Theme: Victory at all costs. Over what exactly, one never really knows, but you’d better be standing tall at the end of it. Twenty-five years later, and I still have no idea how to picture a “freewheel.” But it’s on fire, apparently.
Key lyric: “We don’t accept defeat, we never will retreat…We blaze with scorching heat, obliterations everywhere.”
Bath House Barometer: 6 – Masculine force is at full throttle, and the song alludes to a “load (that) will detonate”, but generic obsessions with power do not a shattered colon make.
Theme: Inhaling, chugging, and damn near swallowing the mighty girth of cock. Perhaps it’s Halford’s inflated sense of self, but I’m sticking with K.K. Downing on this one.
Key lyric: “And all the pressure that’s been building up…For all the years it bore the load…The cracks appear, the frame starts to distort…Ready to explode.”
Bath House Barometer: 10 – Coiled vipers, poison coming to a boil, contorted muscles….it’s an S&M frenzy unlike any in the Priest canon. But there’s regret afoot; it didn’t have to be this way. But if you ignore the rod for too long, it’s bound to tear you asunder.
Rock Hard Ride Free
Theme: It’s too easy to conclude that the story involves an erect nomad and some complimentary anal assault he receives in a
London alley. No, it’s simply another tale of taking the reigns and giving your enemies no quarter. Who knew that Priest fans were so beleaguered?
Key lyric: “Rock hard with a purpose…Got a mind that won’t bend…Die hard resolution…That is true to the end.”
Bath House Barometer: 7 – There’s too much sexual determination to ignore outright, but as nothing’s shooting forth or causing the ground to quake, it’s best to treat it as an inspiring fascist ditty.
Theme: Sooner or later, you’re going to be alone among the ashes of a vanquished world, set to meet shadowy figures who have every intention of sending you to hell. Welcome to puberty.
Key lyric: “Upon this sign the challengers, with shrieks and cries rush forth…The knives fly out like bullets, upon their deadly course.”
Bath House Barometer: 6 – Groaning, flowing blood, visions of scarred chests…yeah, it sounds too good to be true, but our hero is trying to keep hope alive, not pause to snare a fuck on the cusp of Armageddon.
Theme: Once the sun sets and you crawl into bed, you’re in danger of being assaulted, raped, and possibly drained of your bodily fluids. It could be a vampire, but I’m guessing Richard Ramirez.
Key lyric: “Into your room, where in deep sleep…There you lie still, to you I creep…Then I descend, close to your lips…Across you I bend, you smile as I sip.”
Bath House Barometer: 8 – There’s a lot about being sucked dry and bled white, but “owning your soul” is less gay than the usual Priestian lust for arbitrary power. Still, if the religious tracts are true, men copulate not out of joy, but self-loathing and violent impulse.
Eat Me Alive
Theme: Brutal rape need not have a downside. Not in the gay community at least.
Key lyric: “Bound to deliver as you give and I collect…Squealing in passion as the rod of steel injects…Lunge to the maximum, spread-eagled to the wall…You’re well-equipped to take it all.”
Bath House Barometer: 9 – The gaping wound that was your backside will cause you grief, but all real men like it rough and ready. There’s more panting, heaving, and shooting from the hip here than in any other rock song of the era. Still, at gunpoint?
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
Theme: Violent revolution is just around the corner, as is your scream-filled, hellish death.
Key lyric: “The power-mad freaks who are ruling the earth, will show how little they think you’re worth…With animal lust they’ll devour your life, and slice your world to bits like a knife.”
Bath House Barometer: 3 – No real sexual heat, just a sad planet that can’t keep from blowing itself up. Why, oh why, is the world of the Priest ruled by such humorless dichotomies? Fuck hard or die slow? It’s the bleakest metal universe yet.
Night Comes Down
Theme: Yeah, yeah…setting suns, you’re all alone, and likely to die in misery. You don’t need to get some every fucking night, chief.
Key lyric: “As the light starts to dim, the fear closes in, and the nightmares begin…”
Bath House Barometer: 4 – Pain and sorrow follow from not being naked and erect, but there’s a defiant tenderness here that transcends sexual preference. Rob could just as easily be howling to a woman that escaped his stank-filled lair.
Theme: Another day, another sexual conquest split in two like a besieged atom.
Key lyric: “We’ll rise inside ya till the power splits your head…We’re gonna rock ya till your metal hunger’s fed.”
Bath House Barometer: 4 – To be fair, and depending on your mood, this is either a sick, demented gang-rape fantasy, or an ode to the power of rock ‘n roll. Perhaps they’re not mutually exclusive.
Defenders of the Faith
Theme: God is alive and well and standing before you clad proudly in crotchless, though studded, leather pants.
Key lyric: “We are defenders of the faith.”
Bath House Barometer: 1 – Not a real song, so much as a final cheer for Priest’s power to heal the wounds of a battered world. What are they defending, exactly? Nothing less monumental than the duty of every red-blooded American male to harness the orgasm to right all wrongs. Or die trying.