Metal Gods: Judas Priest and the Art of Ass-Kicking Robots

It’s a widely accepted fact that British metal legends Judas Priest helped define the sound of heavy metal as we know it today.  But what isn’t as widely acknowledged is how they also helped define the visual aesthetics of heavy metal; indeed, Priest is as  much responsible for what metal albums look like as they are for what metal albums sound like.  Although they’ve never had a single unifying theme to their artwork (ala Iron Maiden’s Eddie or Motorhead’s Snaggletooth), no less than seven of their album covers do have something very important in common: ass-kicking robots.

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I fucking love Motörhead and so should you.

I’m pretty sure I first heard Motörhead via Headbanger’s Ball, around the time of the March or Die and Bastards albums. I distinctly remember the video for “Hellraiser” from March or Die making quite an impression on me; Lemmy Kilmister had to be pretty badass to be playing cards with Pinhead. I already loved horror movies when I started getting into heavy metal in the early nineties, so making a connection between my two obsessions made perfect sense, even if Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth didn’t exactly turn out to be cinematic gold.  Also, being already familiar with Ozzy Osbourne’s version of “Hellraiser,” I thought Lemmy must be doubly badass if The Prince of F’n Darkness is stealing his tunes. The Bastards album spawned “Burner,” which is a great song and had a pretty cool accompanying clip in spite of it being a glorified performance video, as well as “Born to Raise Hell,” which appeared on the soundtrack to Airheads, a horrifically dumb movie  (which I absolutely love) about a metal band holding a radio station hostage.
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Blitzkrieg #8: Oooh Baby I Like it Raw (from the Trashmen to Transilvanian Hunger)

In a recent conversation about music, my wife pointed out that I tend to gravitate towards stuff that is very raw and simplistic.  I believe “garagey” was the term she used.  She’s absolutely right.  I guess this has long been the case, but I had never really thought about it consciously until she brought it up.  I mean, I’ve certainly done my fair share of writing and espousing the virtues of raw, primitive music, but I never really considered just how much my listening preferences are dominated by these characteristics.
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