful contrast inside whole sound picture. Colourful contrasts are clearly divided and magnified via production. "Defenders Of The Faith" in general is a true masterpiece when having in mind all assembling attributes. It is an album, which crackles out of strong charging high ambient climax and overall high powerful voltage. Priest just found perfect balance of everything.

High dynamics and shivering atmosphere is constantly waving and exchanging through supersonic Freewheel Burning and Jawbreaker, evilized Love Bites and Eat Me Alive, ultra melodic kick offs such as Sentinel, Rock Hard Ride Free and Some Heads Are Gonna Roll, 'till it ends with an anthem, a grand finale, driven through marching pure steel roaming monster Heavy Duty/Defenders Of The Faith.

Remaster has been again obviously upgraded in comparison with its original. All contrasts between instruments and Rob's vocal are divided more clearly. Also all melodic guitar ornaments, bridges played over basic riffs and special sound effects are magnified as well and sounding crisper. Those newly revamped special sound effects are for example Halford's background echo samples in Eat Me Alive and his terrifying laughs in fade out of Love Bites.

Remaster also offers splendid never issued song Turn On Your Light with fantastic acoustic first part driven through plain steel sound. Here it is also possible to hear strumming of the guitar pick over strings which resurrects special mood inside song. Turn On Your Light changes later on into pure rendezvous between acoustic and electric, where Rob's soulful vocal is surely pivotal. Song contains magnificent closing section which is perforated all over with imaginative guitar soloing. Second bonus track is very interesting rare live version of Heavy Duty/Defenders Of The Faith taken from "Defenders Of The Faith" world tour.

Classic Judas Priest made fantastic riffs of band's established trademark and dressed them all over with ultra melodic ornaments on a way that a whole record represents far convincible collision between melody and band's trademark ferocity than on "Screaming For Vengeance". Aggression and feel are both coexisting in a perfect symbiosis. "Fast And Furious, We Ride The Universe. " No doubt... I have nothing more left to say.

Author:   Aleš

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