Friday, May 25, 2012

Metal Friday: "Beyond the Realms of Death" by Judas Priest

All right, I probably could have picked a slightly more upbeat song headed into the much-needed Memorial Day weekend. But I had this one on the brain and could not shake it, perhaps because it's one of the finest heavy metal anthems ever recorded.

The lyrical content of "Beyond the Realms of Death" is downbeat to say the least; I'm not sure why the prosecution in the Vance-Belknap trial  (a tragic but absolutely farcical bit of metal history) spent so much effort digging for subliminal messages in "Better by You, Better than Me" when this song is already on Stained Class. Fishing for suicidal messages is unnecessary in "Beyond the Realms of Death," whose meaning bites deep and chills like the first bitter winds of winter:

I've left the world behind
I am safe here, in my mind
I'm free to speak, with my own kind
This is my life, this is my life,
I'll decide not you


Keep the world, with all its sin
It's not fit for living in


A while back I rated the top 10 heavy metal singers of all time and put Rob Halford at the top of that list. While his is a wavering position, and could easily be usurped by  the likes of Bruce Dickinson or Ronnie James Dio depending on my particular mood that day, "Beyond the Realms of Death" stands as an epic testimony for Halford's greatness as a singer. I mean, he's good on this song, m'kay?


Here's another live version from 1978 that's worth watching--Halford kills this live. Odd outfit though:



Blind Guardian also does a wonderful cover of this song that I recommend seeking out. Turn it up!

7 comments:

Michal said...

I've been listening to Judas Priest all week. This very album, coincidentally.

Though my personal tastes lean towards "Better by You, Better than Me" as the best of the lot.

Brian Murphy said...

Yeah, I love that one too. Good choice.

The Wasp said...

It's such an important album, it's where they really ditch most blues undertones setting the stage for NWOBHM. Such awesome music.

Andy said...

"I'm not sure why the prosecution in the Vance-Belknap trial (a tragic but absolutely farcical bit of metal history) spent so much effort digging for subliminal messages in "Better by You, Better than Me" when this song is already on Stained Class."

Not to mention that Better by You, Better Than Me isn't even Judas Priest's song. I don't recall anyone going after Spooky Tooth for being pro-suicide :)

jason said...

Great song--the blind guardian cover is pretty sweet, too.

Brian Murphy said...

Not to mention that Better by You, Better Than Me isn't even Judas Priest's song. I don't recall anyone going after Spooky Tooth for being pro-suicide :)

No kidding! I wonder if that ever came up in the defense :).

Michal said...

Yikes, I didn't even know it was a cover! Then again, I thought Diamonds and Rust was a Judas Priest original for the longest time...