Top 10 Judas Priest Post-‘Painkiller’ Songs
Believe it or not, a quarter century has passed since Judas Priest emphatically revitalized an already long and legendary career with 1990’s Painkiller album. But the ensuing years were anything but predictable for the band. They were challenged at every turn, instead, with personal recriminations, solo projects and personnel replacements, until a nervous truce could finally be struck and a triumphant return accomplished. And so, it was with this intriguing sequence of events in mind that we set out to compile the Top 10 Judas Priest Post-Painkiller Songs, which includes highlights from some of Rob Halford‘s side projects.
‘I Am a Pig’
The lingering shock over Halford’s departure from Judas Priest following the Painkiller tour was likely only intensified by his subsequent left-field experiments with 2wo. This short-lived industrial music side project, which followed two early-’90s albums with Priest drummer Scott Travis as Fight, is nevertheless credited with addressing Halford’s long-hidden homosexuality via a provocative 2wo video for “I Am a Pig.”
A legendary French prophet of yore, Nostradamus apparently didn’t forecast his central role in sparking Priest’s 16th studio effort — or that it would be so lengthy. Still, despite its somewhat attention-challenging duration, Nostradamus yielded two tracks on our list of the Top 10 Judas Priest Post-Painkiller Songs, including the foreboding and doom-like “Death.”
‘Nailed to the Gun’
Halford’s first order of business after splitting with Judas Priest was to indulge his undisguised Pantera fixation. The forceful “Nailed to the Gun,” from Fight’s debut album, best illustrates the band’s modern thrash/groove metal feel.
Of course, no one could completely replace Halford at the helm of Judas Priest. Still, Tim “Ripper” Owens certainly had a go at it. A former tribute band singer, Owens possessed a pair of iron lungs, as heard on the excellent “Bloodsuckers.”
‘Made in Hell’
Arguably the finest hour of the Ripper Owens period and the mid-point of our list of the Top 10 Judas Priest Post-Painkiller Songs, “Cathedral Spires” scaled back some of that lineup’s uncharacteristically relentless (and, at times, borderline atonal) thrash metal assault. At the same time, it embraced Judas Priest’s more familiarly melodic metal heritage to the tune of nine awesome moments of epic grandeur. It was almost enough to convince allegiance-torn Priest fans that this temporary new singer arrangement might actually work.
‘Redeemer of Souls’
Judas Priest came roaring back as if nothing had changed some six years after its most recent studio effort, four years after announcing (and then reneging on) a farewell tour and three years beyond the retirement of founding guitarist K.K. Downing. The title track from the group’s 17th album marked a steadfast resurrection of Judas Priest’s vintage sound — unbowed, timeless and steel-plated.
With Angel of Retribution, Judas Priest successfully soldered a modern recording aesthetic onto their archetypal heavy metal, coming away with stunning songs like “Deal with the Devil,” “Angel” and the spectacular “Demonizer” — which also cribbed nostalgic words from past favorites like Painkiller and The Hellion for good measure.
Many younger listeners may have found it difficult to stay focused for the hour-plus needed to arrive at this album’s satisfyingly cathartic title track. But, boy, did they get their money’s worth for their patience: This is a modern-day Judas Priest anthem of almost unprecedented majesty, wed to the formidable power of the Painkiller album that inspired this list.
There is little doubt that this song ignited the greatest excitement of any in the post-Painkiller era. An absolute scorcher, the opening cut from Judas Priest’s long-awaited 2005 Halford reunion album ignites spine-tingling chills, harnessing all of the band’s best-loved hallmarks. As such, “Judas Rising” earns the No. 1 spot in our list of the Top 10 Judas Priest Post-Painkiller Songs.