This mega-post features one of metal's greatest bands, Judas Priest, and a number of notable heavy metal bands covering jams from Priest's massive catalog. From Armored Saint to yes, Virgin Steel (because you can never shake 80's metal out of your hair no matter how hard you bang your head), we're going to hear some impressive takes on Priest classics as well as a few deep dives into the sounds Priest made in the late 70s. And I can't think of a better way to kick this listening party off than by cranking up Motörhead's cover of "Breaking the Law."
Motorhead's cover of "Breaking the Law" first appeared on the Judas Priest tribute album, Hell Bent Forever: A Tribute to Judas Priest, then again on Motörhead's 2017 record, Under Cöver. Here's Mikkey Dee on their decision to cover one of Priest's most famous songs:
"Of course, we all love Judas Priest. Lemmy used to really dig their guitar riffs — he thought they were really heavy. We toured with them, and they're good friends, so it was just a natural thing to say yes to. I think Bob (Bob Kulick (RIP) of KISS/W.A.S.P who did production on a few of the record's tracks, suggested three or four songs, and this was one of them. It was a pretty easy choice."
Lemmy has described Rob Halford's vocals as one of the most "acrobatic voices in the history of mankind," and the mutual admiration between two of the greatest metal vocalists (fight me, I'm right), is well documented. Besides, if anyone band has the right to cover Priest, it would be Motörhead.
Sepultura – "Screaming for Vengence"
Sepultura also has a track on Hell Bent Forever with their take on "Screaming for Vengence," though it originally appeared on their 2001 album Tribute to the Gods. And, true to their sick form, Sepultura's version of "Screaming for Vengence" does the original justice and then some.
Slayer – "Dissident Aggressor"
Slayer guitarist Kerry King has called Judas Priest "his idols." He would go on to praise the vocals of his one-time neighbor in Phoenix, Rob Halford, likening him to a "vocal ninja." Here's King hailing the Metal God's remarkable voice:
"Rob Halford is what I call a vocal ninja. The stuff he does in the '70s, '80s, even '90s, and even today, he can't hit the notes from his heyday, but he goes out and puts on a hell of a show. But the thing he does, the shrill crazy Rob Halford scream is I think what got me."
In 2017 when asked to name his top ten metal albums, Rob Halford returned the compliment by including Slayer's album Reign in Blood (1986) as one of his top ten go-to records. Can Araya growl the fuck out a sick thrash jam? You bet. But to try to compare Halford and Araya vocally doesn't make much sense as they are masters of their own very different metal realities. Slayer still murders this cover as you might expect, especially as it was recorded during their heyday.
Testament – "Rapid Fire"
In 2003 at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, Testament vocalist Chuck Billy jumped up on stage to perform "Rapid Fire" with Rob Halford. In the past, Billy has cited Halford as one of his heroes (his number one being Ronnie James Dio). Testament's cover of "Rapid Fire" (which has also been a part of their live shows), is a part of the 1997 compilation, A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal Vol. 1.
Sacred Reich – "Rapid Fire"
In 1987, Phoenix band Sacred Reich released a cover of Priest's "Rapid Fire" with, get this, Rob Halford on vocals. Included as a bonus track for a 2007 reissue of their debut record, Ignorance, along with their 1988 EP, Surf Nicaragua. Sacred Reich vocalist Phil Rind cites "Rapid Fire" as his favorite song off of British Steel, and with Halford at the helm, this cover kills.
Ensiferum – "Breaking the Law"
All the way from Helsinki comes Finnish folk metal band Ensiferum with their cover of the ever-popular Priest classic, "Breaking the Law." You can find Ensiferum's melodic cover on their 2001 self-titled debut. In 2014 the band released a new version of "Breaking the Law" as a part of issue #94 of Legacy: The Voice from the Darkside magazine.
Mercyful Fate – "The Ripper"
You know you have a goddamn solid metal playlist when it includes Mercyful Fate. Mercyful Fate's version of "The Ripper" (originally recorded by Priest in 1976) also appears on A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal Vol. 1. However, like most of the covers in this post, it was previously recorded and released as a bonus track on the Japanese release of the band's 1996 album, Into the Unknown.
