Judas Priest
Invincible Shield

Judas Priest will go down as one of the greatest Heavy Metal bands of all time – without a shadow of a doubt.  This is the first time for me reviewing a Priest album and I am excited to do so.  I will say this….sometimes I get overly excited reviewing some of my favorite bands.  I really did with that last Iron Maiden album Senjutsu, although I pointed out some criticisms such as the abominable length of the album and the album not moving like past efforts, plus Maiden are my favorite band.  The album is good, but not great and when I put their last few efforts up against Judas Priest, it’s highly evident, as I take off my rose-colored glasses, the last several Priest albums smoke….and I mean smoke the last few Maiden albums.  Not even close.

Judas Priest makes metal not just for us seasoned folks, but for the younger audiences as well, and while Maiden are stuck in this rut of exceedingly long double albums Judas Priest, ever since Angel of Retribution back in 2005, have been intent on recapturing that Painkiller Priest era, and they have succeeded.  BTW, I do like the non-Halford era albums, Jugulator and Demolition…so there.  The last Priest album, Firepower, from 2018, jumped out of the starting gates and with various components of massive metal moments, speed/thrash moments and moodier sections, that is one of the finest albums the band has done.  Not wanting to rest on their laurels The Metal Godz, with Invincible Shield, may have delivered one of the last great Heavy Metal albums of our time.  I say this with peace and love, but knowing several of the band members well into their 70’s will they ever release another album??  If not, who gives AF, because from start to finish this album smokes….and kicks the ever living crap out of the last Maiden album..not even close.  This album is aggressive and produced beautifully.

“Panic Attack” starts with an atmospheric buildup of Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner’s guitars and probably Richie did all the rhythm work, I would assume.  Once the music hits, it’s pure Heavy Metal and Rob Halford, sounds possessed with his vocals and Scott Travis continues to make a believer out of us all as to why he is still one of the greatest metal drummers of all time. Ian Hill’s bass is audible and serviceable as well.  The guitar soloing going on is fantastic and the chorus is catchy and snappy.  How does Halford still hold out those highs?????  The speeding thrashing attack towards the end of the song with the chorus then back to the mid-paced and soloing is outstanding.  This will be their live song opener for their tour, no doubt.

“The Serpent and the King” is up next with a similar mid-paced metal anthem like the album opener.  This song moves to the point that this is circle-pit worthy, no shit, I kid you not.  Excellent drum rolls and the guitar solo at the 2.30 mark will shred your skin from top to bottom.  There is a killer slow-down groove moment as well and with that brutal double bass ending and Halford letting loose with a scream…one cannot catch their breath until the title track choke slams you with the next song. This song moves….. mid-paced, but quicker than the last two songs and Halford singing like a man possessed.  The layered chorus moments are spectacular.  This song has some metal moments pulling from all of their albums and the rhythm section is bludgeoning.

“As God Is My Witness”, with that opening guitar slide and right into the bludgeoning proto mid-paced speed metal attack, brings in that Painkiller element and this is one of the best songs Judas Priest has done in recent memory.  The chorus is epic and slows down the song and then back into that crushing metal attack.  That isolated guitar riff at the 1.15 mark returns and BOOM…right into that bludgeoning attack.  Played live this song could lay everyone out in 0.0 seconds.  The song picks up a little thrash gallop and just beautifully played and more of that guitar slide action going on.  This song owns, from start to finish.  This edition has 3 extra songs and they fit great on the album.

“Fight of Your Life” is poppier metal and “Vicious Circle” is an epic and killer metal song and at only 3 minutes the band fits a lot into this song.  “The Lodger” has some great lyrics, “Vengeance is miiiiinnneee, said The Lodger”….so catchy and this moment is a shout-out to my close friend Jason “Slips Majinsky”, he worships this new Priest and really enjoys this song.  This is a great slow brooding number and is similar in nature to the regular edition album closer “Giants in the Sky”.  Across the album, there are slower moments such as “Crown of Horns”.  It’s a moody song, with still some bombastic vocal and musical moments.

Judas Priest’s Invincible Shield comes in various editions and this deluxe hardcover has an expanded booklet and the 3 extra songs.  The presentation matches the music – it’s incredible.  This album has it all, true Heavy Metal, with nods to all of the Priest era material, from metal anthem moments, slow and brooding sections and then that proto speed/thrash metal they ushered in with the 1990 untouchable Painkiller album, saw them on that killer tour.

This is a metal album for all age groups and keeping the average song length to four and a half minutes showcases a band knowing how to hit the fans square between the eyes and not bore them.  It’s one of the strongest Judas Priest albums of all time…and one of this year’s very best albums.  To me, no it is not better than Painkiller.  But remember I have been listening to that album for decades and I cannot make that jump so early in the release of this album, to make such a claim.  But as one of the more “extreme”, if you will, Judas Priest albums, Invincible Shield fits perfectly with the Halford-led Painkiller, Angel of Retribution, and Firepower albums.  Scorching, memorable, and expertly played Judas Priest has returned to kick our asses once again.  Buy or Die!!

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
March 18th, 2024

Comments

  1. Commented by: J. Mays

    When I first listened to this, I thought “How are they still doing this?” Once that wore off, I figured it would settle into being a good album, but not great. Nah, it’s the shit. Maybe the best album released this year.


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