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(UK/GERMANY: Iron Pages/IP Verlag, 2009; 224 pages, PB. ISBN: 978-3931624569)
Al Atkins is the former lead singer and founder of the multi-million selling British metal band Judas Priest. But where and when did it all begin? During the sixties when the highly lauded Brum Beat era produced bands such as The Move, Atkins played in various semi-pro outfits. It was in 1969 that Atkins decided to have a go at forming yet another band with his childhood friend Bruno Stapenhill. The band in question was Judas Priest. Priest quickly built up a reputation in the Midlands as a powerful live act and even secured a record deal with Immediate, which was owned by ex-Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham. Atkins even recorded the very first Judas Priest demo: 'Good Time Woman' and 'We'll Stay Together'. Unfortunately, Immediate folded and so did Priest. Undeterred, Atkins resurrected Priest with another line-up in 1970 with guitarist K.K. Downing and bassist Ian Hill. In '71 they made a 7" single acetate: 'Holy Is The Man' and 'Mind Conception'. Through the early seventies Priest supported many bands including Slade, Status Quo and Black Sabbath. A revolving line-up continued until May 1973 when Atkins finally decided to call it a day. His memoirs contain very rare archive photos and memorabilia from Judas Priest's past circa 1969-1973. Also included are interviews with various members of Priest's history. Atkins is the co-writer of several Priest songs which are included on the band's first two albums Rocka Rolla and Sad Wings Of Destiny both of which eventually went Gold. Atkins co-penned the heavy metal classic 'Victim Of Changes'. With a foreword by Judas Priest bassist Ian Hill, Dawn Of The Metal Gods is not just a book for Judas Priest fans but a bible for all those wishing to form a band in the tumultuous world of heavy metal.
"Dawn Of The Metal Gods: My Life in Judas Priest And Heavy Metal is written in a very informal style, with Atkins giving his opinions on the music of the day as he is telling his own story. Atkins is still making music, and his recent solo albums have been well received. Fans of Judas Priest will find this book about the earliest days of the band compelling, but Dawn Of The Metal Gods: My Life in Judas Priest And Heavy Metal is also an interesting tale of a working musician whose former band went onto riches and fame. Atkins could easily be bitter and angry, but in this book he seems gracious and is still a fan of his former band."
Chad Bower – About.com Heavy Metal (www.heavymetal.about.com)
"Of course the parts in which Al mentions his time in Judas Priest is the part most fans will clamour for and this is probably the best bit of the book...and knowing Al quit rather than being pushed out surprised me the most. It was also interesting that like Blaze Bayley, after he got the mainstream acceptance Al still managed to retain a cult following with a new band so at least the passion was still alive. Overall if you want to know a forgotten part of Judas Priests history then buy Dawn Of The Metal Gods by Al Atkins."
Matt Dawson – AltSounds (www.hangout.altsounds.com)
"...Atkins with the help of well known British scribe Neil Daniels, has written a splendid and intriguing memoir which takes an in depth look the genesis of one of metal's premier bands. In addition he also provides an equally interesting summation of the music scene in and around England at what was a pivotal time in hard rock."
Ryan Sparks – Classic Rock Revisited (www.classicrockrevisited.com)
"Anybody remotely interested in Judas Priest or the birth of heavy metal needs to read this...The authors have gathered interviews with other Priest members to create a fully fleshed overview of the Brummy band's rise to metal greatness. There are also some illuminating photos from Atkins's own collection."
Steven Rosen – Curled Up With A Good Book (www.curledup.com)
"You'll read about the bands that Atkins formed and the pros and cons of being done before he really started and probably the most interesting things in the book are his thoughts on Judas Priest's moves from album to album, tour to tour and everything in between."
Tom Vader – Deathstar330 Blog (www.deathstar330.blogspot.com)
"The book is spiced with testimonies from band members and acquaintances through the years which leads us to the impression that Atkins is a talented good egg who may not have fully realised his potential. This is a well produced book with some excellent archive photographic material..."
David Randall – Get Ready To Rock (www.getreadytorock.com)
"Above and beyond reading Atkins' life story, I learned an incredible amount about rock music, early British music history, of course early Judas Priest. If you are like myself and had doubts as to the validity of this book, cast them, aside and grab Dawn Of The Metal Gods."