Pantera – "Grinder" (with Rob Halford on vocals)
I don't know if there is another metal band that loves Judas Priest more than Pantera. The band has covered Priest for years during their live shows, taking on "Electric Eye," "Metal Gods," and, during a show sometime in 1997 Pantera brought the Metal God himself on stage to perform "Grinder" with them.
Death – "Painkiller"
The vocals of Long Island native Chuck Schuldiner (RIP), of pioneering Florida band Death, have been described as one of the most "visceral" and "throat-ripping" in all of death metal. For their last album, 1998's The Sound of Perseverance, the band put their brutal spin on the title track from Judas Priest's 1990 album Painkiller. In an interview from 1999 with Chuck Schuldiner, he was asked for his thoughts about covering "Painkiller," and his response is priceless:
"Well, basically, it was a chance for me to sing different. I prefer singing melodically. I don't like singing death vocals. The Priest song was a chance for me to have fun; we all love the record. "Painkiller" is God. It's a chance to have fun with it. We get to sing. We didn't know we were going to release it; we didn't know it was going to come out, really. We decided to put it on the album."
Radakka – "Nightcrawler"
Chicago strongly represents in this post with prog/power metal band Radakka and their cover of "Nightcrawler" from Judas Priest's 1990 album Painkiller.
Saxon – "You've Got Another Thing Coming"
Saxon got in early to the JP cover game in 1996 when their cover of the Priest smash was included A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal Vol. 1. It's funny, for a while early in their career, before vocalist Biff Byford went blonde, he sported a dark-haired mullet and looked a lot like Judas Priest guitarist Glen Tipton. So much so there's a video claiming to be from the early 80s of Saxon performing "You've Got Another Thing Coming" on Top of the Pops. Sadly, while the Saxon performance is legit (they appeared on TOTP at least five times between 1980 and 1981), their appearances on TOTP's predates "You've Got Another Thing Coming" by a year. Anyway, the bottom line is this: Saxon rules, and so does this cover.
Overkill – "Tyrant"
In 1999 New Jersey thrash legends Overkill put out Coverkill, an album full of – surprise! – covers, including their hot take on JP's "Tyrant," originally recorded by Priest for their 1976 record, Sad Wings of Destiny and was also a part of 1997's Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal. Before they officially settled on the name Overkill, (named after Motörhead's 1979 record), they were briefly known as Virgin Killer (an homage to the Scorpions 1976 album), and would close their shows with "Tyrant."
Blind Guardian – "Beyond the Realms of Death"
Another band digging deep in the Judas Priest archives is the power metal group Blind Guardian who hail from Germany and were formed smack in the middle of the 80s.
In 1996 they put out The Forgotten Tales, an eclectic collection of covers of jams by The Beach Boys (?), late 1940's female pop sensations The Chordettes (??), Dio ("Don't Talk to Strangers"), and a blow-by-blow version of "Beyond the Realms of Death" initially recorded by Priest for their 1978 album Stained Class. A couple of years later, Blind Guardian's JP cover found its way to the band's four-song EP Mirror Mirror, a follow up to their massively-tracked concept album based on the novel The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien.
Kreator – "Grinder"
German thrash metal band Kreator was around for three decades after getting started in 1982. Vocalist Mille Petrozza cites the inspiration for his extreme vocals comes from listening to early Venom–specifically their 1981 jam "Welcome to Hell." Kreator's cover of "Grinder" can be found on A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal II.
Helloween – "The Hellion/Electric Eye"
Heavy metal heroes Helloween have recorded a few covers by other heavy bands like the Scorpions ("He's a Woman, She's a Man"), Accept ("Fast as a Shark"), and Kiss ("I Stole Your Love"). When it comes to Judas Priest, Helloween's take on "The Hellion/Electric Eye" first appeared on their 1996 record, The Time of the Oath. A year later, it was selected as the opening track on A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal Vol. I. For this metalhead's money, it doesn't get much better than Helloween and the vocals of Michael Kiske. Kiske has been blowing minds with his nearly four-octave tenor-style voice for decades and has been clocked hitting super high notes such as the A5, which is pretty fucking up there. Thanks to that gift, its safe to say Helloween slay this classic from 1982's Screaming for Vengeance.
