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Judas Priest’s Rob Halford: My 10 Favorite Metal Albums

Singer shouts out classics ranging from Motörhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ to ‘Black Sabbath’

Judas Priest Singer Rob Halford's 10 Favorite Metal Albums

Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford picks his 10 favorite metal albums, which include LPs by Black Sabbath, Slayer and Metallica.

Steve Jennings/WireImage.com

It’s impossible to overstate Judas Priest‘s importance to the evolution of metal. The band formed about a year after Black Sabbath and by the late-Seventies, they’d given the genre a makeover with a twin-guitar assault, faster tempos and a black-leather look that would forever change the way metalheads dressed.

“Other bands like Motörhead and Deep Purple had one guitar player and they were doing different things, more of a layering thing, but when it came to Judas Priest, they had the guitarists coming together and playing the same riff,” Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich recently told Rolling Stone of their importance. “It just doubled up and gave it a heavier, bigger sound and made it thicker and more immersive.”

Moreover, Judas Priest helped pioneer a lot of the topics metal songs address. Their dynamic, motorcycle-riding frontman, Rob Halford, wrote frank lyrics about depression (“Beyond the Realms of Death”), fighting for your beliefs (the thrash precursor “Dissident Aggressor”) and realizing there is more to the world than what what’s readily apparent (“Exciter”) – all before the Seventies were over. With the release of 1980’s British Steel – the Number Three album on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Metal Albums list, which also includes their Screaming for Vengeance and Stained Class LPs – he announced himself and his bandmates as “Metal Gods,” and the band brought the genre to the mainstream, scoring indelible, supercharged hits like “Breaking the Law,” “Heading Out to the Highway” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming,” and wowing headbangers with massive concert productions. In the early Nineties, Halford left Priest and moved in a heavier direction with his band Fight; he returned to Priest in the early 2000s and has been recording and touring with the band ever since. 

Because of Halford’s importance to the genre, Rolling Stone reached out to him while making the 100 Greatest Metal Albums to see his personal top 10. He kindly emailed a list with a few words about each one and why it’s important to him and to metal.

He’ll also be discussing his list today on Rolling Stone Music Now on Sirius XM’s Volume channel at 1 p.m.; the show and interview will also come out later as a podcast. Until then, here are his 10 favorite metal albums.

Photo of MOTORHEAD (Photo by Pete Cronin/Redferns)

Motörhead, ‘Ace of Spades’ (1980)

This is a hardcore roar of wild bombastic fuck

Slipknot during Pledge Of Allegiance Concert in San Jose at Compaq Center in San Jose, California, United States. (Photo by J. Shearer/WireImage)

Slipknot, ‘Slipknot’ (1999)

When this came out, it
was nu-metal pent-up rage searing a whole new era.

UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: HIGH WYCOMBE Photo of EMPEROR, Posed group portrait L-R Samoth (Tomas Haugen) and Ihsahn (Vegard Sverre Tveitan) (Photo by Naki/Redferns)

Emperor, ‘Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk’ (1997)

I love this because
it’s sonic blasphemy from the dark side.

Dio 1984 Ronnie James Dio (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)

Dio, ‘Holy Diver’ (1983)

This album has classic
grooves, vibes and melodies supporting the king.

UNITED STATES - MARCH 18: Pantera (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Pantera, ‘Cowboys From Hell’ (1990)

The “Texas massacre” started with this one.


Slayer, ‘Reign in Blood’ (1986)

It’s full-frontal
assault riffage and in-your-face lyrics.

British heavy metal band Iron Maiden performs at the Holiday Star Theater during their Beast on the Road Tour, Merrillville, Indiana, May 25, 1982. Pictured are Steve Harris and Bruce Dickinson. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Iron Maiden, ‘Iron Maiden’ (1980)

This felt like fresh U.K.
blood from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and it was top of the heap.

MUNICH, GERMANY - JUNE 3: Jonathan Davis of Korn performs on stage at Nachtwerk on June 3rd 1997 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Bernd Muller/Redferns)

Korn, ‘Korn’ (1994)

On their debut, Korn
brought a new definition of metal that was a game changer.

UNSPECIFIED - FEBRUARY 11: HARDSHOCK FESTIVAL Photo of METALLICA and James HETFIELD and Kirk HAMMETT, Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield performing live onstage, playing Gibson Flying V guitar (Photo by Pete Cronin/Redferns)

Metallica, ‘Kill ‘Em All’ (1983)

This was full-on thrash energy that led the USA charge.

Photo of Black Sabbath (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Black Sabbath, ‘Black Sabbath’ (1970)

This is the blueprint that
epitomizes everything metal.