It’s not that often when metal creeps its way into mainstream pop culture. So when metal/hard rock acts do actually pop up in beloved sitcoms, dramatic films, cartoons or even reality series, it’s kind of awesome. So in the weekly column Remember When, Metal Insider recalls the most random instances of metal’s elite appearing in front of the camera.
Right now, every metalhead is up at arms over Brent Hinds of Mastodon proclaiming that Judas Priest are not metal. Yet just a few years ago, metalheads were making a big fuss over Rob Halford and company being labeled as death metal by a legendary animated show.
It occurred in a January 2014 episode of The Simpsons, where Homer was the focus of an FBI anti-piracy investigation for illegal film downloading. One thing leads to another, and Homer and family are hiding from the FBI at a Swedish consult. So naturally the FBI has Judas Priest come in to sing “Respecting The Law” (a parody of their hit “Breaking The Law”) in an attempt to force the family to surrender.
“They invited me to a read-through, so I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll come and hang out,” Rob Halford recalled during an interview later that same year with Seattle’s KISW radio station. “It was, like, the most surreal thing ever, but the biggest thrill of my life, because I’ve been a Simpsons fan since that show first kicked off … It was very, very sweet. Some of the actors knew Priest and we shook hands and we took some pictures and so forth.”
Of course, what fans most remember about this otherwise cool cameo is Judas Priest being mislabeled as death metal not once, but twice. “There’s only one surefire way to get fugitives out of a foreign building … blasting death metal,” says an FBI agent before Judas Priest appear. Then to add more salt to the wound, the Swedish consulate member who’s protecting the Simpson family says while headbanging, “Swedes love death metal, it reminds us of death!”
However, proving that The Simpsons will always be the coolest, the show made amends to fans when they had Bart Simpson write “Judas Priest is NOT death metal” during a follow-up episode’s opening chalkboard gag. It was a gesture that delighted the entire metal community, including Halford himself.
“They didn’t need to do that, but that’s what I love about The Simpsons people,” Halford said in the same interview with KISW. “They’re sooo protective of their brand and everything that’s associated with it that that was a really, really beautiful gesture on their part to throw that back at Priest. Because we treasure everything about Priest… so they needn’t have done that, but they did, and I thought that was a really, really cool thing.”
Relive the moment that Judas Priest were described as death metal by The Simpsons below.