Skid Row (with Rob Halford) – "Deliver the Goods"
Another deep cut from Judas Priest's 1978 album Killing Machine, "Delivering the Goods" was covered live back in 1992 by Skid Row. This time Rob Halford got in on the action along with Sebastian Bach and Skid Row during a live performance of the track in MTV's New York City studio. As there can be no debate about Bach's vocal prowess, the addition of Halford to the mix equates to complete insanity. You might recall, 1992 was a transitional year for Halford to say the least. He had done the unthinkable by parting ways with Judas Priest to work on his first solo band, Fight. As he often has during his career, he adopted a different style, briefly dropping the leather and studs, trading them in for cargo shorts and sleeveless flannel shirts. ANYWAY, how the studio audience didn't pass the fuck out during this electrifying segment will always be a mystery to me. Halford's cover collaboration with Skid Row shows up twice in Skid Row's catalog–first on B-Sides Ourselves (1992), then on Subhuman Beings on Tour (1995). It's also a part of the 2002 compilation A Tribute to the Priest.
Rage – "Jawbreaker"
First formed in 1984 as Avenger, Rage transitioned to the name Furious Rage before officially becoming Rage in 1985 to distinguish themselves from another German band calling themselves Avenger. PHEW! Original vocalist Peter "Peavy" Wagner approaches his singing style by staying true to his "natural voice range" Rage's cover of Judas Priest's "Jawbreaker" (from 1977's Sin After Sin) was recorded by the band for their 1996 five-song album, Higher than the Sky. It is also a part of their live concert DVD, Metal Meets Classic Live (2001) and A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal I.
Metallica – "Rapid Fire" (live with Rob Halford)
Metallica has sort of covered Judas Priest jams over the years, including once during a warmup in October of 2018 with drummer Lars Ulrich on vocals. Before a gig in Romania in 2019, they ripped up a bit of "The Green Manalishi (With the Three-Pronged Crown), which, coincidentally, was originally by Fleetwood Mac and covered by Priest on 1978's Killing Machine. For the last show of their Shit Hits the Sheds Tour in 1994, Metallica upped the Priest cover-anty by welcoming Rob Halford to the stage to take over the vocals for their cover of "Rapid Fire" from 1980's British Steel (1980). I can only say this; when Halford hits the long high note at the end of "Rapid Fire," James Hetfield takes a knee, and fucking salutes him–as one should. If you've never seen this footage, get ready to be floored.
Disturbed – "Living After Midnight"
Let's just start this off by making a very important point about Disturbed vocalist David Draiman. Draiman's vocal range is on par with some of the greatest metal/rock vocalists of all time. His range is classified as Bb1 to B5 – the very same category as Phil Anselmo, James Brown and, the man himself, Rob Halford – who are all gifted with a wide four-octave plus range. You can find Disturbed's version of "Living After Midnight" on the band's 2011 compilation The Lost Children.
Heaven's Gate – "The Sentinel"
Like Iron Maiden, German metal band Heaven's Gate are fans of Monty Python and have recorded a metal version of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." The very tune Maiden has played following their live shows for decades. Very much influenced by Judas Priest, the vocals of Heaven's Gate frontman Thomas Rettke have been described as "Halfordian" as it pertains to his tone and range. Their cover of "The Sentinel" (from 1984's Defenders of the Faith) can be found on A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal II.
Angelus Apatrida – "Hell Patrol"
When Spanish band Angelus Apatrida got started in 2000, like many bands in their youth, they primarily performed covers including songs by Judas Priest. For their fourth studio record in 2012 The Call, Angelus Apatrida recorded a version of "Hell Patrol" from Painkiller.
