April 14, 1980. Judas Priest unleashes British Steel on the world, and the world–of ’80s rock and heavy metal, in particular–is never the same.
British Steel isn’t just Judas Priest’s defining album, it’s a genre-defining album, and one of the most important heavy metal albums ever released. And because of those facts, you’re probably aware of some of the other facts. The band’s 1979 tour with AC/DC inspired the album in part. It was the first Priest album to feature Dave Holland on drums. The band recorded themselves smashing milk bottles to sample in “Breaking The Law.” The list goes on.
Again, the facts are out there and have been well-known by fans for decades. Let’s focus, instead, on what a force of nature the band was in the early ’80s. Flash-forward two years: British Steel‘s success helped set the band up for 1982’s Screaming For Vengeance, and a tour stop in L.A. that led to one of the greatest live metal moments of all-time.
The band comes on stage while playing the opening riffs of “Electric Eye.” Rob Halford is nowhere to be seen, but he can be heard singing the song’s opening lines. The camera picks him up backstage, making his way past the crew, mic in hand, still belting out lyrics. Then, with perfect timing, he emerges: “I’m made of metal!” And indeed he is, in full regalia, complete with bullwhip. Just a legendary performance by the Metal God. All hail!