Heavy music is full of legendary bands boasting deep catalogs stacked with iconic songs — sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, or what to consider their best. With that in mind, we present the “Mandatory Metal” lists, which collect what we consider to be the definitive tracks from various members of the metallurgic pantheon. Up today, Judas Priest, those tried-and-true defenders of the heavy-metal faith led by self-proclaimed “Metal God” and loud-and-proud leather daddy to us all Rob Halford. Priest are still going strong, packing arenas on the backs of their critically hailed 2018 album Firepower, but in our opinion, these classic cuts are their most essential. If you disagree, sound off on The Pit Facebook page.
“BEYOND THE REALMS OF DEATH”
ALBUM: STAINED CLASS
Guitarists K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton lay down some of their best fretwork in this poignant tale of life in a vegetative state.
Sample lyrics: “Keep the world with all its sin/It’s not fit for livin’ in.”
“VICTIM OF CHANGES”
ALBUM: SAD WINGS OF DESTINY
One of the only songs in the Priest canon about (ooh, shudder) a woman.
Sample lyrics: “Takes another drink or two/Things look better when she’s through.”
ALBUM: SIN AFTER SIN
A chorus of hand claps would normally be a no-no in a metal song, but Priest employ it to glorious effect here.
Sample lyrics: “Starbreaker/Glides in from the sky/Starbreaker/Takes you up so high.”
ALBUM: DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH
One of the less popular songs from Defenders, though arguably the album’s strongest cut.
Sample lyrics: “Muscles are all contorted/Claws dug in the dirt/Every ounce of fiber on alert.”
ALBUM: SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE
The fierce opening track from the album that reestablished Priest as metal gods.
Sample lyrics: “I’m elected electric spy/I’m protected electric eye.”