Virgin Steele – "Screaming for Vengeance"
Say what you will about Virgin Steele, but maybe not in front of the members of Metallica because they love them. Born in Long Island in 1981, the band has had a long, criminally underrated career of making far-out melodic/power metal. To say nothing of the ear-shattering falsetto of vocalist David DeFeis and his nearly four-octave range. With all that going for him, it makes sense DeFeis and Virgin Steele hopped on the JP cover bandwagon, and in 1997 for a reissue of their 1988 album Age of Consent. Put out by German label Noise International (who cater to fans of heavy metal and thrash), their recording of Priest's "Desert Plains" (from JP's 1981 album Point of Entry), made the cut. In 2008, another remaster, this time by German label Dockyard 1, included Virgin Steele's version of "Screaming for Vengeance."
Iron Savior – "Electric Eye" and "Delivering the Goods"
German power metal band Iron Savior formed in 1996. In 2000, they released a two-song CD with Noise International. Both Side A and B contained covers, "Headhunters" (originally recorded by Krokus in 1983), and Judas Priest's "The Hellion/Electric Eye." For their third record, 2001's Dark Assault, they included their version of "Delivering the Goods," and "The Hellion/Electric Eye" on a Japanese-only release.
Doro – "Breaking the Law"
The undisputed Queen of Metal Doro Pesch and her acoustic cover of "Breaking the Law" show up on the 2010 edition of her eighth studio record, Fight. Which, as far as we know, was sadly not an homage to Halford's first post-Priest solo project. Pesch has performed the song live quite a bit over the years. In 2004 for the DVD, Classic Diamonds, we can see and hear Pesch's passionate version of "Breaking the Law" go down live at Wacken with the ultimate back up band, the Classic Night Orchestra–a 30 instrument symphonic orchestra.
Halestorm – "Dissident Aggressor"
Here we have another very metal woman taking on the vocals of Rob Halford, this time it's Lzzy Hale of Pennsylvania band Halestorm. Hale boasts a three-octave range, which gives one instant chills. I back this statement up as while watching Hale sing the national anthem at a game for her hometown hockey team, the Syracuse Crunch, I went full goosebumps. And I had the very same reaction hearing Lzzy belt the fuck out of "Dissident Aggressor" found on the band's 2013 EP, ReAniMate 2.0: The CoVeRs eP.
Huntress – "Running Wild"
The late Jill Janus of Huntress had an incredible vocal range clocked at four octaves. As a teen, she took opera lessons before she figured out metal was where it was at. In 2013 Huntress released a cover of "Running Wild" (Killing Machine, 1978) on their album, Starbound Beast.
Iced Earth – "Screaming for Vengeance"
Tampa, Florida band Iced Earth get into the Priest fray with their cover of the ever-popular "Screaming for Vengeance" for their album, Tribute to the Gods. It would be Iced Earth vocalist Matt Barlow's final record with the band, and damn! he goes out with a bang. When toothing through the YouTube comments for the song, at least one person did precisely what I did. They skipped ahead to the last 30 or so seconds of the song to see if Barlow and his four-octave baritone could hit Halford's impossible high notes at the crushing conclusion. Well, did he? Fuck yes and then some.
HammerFall – "Breaking the Law"
The cover of HammerFall's 2008 album, Masterpieces, contains illustrated homages to the various groups the Swedish band covered on the record. There's a little pumpkin for Helloween, a sign directing you to Detroit Rock City (a hat tip to Kiss), and a razor with the words "Swedish Steel" written on it for Judas Priest. HammerFall chose "Breaking the Law" with the founder of HammerFall, Oscar Dronjak, on vocals. As far as covers go, HammerFall's replication of "Breaking the Law" is pretty straight-forward, making it hard, if not impossible to criticize.
Stratovarius – "Bloodstone"
Finnish band Stratovarius cover of "Bloodstone" (Screaming for Vengeance) originally appeared on A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal Vol. II. It showed up again on their 2001 album Intermission. It's been noted that one time Stratovarius vocalist Timo Kotipelto is a tenor can easily hit high notes, which many mezzo-sopranos can't. If you're not exactly sure what a mezzo-soprano sounds like, listen to Janis Joplin or Ella Fitzgerald.
