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!