Judas Priest vs. Ac/DC

By Metal Bob
(as told to Wil Forbis)

So I’m at this party, right? And I pull out this bitchin’ new AC/DC album, right? And I say to my friend, Lester ("Lester the Molester" we call him) I say, "man, check this out!" And he’s like "Bust it on, dude!" So we’re there checking it out and this full on preppy chick walks in and says, "Ewww, what is this crap you’re listening to, Judas Priest?"

And I’m like, "Whoa, this is AC/DC." I turn to Lester and say, "Dude, does AC/DC sound anything like Judas Priest?" Now Lester’s taking a bong hit at the time so he can’t talk, but the look in his eyes says to me, "No, Metal Bob. There are many noticeable and concrete differences between these two exponents of 1980’s heavy metal music. To compare the two bands would be like comparing the atonal compositions of Anton Webern to the fuller and more realized of Johann Sebestian Bach!"

So anyway, the chick is like, "Yeah, whatever," and she starts to leave. But I jump in front of her and say, "No way are you bailing here until I can explain to you the many obvious and apparent distinctions between the Priest and AC/DC dudes. So just sit your cute little tushy down and prepare to be blown away by my metal knowledge." And Lester full-on backs me up by saying, "Yeah!"

"First, let me say," I begin, "Both bands are ultra bitchin. And they both totally rock out, But they both totally rock out in their totally separate and unique ways. Priest rocks out in a crazy fast paced kind of way, right? You got this pounding beat and Halford’s (Rob Halford, lead singer) shrieking vocals. Priest music is like the scene of some terrible freeway accident. There’s sirens blaring, people screaming and men running around on fire yelling, "I’m burning! Help me I’m burning!" But AC/DC’s laid back and into the groove you know? Instead of hitting you with a million notes per second, AC/DC hits you with one big note that knocks you on your butt. Like that kick ass intro to Highway to Hell. It’s just monster power chords that slap you around. Duh, nuh, nunt! Duh, nuh, nuh, nunt! Duh, nuh, nuh. Nunt! DUH NUNT! Really down and dirty."

So I’m telling this chick everything and she’s looking at me all confused and little scared like she still doesn’t understand what separates these two totally rockin’ bands. So I see I’m gonna have to get more professor-like in my observations. Get down to the nitty-gritty.

"Okay, check this out," I say "Let’s start with general appearance. Priest is totally leather, right? K.K. Downing (lead guitarist) has got his bitchin’ leather jacket with this cool eagle on it. And Rob Halford is always wearing leather chaps cuz’ he drives on stage on a motorcycle. Lester used to have a pair just like ‘em, but they got torn when we were climbing the fence to get into the train yard. No great loss though, he looked like a wussy in them."

"Whoa! Screw you, dude!" Lester jumps in, swigging down an Old Milwaukee.

"Shut up, Lester," I say. Then I get back to work on my point. "Not only are Priest totally leathered out, but they’re always pissed off looking. When you see pictures of them they’ve always got a deadly look on their faces like they’re going off on a important mission. Cuz’ they know they’re the last of the British heavy metal bands."

"But the AC/DC boys, they’re totally different, Everyone is totally mellow and smiling. And none of them wear leather. I mean Angus (Angus Young, lead guitar player) goes around wearing a schoolboy uniform no less. And everyone else in the band are just casual jeans and T-shirt type of dudes."

"You mean like George Michael?" the preppy girl squeaks out. Now I can tell she’s trying. I can tell she wants to understand. But only the lamest moron would compare AC/DC to George Michael. So I jump up and yell at her, "George Michael is a sissy! They should have kicked that Nancy-Boy off the planet years ago!"

The girl kind of shrinks back in her seat. But I can tell she is hungry for more knowledge of these two most rockinist’ of bands.

"Okay," I say. "Let’s take a look at the lyrical aspects that separate these two masters off metal. True to form, Priest have serious, important lyrics that deal with vital issues of the day, like savage winged lizards or giant robots killing off entire planets. No wussy love crap here. And when Priest aren’t singing about demons and such, they’re delivering powerful anthems to metal fans everywhere, telling them to unite in the kingdom of Metaldom!"