Stryper – "Breaking the Law"
In 2011 Stryper put out an album full of covers by bands that helped inspire them. There are some ambitious tracks on the cleverly titled The Covering by the famous Christian metal band. Such as Ozzy's "Over the Mountain," and vocally speaking, Van Halen's "On Fire," which, if you're not familiar, features David Lee Roth hitting chill-inducing high notes over and over for three solid minutes. Speaking of vocals, Stryper vocalist Michael Sweet can fucking blow like a soprano and was once able to easily hit a solid C6 note. If you want to know what that sounds like, go listen to Anthrax's 1984 record Fistful of Metal with their original vocalist Neil Turbin, who possesses the same stunning range.
Skyclad – "Dreamer Deceiver"
Do you think you can get down with a folk metal version of Judas Priest's "Dreamer Deceiver?" What if I told you the vocals were done by former Sabbat vocalist Martin Walkyier? While Sabbat and Skyclad are polar opposites, Walkyier says that when it comes to covering a song, he tries to stay as "true" to the originals as possible. Quite the challenge when it comes to Halford's vocal prowess. Here's the gist; if you're going to folk-rock a JP original, this is the way to do it, faithfully.
Abbath – "Riding on the Wind"
If you've been paying attention, you might have noticed many of the bands in this post shares an affinity for Priest's 1982 album Screaming for Vengeance, which is understandable. In 2015 the former vocalist of Immortal, Abbath (Olve Eikemore) leased the single "Count the Dead" from his debut, Abbath. On the B-side of the 7" is Abbath's very heavy cover of Priest's "Riding on the Wind" and even plays former Priest guitarist K.K. Downing's solo in addition to putting his own grim spin on the song's vocals. Abbath also manages to sound a bit like Halford sans super high notes, and this black metal cover of "Riding on the Wind" is black metal perfection.
Fozzy – "Riding on the Wind"
Fozzy frontman Chris Jericho (Christopher Keith Irvine) has done a little bit of everything during his career. WWE wrestler and the first WWF Undisputed Champion (2001)? Check. Actor appearing in films such as Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (and more)? Check. Podcaster, television host, and star of countless wrestling-themed video games? Check! Fozzy's first record was comprised almost exclusively of covers, including Priest's "Riding on the Wind" with Jericho on vocals (credited as Moongoose McQueen). The album was a commercial failure, selling around 4200 copies, and due to the dismal U.S. sales, Megaforce declined to release the record in Europe.
Powerwolf – "Night Crawler" and "Touch of Evil"
Powerwolf hails from Germany and writes songs about werewolves, vampires, Christianity, and ancient Romanian legends. In 2015 they included a bonus CD, Metallum Nostrum, included with their sixth album, Blessed & Possessed. The ten-track CD contained ten covers personally selected by members of the band. Powerwolf went for broke by taking on not one, but two Priest songs, "Touch of Evil," and "Night Crawler" (both from 1990's Painkiller). Powerwolf frontman Attila Dorn (Karsten Brill) is a classically trained tenor vocalist with impressive range and power, making him a perfect pick to take on songs originally belted out by Rob Halford.
Gamma Ray – "Exciter" (live)
For Kai Hansen's second appearance in this post, we go to his post-Helloween band, Gamma Ray. On vocals for their cover of "Exciter" is Ralf Scheepers, whose style and range are similar to Rob Halford's. Scheepers is a big fan of Judas Priest and covered several Priest songs with his band Primal Scream. Another thing connecting Scheepers to Priest is his assertion that when Halford departed JP, he was on the "list" of singers the group was considering for Rob's vacated vocalist spot. And once you hear Gamma Ray's cover of "Exciter," you'll understand why. This cover of "Exciter" can be found on both the 2002 rerelease of Insanity and Genius and, like many of the covers in this post, A Tribute to Judas Priest, Vol. 2: Delivering the Goods.
Angra – "Painkiller"
Brazillian band Angra completely owns their cover of "Painkiller" thanks in part to the fucking spectacular vocals of the legendary André Matos (RIP). Angra's incredible cover of "Painkiller" first appeared on the band's 1996 EP, Freedom Call, and a year later on A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal Vol. II.
