Fifty years of doing anything in the arts is impressive — even more so in popular music, and especially in heavy metal.
It’s a rigorous and demanding genre, and certainly of a niche for faithful. But it’s proved resilient, welcoming to new directions and trends while continuing to revere its traditions and its long-haulers.
Judas Priest have become the latest to join the golden anniversary club, and in its case a band that’s spent the past half-century rocking uninterrupted, weathering lineup changes and changing audience tastes. But anyone who’s seen the quintet as recently as this year’s “50 Heavy Metal Years Tour” — which came to an abrupt and unexpected stop on September 26th after guitarist Richie Faulkner suffered a ruptured aorta onstage and more than 10 hours of open heart surgery — can testify Priest is as potent today as it’s been at any point of its career.
That case is further made by the new box set 50 Heavy Metal Years of Music, a 42-disc spectacular that features all of the group’s studio and official live albums, two discs of rarities and five previously unreleased shows, along with a deluxe memorabilia book, band member photos signed by photographer Ross Halfin, a numbered “British Steel” razor bland more and more. A single disc “Reflections” that culls 15 tracks from the box is also being released.
Heavy Consequence caught up with frontman Rob Halford by Zoom, at home in Arizona with some unexpected time on his hands, where he told us he quietly battled prostate cancer during the pandemic. Thankfully, the cancer is now in remission, but the singer was still “shook up, emotionally” by Faulkner’s heart emergency.
In the wake of those serious health issues for both him and his bandmate, the Metal God was gracious in taking the time to speak with us about his band’s legacy, among other topics.