"Like Defenders of the Faith," Lester jumps in. "That is such a bitchin' song!"

"Lester is correct," I tell the preppy chick. "And it is here on the lyrical plateau we can most clearly see the line that divides Judas Priest from AC/DC. Priest focus their lyrics on the supernatural or extraterrestrial. AC/DC contemplate the subject that has plagueth man since the dawn of time. Chicks! Most of AC/DC’s poetic pontifications are dedicated to analyzing the various aspects of the elusive female. From Giving the Dog a Bone to Ball Buster, AC/DC songs are innuendo laden tributes to the spirit of modern womanhood."

"I think they’re sexist and degrading to women, you greasy haired zit factory," the chick says. What can I say? Babes are nice to look at, but they’re obviously carrying a lot of dead weight upstairs.

"Dude," Lester interjects. "Let us not forget, AC/DC also have killer songs dedicated to their fans the way Priest does. For example, For Those About to Rock, We Salute You."

"Good point, Lester," I say. "Perhaps it is here we can find a point of intersection between the two bands. So while in many ways they are quite different, they are obviously not without their similarities. But let’s move on from the element of prose and concentrate on the musical differences between both groups."

"Coolness!" said Lester. "Let me do this part, dude. The instrumental side of music is my specialty."

"Lester, most holy one," I replied. "The stage is yours."

"Okay, check this out," Lester begins, taking a long look at the prep girl’s voluminous chest. "Judas Priest have always been the virtuosos of heavy metal. The drumming, the guitar playing: it’s always been fast and technically efficient, more in line with classical instrumentalists than traditional rock players. Check out K.K and Glen’s (twin lead guitarists) double attack on the solo to Locked In. Super fast arpeggiated madness! One listen and you’ll be saying, ‘Hendrix who?’ And they same holds true with the drumming especially the new guy. His bass pedal is throbbing, As for the bass playing, that’s always been rather mediocre, The last guy quit because he wanted to do something weak like start a family. Doesn’t matter though, bass players are a dime a dozen. But speed has always been the defining element of Priest. It’s fast, fast and faster!"

"AC/DC," Lester continued without skipping a beat, "is quite different. Most of their songs operate on a slower mid-tempo kind of groove, usually with a hidden swing feel. In fact, much of AC/DC’s material is essentially blues based. The swinging groove, the Albert King like solos... AC/DC are probably more closely related to early rockers like Little Richard or Bo Diddley than later metal originators such as Black Sabbath or Deep Purple."

I had to interrupt Lester at this point as he had nailed the fundamental point of distinction between Priest and AC/DC but failed to pounce. "You see," I began blurted out. "It’s in each bands roots you can most clearly see their differences. Priest are essentially classically based, have a very formal presence and emphasize technique over feel. AC/DC on the other hand, are looser, more casual and more rooted in the spiritual styles of traditional Black music like Blues or Jazz."

"Therein," I raised my finger in the air to culminate my point, "lies your difference!"

The look that came over the prep chick’s face was astounding. It was if she’d finally understood, finally seen the light. She could see the clear visual distinctions between both bands. And she wholeheartedly agreed that the lyrical content divided sharply between both Priest and AC/DC aside from their most rocking commitment to their fans. And the stylistic disparities between Judas Priest’s pounding attack and AC/DC’s laid back groove had never been clearer to her. She insisted that she would go right home, burn her Michael Jackson records and meet us later for coffee so we could discuss the didactical differences between Thin Lizzy and Rush.

"Dude-o-mine," I said to Lester as we left the party. "We’ve added another sheep to the flock."

"It is truly a most rockinist event," Lester agreed, in between regurgitating a half rack of Mickey’s and some month old Jim Beam.

It was clear to both of us that day, that we had a purpose, that we could make a difference. There many out there who were lost to the effects of full-on rockin’ music. And together, Lester and I, we could spread the gospel of truly bitchin’ metal music and unite the world in rock and roll harmony.

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