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Judas Priest
British Steel Mark Eglinton , May 21st, 2010 08:05

There's a certain understandable cynicism surrounding 'deluxe' record release packages nowadays, probably because there have been several which offer nothing in advance of the original release. While Judas Priest would arguably go on to better things, British Steel, is an important record in the overall fabric of British heavy metal, simply because it was one of the first proper heavy metal albums. While fellow Brummies Black Sabbath are often credited with the invention of the term 'heavy metal', a lot of their early material was founded largely on blues; something you could never level at British Steel. This and the fact that it contains a slew of stone-cold metal anthems, makes this record seminal, and therefore certainly worthy of lavish repackaging of this kind

The album itself, which is the same re-master which appeared a few years ago, is the centrepiece obviously, and tracks like 'Breaking The Law', 'Metal Gods' and 'Living After Midnight' would and do find themselves onto any compilation of great British metal songs. Of the others, only 'United' sounds a tad dated, with its cheesy football anthem refrain, whereas 'Steeler' and 'Grinder' still deliver every time. Where this package really scores though is with the extra material. What you get— depending on the format— are the re-mastered album (with two added live tracks), a live recording of the album made in August 2009, a live DVD of the same gig, and finally an insightful 30-minute documentary about the making of the album.

All of the above are high-quality and a must-own for fans of the Priest, but what they also do rather well is shed quite a bit of crucial perspective on the material, given the extremely recent renditions. Ignore the fact that Halford's voice is at times several octaves lower than his 1980s banshee wail, and you'll hear a band who still deliver every time on the live arena, and that is of massive credit to their work ethic over the last 30-odd years.

Fans of the band will like this package, but for anyone looking for a snapshot of a seminal British heavy metal group in their prime, this deluxe edition represents as good an option as any.