Judas Priest has aged well.
The English metal band – led by operatic howler Rob Halford – has existed for the better part of 45 years. It defined high-production arena rock in the 1980s (as documented in the 1986 film, “Heavy Metal Parking Lot”) and redefined speed metal in the 1990s. Songs like “Breaking the Law” became part of pop-culture, thanks to MTV (and “Beavis and Butt-Head”).
“We’ve always made each album, each tour, a little bit different, a little bit better,” says the band’s bassist, Ian Hill. He refers to 1986’s “Turbo” as an “experimental” album. It was full of synth-driven pop-metal that stood in stark contrast to the thunderous rock sound Judas Priest had honed on albums like “British Steel.”
The band’s 1990 album, “Painkiller,” was different still; heavier, darker and faster than anything that had come before it. The album re-established Judas Priest as a voice in contemporary heavy metal alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer.
The band continues to reinvent itself for contemporary audiences.
Its latest album, “Redeemer of Souls,” debuted at No. 6 on Billboard’s 200 charts and spurred a nationwide tour with Georgia metal band Mastodon. The tour plays Friday, Oct. 23, at Saroyan Theatre. Rolling Stone said the album is “proof that Priest can still call themselves metal’s defenders of the faith,” a nod to the band’s 1984 album.
The secret, Hill says, is to never rest.
Judas Priest hasn’t stopped in 45 years, he says, even during the period when Halford had left the band.
And they haven’t been afraid to venture into new territory.
“It’s really like an evolution,” he says. “We’ve been surprised sometimes with the reception we get.”
The current tour will feature songs from across the band’s vast catalog of 17 studio albums. That includes fan favorites, Hill says.
So, yes, you’ll get to pound a fist to “Living After Midnight.”
Mostly, Hill promises the typical Judas Priest show. He means it in the best possible way.
“Lots of lights, lots of sound and noise,” he says.
- 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23
- Saroyan Theatre, 730 M St.
- Tickets: $39.50-$129.50
- 800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster