Judas Priest

There isn't much new to say about Judas Priest except that they may be even more important to the genre of heavy metal than most people think—and many already think they are one of the most important bands, metal or otherwise. However, it could (and should) be argued that they are ultimately the most important metal band of all time. To wit: Rob Halford provided the genre with a template to use and/or wholly rip off in his leather-and-studs getups and banshee howls. K.K. Downing has the best rock name ever, save for Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister, and Priest's unimaginably loud, shattering riffs are the stuff of legend. The masterstroke, however, was Halford announcing on MTV in 1998 that he was, in fact, gay, without any collateral damage to his legacy or his career—which was (and really still is) astounding given the time and the hyper-masculine genre in which he operates. But it's a testament to what Judas Priest are all about: They never gave in or gave up and have always stayed true to themselves—even in the face of adversity, even if it meant a smaller market share. These are things that other metal bands didn't do, and why hardly any of them are held in such high regard today. With Whitesnake.
Fri., July 3, 7 p.m., 2009

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