Home Read Classic Album Review: Judas Priest | Metalogy

Classic Album Review: Judas Priest | Metalogy

The Metal Gods' career-spanning box set is impressive, but comes up a bit short.

This came out in 2004 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Plenty of bands influenced the sound of heavy metal — but I would argue that nobody influenced its look more than Judas Priest. Red leather pants and biker caps, studded wristbands and mirrored aviator shades, Harley-Davidsons and riding crops; for better or worse, it all started with Rob Halford and Priest.

So it’s no surprise that the makers of the new five-disc box set Metalogy comes covered in leather and wrapped in metal studs. Hell, you’d expect no less from the Metal Gods. But you might also expect a definitive musical experience to go along with that cool packaging — and that, much as I hate to say it, is where this $80 retrospective comes up just a wee bit short.

The reason I hate to say it is because whoever put this together obviously laboured over it — and had to jump through a heap of hoops to get the job done. The 65-song set collects material from no less than four different record labels, tracing the trajectory of Priest’s three-decade career from 1974’s Rocka Rolla to 2001’s Demolition (featuring Halford’s replacement Tim “Ripper” Owens). The four audio discs cherry-pick tracks from vitually every studio album. The set list includes all the expected essentials: Hell Bent For Leather, Living After Midnight, Metal Gods, You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’, Freewheel Burning, Some Heads Are Gonna Roll, and plenty more where they came from.

So what’s wrong? Well, the same things that are wrong with most box sets that aim to be definitive: Something always gets missed. In this case, the most glaring (and unforgivable) omission is The Ripper, from 1976’s seminal Sad Wings Of Destiny. Though I’d also argue for the inclusion of Rock Forever from 1979’s Hell Bent For Leather. And the title track from 1974’s Rocka Rolla. And … well, you get the idea. Doubtless, every Priest fan will find one favourite track overlooked here (if not more).

Plus, the set has a habit of substituting live recordings for studio cuts. So if you’re looking for the original versions of Victim Of Changes, Breaking The Law, Grinder, Hot Rockin’ and others, you won’t find them. And while most of these live cuts are supposedly rarities and B-sides, so what? I mean, it’s not like live Priest recordings are tough to come by. Hell, they even include the entire gig from 1982’s Screaming For Vengeance on the DVD in the box. Finally, as for the one studio bonus cut — a demo of Heart Of A Lion — it’s OK but hardly worth the price of admission.

Don’t get me wrong; even with its faults, Metalogy is easily the best Judas Priest box set that’s ever been produced. It’s just too bad that it’s not the best one that could have been produced.