What more can be said about Judas Priest? They’re pioneers of an entire ecosystem of music and culture. They’re your favorite band’s favorite band, and maybe even your favorite band, as well. Rob Halford is arguably the most iconic singer in metal history. Priest’s foundational guitarists, K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, have made noises — hell, sensations — with their instruments that will never stop boggling minds.

So what’s their best song? With 18 studio albums worth of material to sift through, we asked our readers to take a deep breath and go with their gut while choosing their personal favorite Priest cut. The top five vote-getters are ranked accordingly below.

5. “The Sentinel”

“All fear the sentinel.” That’s the warning Halford delivers here with the quivering shriek of an old wizard shaking his finger at a mortal foe, casting a fiendish curse upon him while lightning strikes above. Priest’s music is full of vivid, fantastical color, and “The Sentinel” is a prime example, especially the rainbow psychedelia of its far-out breakdown, and the flashy guitar Olympics of its string-bending solo.

4. “Metal Meltdown”

Judas Priest come from the era when if a band put the word “metal” in the song title, it was a good indication that the tune was gonna fucking crush. “Metal Meltdown” doesn’t disappoint, opening with a gear-grinding solo that’s played as fast as the bike wheels are spinning on Painkiller’s cover art. The guitar tones and the force of the drums sound so big and heavy, and Halford employs a grittier, thrashier vocal style that’s meaner than what he’s known for. Too bad it’s been retired from their setlists since the Nineties.

3. “Victim of Changes”

It was cool to see an older Priest track make the cut here. “Victim of Changes” is from the band’s second album (and first with Halford), 1976’s Sad Wings of Destiny, and it’s abundantly steeped in the bluesy hard rock of Zeppelin and Sabbath. Priest had yet to imbue heavy metal with its galloping speed when this song was made, but it’s still got all the shreddy guitar chops and acrobatic vocal flair that would become their signature in the following decades. Plus, that riff.

2. “Beyond the Realms of Death”

Songs like “Beyond the Realms of Death” are why so many metalheads rolled their eyes at the hammy, hair-metal power ballads that dominated the Eighties. Why couldn’t they muster the beauty, grace and power like Priest did here in 1978? This gem from Stained Class is both catchy and emotionally gripping, dealing with the difficult topic of suicide in a way that’s haunting, aching and not corny. Downing and Tipton each get a chance to let solos rip. Yeah, this is the platonic ideal of power balladry.

1. “Painkiller”

While the average normie who only knows Priest from bar jukeboxes and the occasional football stadium soundtrack would’ve chosen “Breaking the Law,” the obvious pick for any true fan is “Painkiller.” It’s just the one, and amazingly, they penned it nearly 20 years after their career got a proper start. The instrumentation has the reckless-but-in-control fury of a motorcycle maniac gunning down a desert back road, Halford’s vocal delivery is at its most powerful, and the solos … by god the solos are fucking tremendous. Play it loud, forever and ever.

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