Joshua Wood – Metal-Rules (www.metal-rules.com)
"The book is co-authored by Neil Daniels, who previously wrote a book about Judas Priest, so in a way this an extension to that story. Whereas the Priest book was a well-researched, detailed one, this is more of a personal type of book. Atkins comes across as a straight-forward, down-to-earth kind of a guy who doesn't try to glorify his part in the Priest saga.... It's certainly different to the dozens of 'rags to riches' stories, giving the reader a glimpse of the not-so-glamourous world of a touring musician."
Kimmo Toivonen – Rock United (www.rockunited.com)
"With Daniels' assistance the narrative springs to life and you get a real sense of what it must have been like during Priest's formative years. A list of gigs at the end tells us that Priest played alongside Black Sabbath on May 26th 1971 at the Masonic Hall in Walsall; and if anyone was at that gig then it is surely one to tell your grandparents about! A thoroughly engaging account of an era when metal was in its infancy..."
Dean Pedley – Sea Of Tranquility (www.seaoftranquility.org)
"...this type of book is far better than the usual few years rehearsing and getting a recording deal, followed by tour itineraries and yawnsome arsing about with a few old magazine snippets thrown in. After all these are the boats known to most of us and admirably Atkins is one you can salute for continuing rockin', not merely being about to, without actually hearing his music. Never does he come across as self-serving or self-obsessed, vainly attesting to his own unrecognised talents and sulking about his lack of success."
Stu Gibson – Sleezegrinder (www.sleazegrinder.blogspot.com)
"...the original PRIEST singer AL ATKINS has written a book about that period (1969-1973), which of course is a must-read for any dedicated JUDAS PRIEST fan...This book tells it all, the true beginning of one of the most influential Metal bands from the UK. 224 pages, Al's story of this interesting period in his life, rare interviews with (ex-) members of PRIEST, exclusive pictures of the early PRIEST period with Al fronting the band and loads more, all packed in this book, written by Al himself together with NEIL DANIELS. (Points: 8.6 out of 10)"
Gabor Kleinbloesem – Strutter Zine (www.strutter.co.nr)
"...the final chapter of this book is the most entertaining. Atkins only seems to become more passionate and better received as time goes on, much like Maiden and Priest. Entertaining to some, perhaps inspiration to others."
Mark MacQueen – Black Velvet
"Al Atkins deserves his place in heavy metal history as the founder of Judas Priest...To his credit Al isn't at all resentful of Priest's stratosperic success..."
Geoff Barton – Classic Rock
"If you're a big fan of the band then this is an essential read for parts of their history that will probably never be covered elsewhere, and even has a few bits about Glenn Tipton, despite him and Atkins never being in the band at the same time. It gives one of the most graphic visions of a band trying to make it against the odds and the frustrations of being in a band, many of which are probably still relevant to most musicians today."
Phil Ashcroft – Fireworks
"'I've never reached the top...but I gave it a bloody good go!' says original Judas Priest singer Al Atkins in the introduction to his autobiography. With a foreword by Judas Priest bassist Ian Hill...Metal Gods covers the pre-fame years of the second ever metal band in entertaining detail."
Joel McIver – Metal Hammer
"...it portrays the more realistic and less glamorous side of the business. With a great colour photo section, this is an essential book for Priest devotees but it's also a worthwhile investment for the general rock fan."
Jerry Bloom – More Black Than Purple
"...this is quite a heartwarming read, with some great personal photos and bits of chat...it's a fine tale of a man's will to make the music he wanted with no compromise and his love of rock. Full marks to Neil Daniels in making what is often a band-tour–breakup-new band narrative interesting and rather a page-turner!"
Steve Swift - Powerplay
"Ghost/co writer Neil Daniels had previously penned an in-depth Priest biography, but any gaps left by that tome's relating of the band's early period are dealt with here. Atkins' musings on Priest's career without him are of interest..."
Joe Shooman – Record Collector
"It's written in an engaging style that mirror's Al's down to earth Brum roots. One man's journey through over 40 years of rock and metal."
Dave Lewis – Tight But Loose
"The book has some good photos of early Priest memorabilia."
Ross Halfin – Photographer (www.rosshalfin.com)