Reflections: 50 Heavy Metal Years of Music

Reflections: 50 Heavy Metal Years of Music

“It’s a bit like going into the Judas Priest museum of metal.” That’s what Priest vocalist Rob Halford says about the band’s career-spanning box set 50 Heavy Metal Years of Music. While the massive 42-disc collection includes all of the beloved heavy metal band’s studio and live albums alongside a treasure trove of unreleased material, the stand-alone Reflections compilation, distilled to a lean 16 tracks, avoids the obvious hits to reveal the depth and nuance of Judas Priest’s impressive catalogue over the course of five decades and countless cultural shifts and trends. “We wanted to make something really special for our fans that laid out a slightly different perspective of the work we’ve been creating for the last 50 years,” the Metal God tells Apple Music. “The feeling was that we wanted to do something a little bit out of the ordinary. The result is a very special one-off experience.” Below, he details some key tracks. “Let Us Prey / Call for the Priest” “This is from the [1977] Sin After Sin album, our first endeavour with a big, worldwide label. It's like a rallying cry or a battle cry, if you will. It's calling all the metal forces together and pulling them into focus. Priest’s great journey through the decades is about to proceed. It’s a great opening sequence to prepare you for what's coming next.” “You Don't Have to Be Old to Be Wise” “The [1980] British Steel album has obvious choices like ‘Living After Midnight’ and ‘Breaking the Law’. As great and as iconic as those tracks are, ‘You Don’t Have to Be Old to Be Wise’ is pretty potent in terms of a message. ‘I grow sick and tired of the same old lies’ is a reference to youth seeing the way forward, but it’s also just a really cool song. In the broad aspect of British Steel, this has a really cool groove that resonates—especially the chorus sequence.” “Fever” “This is from [1982’s] Screaming for Vengeance, and the great thing about these particular tracks is that they show you the variety of textures that Priest has always been seeking out. We’re still a band that’s really hard to pin down. We are a heavy metal band, first and foremost, but as far as where we're going to take you, anything can really happen. And that includes going into this very sexy, ethereal type of vibe. ‘Fever’ is an unusual song, especially when it breaks open in the middle section. From my angle, the vocal texture is kind of a seeking moment.” “Eat Me Alive” “The lyrics from yours truly came from a drunken night in Ibiza, in the old town, and staggering back to the studio and deciding to do some work—which can either pay off or turn into a car wreck. But the song itself is extremely potent. It’s almost got a kind of comic caricature aspect to it, like Squid Game. And this song has that kind of graphic noir texture, lyrically. But I just love the structure of the song—it’s a relentless, in-your-face piece of music, with quite a complex arrangement.” “All Guns Blazing” “The [1990] Painkiller album is special in a lot of ways. We’d just come out of a very difficult time, and yet we were still determined to reinforce that we believed in ourselves musically. We wanted to see if we had the chops to make a relentless, potent heavy metal album, from the first track to the last. And I think ‘All Guns Blazing’ is a statement for the whole record. It’s full of metal ferocity, and it’s really about the attitude of the metal community. It’s a very tough rallying cry for Priest—and for metal.” “Never the Heroes” “Throughout Priest's history, there are two parameters: hooks and melodies. We've always understood that having a strong hook in a song is vital. And it's not easy to get them—you have to work at it, even when you’ve been doing this for decades. With the [2018] Firepower album, we felt we wanted to make songs that were an overview of the classic qualities of Priest, and that’s what ‘Never the Heroes’ is about musically. But it’s also got a very deep lyric about the atrocities of war and people that are drawn into that experience.” “Out in the Cold” (Live) “Throughout the [1986] Turbo album, we utilised the dreaded guitar synthesiser and put it to its best abilities. We were one of the first bands to have one delivered to us while we were recording out in Marbella, Spain. I remember Glenn [Tipton] was playing around with those notes that open up ‘Out in the Cold’ and I said, ‘That’s the sound.’ It’s such a melancholy, atmospheric song that talks about something we’ve all been through in terms of relationships, where you can’t sleep because you’re wondering where somebody is at night.” “Victim of Changes” (Live at the Agora Theatre, Cleveland, 1978) “That was one of the very first songs that Priest put together. I’ve always said that it’s definitive of Priest and definitive of our metal. First, it starts with those dual guitars, which was one of the first times in metal you’d have heard that. Then you’ve got this thundering, relentless riff that kicks in. Then you’ve got the story, the breakdown sequence, and a glorious lead from Glenn. And then the outro is thundering metal riffage. You’ve got all of those layers in one tune. It’s one of our ultimate statements.” “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown)” (Live from Hammersmith, London, 1981) “This was a follow-on from the great experience that we had with the Joan Baez song ‘Diamonds and Rust’. Our label was able to get us traction in American rock radio with that particular track, so we were seeking other chances to cover great pieces of music. We’re all great Fleetwood Mac fans—especially with the late, great Peter Green. There’s a bunch of early Fleetwood Mac songs that were just crying out for a metal attack, and we put our boots all over this one. We recently played this in Kentucky, and Kirk Hammett came out to join us because it’s one of Metallica’s favourites as well.” “Beyond the Realms of Death” (Live at the Mudd Club, New York, 1979) “I always love when we have a more textured delivery—whether it's ‘Beyond the Realms of Death’ or ‘Last Rose of Summer’ or any number of those Priest songs where we kind of dial it down a little bit. This song really references the adventure you can have with that type of emotion. It’s a beautiful song, the way it starts so delicately. And then it picks up into those really big grooves before another glorious Tipton lead break. Lyrically, it’s got a strong emotional message with an anti-suicide theme: You’ve had enough, you can’t take anymore, but you’ve got to push beyond the realms of death and stay alive.”

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