Rob Halford, lead singer of Judas Priest, doesn't mince words when explaining why his band went back to its heavy metal-roots with its latest effort, "Painkiller."
"We wanted to make the toughest, hardest rocking, in-your-face music of our career, and I know we've done it," Halford said.
Indeed, the true grandfathers of heavy metal, in their 14th attempt at metal Valhalla, have succeeded in quelling any notion that they've gone soft.
"About three albums ago there was a question as to which direction this band was going to take," Halford said. "Rock music turned two ways. There are rock bands like Bon Jovi, Winger, Warrant and the like. Then there are bands like Metallica, Megadeath and Anthrax. Both are fine.
"We walked the fence for a while, but we finally decided that we wanted to go with the harder sound," said Halford, whose band headlines a show with Megadeath and Testament at the Capital Centre in Landover Sunday night. "It's more us and I think it has always been that way."
The band has received a ton of unwanted publicity the past six months stemming from a lawsuit in Reno, Nev., during the summer that alleged that the band's 1978 "Stained Class" LP contained subliminal messages that caused two teen-age boys to commit suicide.
Priest was found not guilty on all charges, but four months in court cost the band about $750,000 and tied up the release of "Painkiller."
"It was a disgusting attempt by some two-bit attorneys to take Judas Priest and CBS Records to court for money," Halford said. "All over an issue that simply had its responsibilities placed fairly and squarely upon the families of these two young men who were drug abusers and alcohol abusers of the highest degree. I can say that with all truth and honesty. I sat in court for four months and heard the testimony of the parents, schoolteachers, the friends and relatives of the boys."
Halford said he's happy "the fiasco is over with," and is even happier being back on the road with Priest.
"With each album we have more trouble putting a show together and picking out material," Halford said. "This time we've tried to stay within the harder aspects of the new album and choose the right songs. Of course there are alway a group of classic songs like "Another Thing Comin'," "The Ripper" and "Living After Midnight" that are staples in the show. The fans wouldn't allow us to not play them."
Also coming to the Capital Centre, Tony, Toni, Tone and Salt N Pepa (Dec. 30) and ZZ Top with Black Crowes (Jan. 13 & 14). Tickets for the second show will be $22.50 and go on sale Monday at 8 a.m. at all TicketCenter locations. Call 481-6000 to charge.
Coming to Max's On Broadway, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (Sunday).