Greek Defenders of the Faith – Seriously great Greek metal bands covering Judas Priest
Just when you think you know it all when it comes to Judas Priest, a compilation all the way from Greece comes across your radar at precisely the right time. Gus G. of the Greek metal band Firewind used to play guitar for Ozzy Osbourne. And loads of the bands featured on the compilation album Greek Defenders of the Faith: A Tribute to Judas Priest have supported bands on tour like Iron Maiden, Accept, W.A.S.P., Fates Warning and more. Greek metal has long used the acronym "GEM" (Greek Epic Metal) to define its super heavy melodic/progressive vibe. Many of the bands on the comp are slightly under the radar with a few exceptions, such as Crystal Tears, and Marauder led by vocalist Nikos Migus Antonogiannakis, the former vocalist of notable Los Angeles metal band, Omen. The CD was released as a part of Metal Hammer in issue #374 in February of 2016.
Hell Bent for Metal: Tribute to Judas Priest – an obscure tribute to Judas Priest from 1999
Put out by LA label Dwell, Hell Bent for Metal: Tribute to Judas Priest is full of all kinds of Priest covers that are mostly death metal but also include a few thrash and power bands doing their best to pay homage to Priest. Nearly all of the bands like old-school LA speed/thrash band Agent Steel are from the U.S., and I'm betting you've never heard of a few of them.
Fates Warning – "Saints in Hell"
Speaking of Fates Warning, the Hartford, Connecticut band covered a deep cut from Judas Priest's massive catalog, "Saints in Hell." Originally recorded by Priest for 1978's Stained Class, Fates Warning's cover appears on A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal. However, early in their career, FW recorded a demo with vocalist John Arch covering "Victim of Changes" from Priest's 1976 record, Sad Wings of Destiny. Arch is a very talented tenor known for his stratospheric vocals making him more than cut out to take on any Priest jam.
Forbidden – "Victim of Changes"
Originally called Forbidden Evil, Forbidden was a thrash metal band formed in 1985 in San Francisco. In 1989 for their live EP Raw Evil: Live at the Dynamo, the group covered "Victim of Changes" from Judas Priest's 1976 album Sad Wings of Destiny. Like Ralf Scheepers, it has been rumored that Forbidden vocalist Russ Anderson was also electric-eyeballed to replace Rob Halford. Known for his ability to deliver the high-pitched goods, Anderson does just that in the live recording captured at the Dynamo Festival in Eindhoven, Holland, on May 15, 1989.
Vader – "Rapid Fire"
We featured Vader's and their cover of Judas Priest's "Rapid Fire" here on Metal Injection in 2019 because Polish Death Metal makes everything seem better. Vocalist Piotr Wiwczarek is one of Death Metal's most respected growlers and, the band also collectively cites Judas Priest as their main inspiration. What we get with Vader's cover of "Rapid Fire" is a sweet blend of death metal with Wiwczarek riffing on Halford's vocal cadence. A very metal win/win situation.
Helstar – "Beyond the Realms of Death"
Megadeth's original bass player, David Ellefson, produced Houston, Texas band Helstar's 1995 album Multiples of Black. Like quite a few bands in this post, Helstar covered "Beyond the Realms of Death," and it ain't half-bad.
Nevermore – "Love Bites"
Seattle metal outfit Nevermore put their own heavy, methodical spin on "Love Bites" from 1984's Defenders of the Faith. The band, now sadly long-defunct, toured with a couple of other Priest-loving bands on this list like Mercyful Fate and Iced Earth back in the day. Their slowed-down snarly cover of "Love Bites" can be found on the 2006 reissue of The Politics of Ecstasy, their second album with their original vocalist, Warrel Dane (RIP).
Mahatma – "Painkiller"
Thrash metal band Mahatma formed in Daejeon, South Korea, in 1993. For their second of only three records, Perseverance, they did a heavy as fuck thrashy cover of Priest's "Painkiller" as a Japanese-only bonus track along with Testament's authoritative "Practice What You Preach."
