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Sony's The Essential Judas Priest collection is the perfect middle ground for those who found 2004's four-disc Metalogy box a bit too daunting. Each and every one of the 34 tracks is indispensable, chronicling the group's rise from Queen-worshipping debutantes to revolutionary metal gods. It's often the case that when career retrospectives take a non-linear approach to their sequencing, the resulting play list becomes a mess of clashing recording techniques and jarring style changes, but Priest has always held true to its vision, experimenting early on with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in ways that seamlessly bridged the gap between their Gull and Columbia years. From the opening avatar scream of 2005's comeback single "Judas Rising" to the introductory guitar swells of Screaming for Vengeance's "The Hellion/Electric Eye" -- no live cuts or Tim "Ripper" Owens-era tracks were included -- this is one compilation that's worthy of its moniker.