Black Sabbath may have started it all, but no band is more synonymous with heavy metal than Judas Priest. Priest copped Sabbath's heaviness and built on it by codifying the elements that would define metal for two decades: upper register vocal caterwauling, pyrotechnic fretwork, operatic bombast, and taut rhythms played squarely on beat. Of course, their leather bad boy image became a metal stock in trade as well. While in no way an attempt to be the definitive statement on the band, the JUDAS PRIEST LIMITED EDITION box set is an interesting summation of the band's early years and the beginnings of this basic metal sound.
The box compiles songs all previously available on three different records--ROCKA ROLLA, SAD WINGS OF DESTINY, and HERO HERO--in one place. Since HERO HERO is comprised of songs from the other two records, albeit with different mixes and a few rarities, including it on this box may be a little unnecessary. Nonetheless, the collection's highlights are many: "The Ripper" and "Deceiver," both devastating slices of British steel; "One for The Road" and "Dying to Meet You", both stand-out proto-metal blues perversions; and, most perverse of all, "Diamonds and Rust," an irony free reading of the Joan Baez classic, a song that wears its studded leather surprisingly well. Hearing all the early Priest in one place and with new sequencing thrills, and emphasizes their transformation into a band with their own groundbreaking vision.