Machine Head – "The Sentinel"
Machine Head vocalist Robb Flynn started taking singing lessons fifteen years into his career in metal in 2011. After recording a cover of Iron Maiden's "Hallowed Be Thy Name," in 2006, Flynn reflected on how he surprised himself by "pulling it off" pretty well vocally. So the next logical step would be to try to stretch even further by taking on Rob Halford with a cover of "The Sentinel" from Priest's 1984 album, Defenders of the Faith. Machine Head's cover of "The Sentinel" can be found on the Deluxe Edition of the band's seventh record, Unto the Locust.
Witherscape – "Out in the Cold"
Here we have another entry from the very, very metal land of Sweden from Witherscape. On their 2014 EP The New Tomorrow, they covered "Out in the Cold" from Priest's record Turbo, giving it a throwback 80s metal vibe. Witherscape vocalist Dan Swanö has been compared to Rob Halford even though his vocal calling card resides in baritone land, with Swanö's range categorized as "remarkably low." This does not mean that Swanö can't hit some of Halford's ear-shattering falsetto, because his vocal range is quite vast.
Arch Enemy – "Breaking the Law" and "Starbreaker"
Another Swedish band that has rightfully praised the Priest in the past is Arch Enemy. In 2018 (and as covered here on Metal Injection), they released an album full of covers fantastically titled Covered in Blood. And, since you can never really have enough Judas Priest in your life, Arch Enemy included two Priest covers on Covered in Blood–"Breaking the Law," and "Starbreaker" from 1977's Sin after Sin. Vocalist Alissa White-Gluz's vocal range (who replaced the equally impressive Angela Gossow) has been described as "insane," noted to be five-octaves strong and able to handle everything from throaty rasps to classical technique. For "Breaking the Law," White-Gluz keeps it grim and guttural. For their cover of "Starbreaker," Arch Enemy went back into their catalog and their time with Angela Gossow. Their cover of "Starbreaker" originally appeared on Wages of Sin–recorded in 2000 but not widely released until 2002. It can be found on the album's super metal bonus CD A Collection of Rare & Unreleased Songs from the Arch Enemy Vault.
Lion's Share – "A Touch of Evil"
More metal madness from Sweden by way of short-lived/on-again-off-again band Lion's Share. During their existence, Lion's Shares' lineup has changed repeatedly, and for their cover of "A Touch of Evil," we have Anders Engberg in the hot seat ready to take on Halford's vocals. Engberg has a massive range, and when he goes for the sky-high note at the end of "Touch of Evil," he absolutely nails it. It's all part of A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal I, as well as the band's 1999 album, Fall From Grace.
Sabaton – "All Guns Blazing"
Hailing from, surprise! Sweden is Sabaton who covered Judas Priest's "All Guns Blazing" (Painkiller) as one of four bonus tracks on their eighth album, The Last Stand (2016). Vocalist Joakim Brodén is a force to be reckoned with–a powerful baritone with the ability to hit falsettos at any moment. When you listen to Sabaton's cover of "All Guns Blazing" you also hear the ear-piercing vocals of former Sabaton singer Thobbe Englund hitting the extra high-Halford-esque notes. Englund's screeches are so authentic-sounding, it's not surprising some fans thought it was Halford himself.
U.D.O. – "Metal Gods"
You have to love the idea of Udo Dirkschneider growling out a cover of Judas Priest's "Metal Gods." It just makes sense that Udo, a metal god in his own right, would step up to the plate to homage a song synonymous with Rob Halford. After he departed Accept in 1987, he formed U.D.O., who have to date recorded seventeen albums, including 2020's We Are One. Like a lot of the bands in this post, you can find U.D.O.'s cover of "Metal Gods" on A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal I. The group included a live version of "Metal Gods" on their 2003 Japanese release, Nailed To Metal (The Missing Tracks) compilation, and their 2010 record, Burning Tracker.
Doom Squad – "Burnin' it Up"
Comprised of former members of Anthrax (bassist Scott Ian), Armored Saint (vocalist John Bush) Fates Warning and Accept (guitarist Jörg Fischer) Doom Squad–a metal super-groups of sorts. Unless I'm wrong, the only recording Doom Squad ever made was their cover of "Burnin' it Up" from 1978's Killing Machine. You can find it on A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal Volume I.
