Fan poll: Top 5 JUDAS PRIEST albums | Revolver

Fan poll: Top 5 JUDAS PRIEST albums

See which NWOBHM classic came out on top
judas priest 1984 GETTY, Paul Natkin/Getty Images
Judas Priest's Rob Halford and Glenn Tipton, 1984
photograph by Paul Natkin/Getty Images

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Judas Priest are at this point the longest-running band in metal history. Since forming way back in 1969(!), the NWOBHM giants have released a whopping 18 studio albums — all but two featuring the Metal God himself, Rob Halford, on the mic.

There're other bands in their echelon with a similar album count (Iron Maiden and Megadeth each boast 18 and 16, respectively), but the overall quality of Judas Priest's output — and the fact that some of their best material arrived eight-plus albums deep into their career — is a huge factor in securing their titanic legacy.

We asked our readers to pick the band's single greatest album. See the top five vote-getters ranked accordingly below.

5. Sad Wings of Destiny

Judas Priest's 1976 sophomore album, Sad Wings of Destiny, was pivotal to metal for two reasons. For one, it saw the English giants hone their sound into the careening dragster of rubber-burning riffs and wheelie-popping belts that not only established Priest's sound, but the genre's at large.

And two, it had a totally badass album cover that depicts a fallen angel struggling in a pit of hellish flames, codifying heavy metal's use of religious imagery flipped on its head.

4. Defenders of the Faith

It's hard to imagine a better opening line than "fast and furious, we ride the universe." Judas Priest's 1984 ramrod, Defenders of the Faith, marked their ninth record as a band, but the British legends were still "freewheel burning" on this beastly asphalt-assailant of an album.

Halford and Co. weren't trying to reinvent the wheel on the Screaming for Vengeance follow-up, they were just gripping it tight and motoring through another 50 minutes of mammoth metal. It rips hard all these years later.

3. Screaming for Vengeance

By 1982, Judas Priest were kingpins of the NWOBHM, but Screaming for Vengeance was the album that made their presence known across the pond.

Boasting all-time Priest standouts like "Electric Eye" and "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," the band's eighth record displayed their increasing knack for fusing ballistic riffage with glass-raising melodies. To wit, it charted at No. 17 on the Billboard 200.

2. British Steel

Over time, British Steel has become the most popular Judas Priest album. It's the one with "Breaking the Law" and "Living After Midnight" on it, after all — the songs that even your grandma knows just from flicking on the radio.

But smash singles aside, it's just a great album overall, and an incredibly important one for laying the speed-metal foundation that myriad thrash bands would make even speedier in the years to come.

1. Painkiller

How many bands released their magnum opus 12 albums deep into their career? Judas Priest might be the only one. The band's 1990 LP, Painkiller, was the last one Rob Halford sang on before taking a hiatus from the group between 1992 and 2005, and he left all he had in the vocal booth recording this thing.

The opening title track features some of the Metal God's most intense shrieking, and his bandmates bring the thunder with scorching guitar solos and drums that careen with the force of a 18-wheeler suffering brake failure. And that's just the first song.

Heavier and more bloodthirsty than Priest's early Eighties records, Painkiller was the band's way of saying, "Hey, we're not the heaviest band on the block anymore, but we can still fuckin' hang." And hang they have. Thirty-plus years onward, Painkiller is still an absolute beast.