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"The Many Faces of Judas Priest" Album Review

I've been an obsessed hard rock & heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.

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Various Artists - "The Many Faces Of Judas Priest"

Music Brokers (Argentina), 2017

Disc 1: "The Many Faces of Judas Priest," 14 tracks

Disc 2: "The Songs," 14 tracks

Disc 3: "Defenders of the British Metal," 12 tracks

It's time to dive into another volume of the irresistibly cheap, sometimes utterly bizarre Many Faces Of... series of triple disc tribute collections, this time honoring the leather and studs metal titans of Judas Priest.

These bargain priced 3-CD sets have become a common sight at Wal-Mart and other big box retailers in recent years, and while some fans of the rock legends chosen for these "tributes" balk at the chintzy packaging or the number of unknown bands/artists in the track listings, the sets are usually priced low enough to make 'em worth risking a few bucks on.

So come on, fellow Priest fans, let's strap on our spiked gauntlets and see what kind of nuggets we can uncover on this triple shot of metallic mayhem!

Disc 1: "The Many Faces Of Judas Priest"

Disc 1 is essentially a "family tree" collection, made up mostly of tracks that feature a former member of Judas Priest, padded out by some seemingly random picks whose connections to the band are tenuous, at best.

I was particularly interested in the two songs by original JP vocalist Al Atkins, whose bluesy rasp is a far cry from Rob Halford's legendary helium highs but it's cool to hear his "alternate" takes on the JP oldies "Winter" and "Never Satisfied," from 1974's Rocka Rolla. This collection could've used more from him.

Two songs from former Yngwie Malmsteen bassist Mick Cervino's band Violent Storm ("Deceiver" and "War No More") are fairly generic '80s style metal, but they feature Priest's K.K. Downing guesting on lead guitar, so their inclusion makes sense. From there on, though, things turn into a game of "Six Degrees of Separation."

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Two tracks by the Spanish metal band "Tigres" apparently earned their spots on this comp due to their association with the late former Priest drummer Dave Holland (1948-2018), who produced their 1986 EP Victimas del Rock. Holland also plays drums on the two tracks of awful disco-fried funk rock pulled from former Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes' 1977 Play Me Out solo debut ("Getting Near To You" and "It's About Time"), which are barely even listenable as comedy.

Alan Moore, another former Priest drummer who played on 1976's Sad Wings of Destiny, appears via two tracks by the obscure '70s British pop band Sundance ("Coming Down" and "Crazy Song") who were hardly even rock, let alone metal. Similarly, the bizarre jazz-rock outfit Hannibal are included here merely because their lone 1970 album was produced by Rodger Bain, who went on to produce JP's Rocka Rolla.

"Annie New Orleans" by Elf (which features a young Ronnie James Dio on vocals) was a pleasant surprise, but it and "Living in a Backstreet" by the Spencer Davis Group (!) are barely related to Priest aside from the production work by Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, who also produced 1977's Sin After Sin for JP.

Don't get me wrong, some of these tracks were fun to listen to, but they have no business being on a Judas Priest compilation as they have nothing to do with the band. Couldn't Music Brokers have tried to dig up something from Glenn Tipton's short lived pre-Priest outfit Flying Hat Band, or Halford's old band Hiroshima? That could have made this disc far more interesting!

Al Atkins - "Winter"

Disc 2: "The Songs"

Thankfully disc 2 lands in more familiar territory, featuring a fistful of Priest songs covered by the high powered likes of Fates Warning (whose "Saints in Hell" is a highlight), Iced Earth ("Screaming For Vengeance" and "The Ripper"), Nevermore ("Love Bites") and As I Lay Dying ("Electric Eye"). Some of these cuts previously appeared on A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal, a 2-volume package released way back in 1996 by Century Media Records. Elsewhere, the unfamiliar Swedish prog-death metal band Witherscape actually dares to cover a song from '86's much maligned synth pop metal experiment Turbo ("Out in the Cold") and they manage to make it work.

Meanwhile, the youthful Wolf kicks "Rocka Rolla" into high gear, and the oddly named Angelus Apatrida (who?) turns in a decent version of "Hell Patrol" from 1990's Painkiller. On the downside, the clownish Six Feet Under growl and burble their way through "Never Satisfied" and "Night Crawler," which are utterly ridiculous wastes of time. Thankfully, Devin Townsend and Strapping Young Lad's ripping version of "Exciter" wipes away the foul taste of SFU's buffoonery. All in all, Disc 2 is a mixed bag with about a 50/50 split between the hits and the misses.

Fates Warning - "Saints In Hell"

Disc 3: "Defenders Of The British Metal"

Disc 3 features mostly-forgotten bands whose only connection to Judas Priest is that they're also British. With that in mind, there is actually some seriously cool, hard to find stuff here. I particularly liked Holosade (whose "Welcome To The Hell House" was bad-ass), and "Despiser" and "Sweet Dream Maker" by Gaskin were pretty sweet listens as well. The fun continues with two cuts ("Emotion" and "Jay") from the ultra-obscure Ace Lane, who released one album in 1983 before vanishing off the face of the earth. "Shout It Out" and "Run To The Angels" by the ridiculously-named Maineeaxe (intentional misspellings are just so gosh darn METAL y'know!) and two songs by NWOBHM casualties Heritage keep the Union Jack flyin' proud, as do the pair of songs by 21 Guns (who feature ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham). I love discovering lost, unknown, unfamiliar metal bands from back in the day, so honestly this disc alone was worth the price of the entire set for me!

Holosade, "Welcome To The Hell House"

Summing It Up

Overall, your mileage will definitely vary on the Many Faces Of series, depending on your level of fan-hood for the artists being "tributed." I'm an obsessed Judas Priest fan-boy so naturally, I couldn't resist checking this set out.

Like the Metallica and Iron Maiden volumes of this series that I've reviewed previously for this site, the collection of NWOBHM/British metal rarities on Disc 3 is going to be the CD I listen to most often out of this triple pack. Perhaps the Music Brokers label should simply compile all the rare goodies from their various metal related tributes into one giant sized NWOBHM box set.

© 2022 Keith Abt

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