Armored Saint – "Never Satisfied"
Speaking of Armored Saint, the bands excellent cover of "Never Satisfied" (off 1974's Rocka Rolla) appears on the Japanese version of A Tribute to the Priest and the bands 2001 compilation A Nod to the Old School.
A Tribute to the Priest – A Japanese compilation featuring some very metal jams!
We've mentioned A Tribute to the Priest already in this War and Priest-length post. The comp itself features bands specializing in symphonic metal, thrash, death, and more from all around the globe, including Japanese band Onmyo-za. All the way from Osaka, Onmyo-za fuse Japanese folklore and metal together with supersonic results. Onmyo-za's vocalist Kuroneko has an incredibly wide vocal range, which she shows off beautifully in the band's cover of "Beyond the Realms of Death."
Leviathan – "Night Comes Down"
Here's another cover of a down-tempo Priest classic done right by Colorado proggers, Leviathan. The band has been around since the 80s and that breadth of experience rings clear on their cover of "Night Comes Down," originally done by Priest in 1984.
Debauchery – "Painkiller"
Originally known by the alluring name Maggotcunt, the German death metal band became Debauchery in 2002. And they are fond of covering jams by other bands, including Judas Priest. Debauchery's cover of "Painkiller" appears on their 2015 album, Fuck Humanity.
Steel Panther – "You Got Another Thing Coming"
Glammy-glam cats Steel Panther like to have fun. And that is probably the best way to describe their live cover of Priest's "You Got Another Thing Coming." Vocalist Michael Starr dressed up as Halford for their hot take on the classic track. Fun fact! Steel Panther guitarist Satchel (Russell John Parish) played alongside Halford in Fight.
ShadowQuest – "Freewheel Burning"
Power metal band ShadowQuest is from Örebro, Sweden has been around since 2013. Their cover of "Freewheel Burning" (Defenders of the Faith, 1984) is frighteningly authentic thanks to the vocal performance of Patrik Johansson who sounds so much like Halford, it'll make you do a double-take. You can find ShadowQuest's cover of "Freewheel Burning" on their stellar debut record, Armoured IV Pain (2015).
Pagandom – "Electric Eye"
If one thing is now very clear, Sweden loves Judas Priest. Here's Swedish band Pagandom and their cover of "Electric Eye" which they released sometime in 2015, though it does not seem to be available on any of the band's official releases.
Annihilator – "Hell Bent for Leather"
Annihilator vocalist Aaron Randall does a great job in this cover of "Hell Bent for Leather." Recorded in 1993, the band performed the song live while touring Japan that same year. The song was a bonus track for the Japanese release of Annihilator's 1993 album Set the World on Fire and also appears on A Tribute to the Priest (2002).
Strapping Young Lad – "Exciter"
As this post draws to a close, let's hit up the year 1995 and one of Devin Townsend's early musical projects, Strapping Young Lad and this cover of "Exciter." His first album as Strapping Young Lad, Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing, took about a week to record, and Townsend wasn't a fan of the finished product. It did however garner, for the most part, critical praise. The European release of the record (and the 2006 bonus track reissue) both include Townsend's cover of "Exciter."
Devin Townsend – "Sinner"
For his second appearance as the final entry in this massive post, let's take a listen to Devin Townsend's cover of "Sinner." This one shows up on A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal and Townsend really goes for it by churning out a faithful take on the song, but not the studio version. Nope. Townsend looked to JP's first live recording, Unleashed in the East, recorded in Tokyo in 1979, using the band's live performance of "Sinner" as his template.
Well, there you have it. At least I think that's every metal Priest cover ever. Of course, I'm sure a few other equally dedicated Priest fans might hip me to something I missed. Or maybe we here at Metal Injection have hipped you to some headbanging Priest covers you never heard of the nearly 60 different bands and a handful of compilations discussed in this mega-post. Just remember this: keep calm, listen to Priest, and don't forget–reading can, in fact, be fundaMETAL.