Judas Priest vs. Iron Maiden

For those of us who spend a lot of time on social media (i.e. all of us), things have been pretty heavy recently.

So let’s make things even heavier! It’s high time we find a scientific solution to the question that’s been dividing our country ever since Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan:

Who is better, Iron Maiden or Judas Priest?

Like most rational human beings, I love both bands. Choosing a favorite feels kind of like the girl in My Two Dads trying to choose whether her real dad is Paul Reiser or the BJ and the Bear guy. Each band has its own unique strengths and weaknesses.

Yet deep in my heart, I know the answer: Judas Priest is better. And I think I know a way to prove it scientifically.

My hypothesis is this:

Judas Priest’s songs, performances, and “overall thing” are more METAL than Iron Maiden’s songs, performances, and “overall thing.”

Obviously, that’s a difficult comparison to make–the bands’ histories, and levels of consistency, vary greatly. I think fans of both bands would probably agree that Iron Maiden is a little more “constant” both stylistically and in terms of quality but with fewer surprises. Judas Priest is more erratic, with big peaks and valleys, including some major missteps but also some of the best pioneering metal albums of all time.

So–how to measure the one against the other?

My testing methodology will be to compare the bands SONG for SONG, using a slightly different sample criterion for each experiment. E.g. one experiment might be to compare songs from each band about a certain subject, or songs in a certain format (e.g. B-sides, covers, ballads), or songs with a particular stylistic flourish, etc.

And to risk embarrassment for both bands, I’ll be focusing primarily on their “classic” periods except when absolutely necessary:

  • For Judas Priest, this would be from 1974’s release of Rocka Rolla all the way to when Rob Halford fell off his motorcycle on the 1991 Painkiller tour.
  • Iron Maiden’s classic period stretches from their self-released Soundhouse Tapes EP in 1979 to when Bruce Dickinson announced his departure from Iron Maiden in 1992 and then proceeded to just sing shitty throughout his contractual obligations on their Fear of the Dark tour.

Within the parameters of each challenge, I’ll be measuring how “metal” it is using this decidedly SIMPLE system of weights and challenges, on a 666 point scale:


The first challenge starts TOMORROW!

And to whet your whistles, here is a sampling of most of the songs I’ve already picked out for challenges. Can you pick out which themes I’m picking for the song-by-song comparisons?

Let me know any ideas you have about songs or themes to compare. We’ll start tomorrow, on METAL MONDAY.


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