Sonic relief was in short supply at the Capital Centre last night. True to form, the British rock band Judas Priest blitzed the arena, unleashing its heavy-metals anthems, a thunderous wall of sound that proved impenetrable even to the cheers of nearly 17,000 fans.

Metal madness prevailed. Clouds of smoke belched from the stage. Twin guitars locked in violent combat. Crunching power chords jolted the ears, and Rob Halford's singing, shot through with reverberation, ricocheted off the walls. Moronic macho posturing passed for showmanship (Halford was decked out in the usual chains, leather and Luftwaffe cap). In short, it was just what the crowd came to hear and see.

Despite the band's musical excesses and impoverished imagination, the show was surprisingly well-paced. It moved quickly from the initial blast of "Electric Eye" through a vocal-cord-ravaging "Bloodstone" and into the band's best-selling battle cries. Throughout, Halford's octave-leaping vocals withstood torturous punishment, and guitarists Glenn Tipton and Kenneth Downing and especially drummer Dave Holland delighted the crowd by constantly pushing the music to the extreme.

Winner of the most ludicrous song of the night? Easy. The band's brutal manhandling of Joan Baez's "Diamonds and Rust."