Album Review: Judas Priest - Invincible Shield

Album Review: Judas Priest - Invincible Shield


Judas Priest are living legends. Regardless of what sub-genre of music you listen to, everyone has at least heard the name 'Judas Priest' and over the last 50 years, various bands have cited them as both inspirations for their own material and personal heroes. One of the most influential and renowned metal bands of all time, spear-heading the emergence of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal genre of the 80s and continuing to obliterate the world with their muscular riffs and theatrically fiery stage presence. Judas Priest are not slowing down.

Invincible Shield was announced onstage at the Powertrip Festival in California. It's the band's first release in 6 years and the successor to 2018's highly successful and statement-making Firepower. Can Invincible Shield match this level of perfection? The answer to this question is yes. In fact, it completely nukes it from its lofty perch and takes the crown by force.

Kicking things off with 'Panic Attack;' a homage to the 80s with groove-synths and melodic riffage which builds to a galloping charge led by Rob Halford's iconic vocals. As far as opening tracks and leading singles go, Judas Priest have started off strong here and it has definitely set the astounding tone for the rest of the record. 'The Serpent and the King' is the most recent track to be released ahead of the album's official release and Halford's high pitched vocals rip through the atmosphere of frantic riffage and thunderous drums. With a catchy, mid-tempo chorus and flying solos, this track is bound to be a huge crowd pleaser. The title track boasts a rampaging pace that explodes with attitude, rousing classical-infused build-ups and chant-worthy choruses. 'Devil In Disguise' slows things down to a chugging, groovy, mid-tempo riff-a-thon full of heavy basslines and a rolling storm of rhythmical drums. 'Gates Of Hell' opens with a brief single melodic guitar riff before the dual guitars and drums come in to play, creating a dynamic mood which gradually builds once again to an epic dual guitar attack. Halford's vocals croon and soar through the atmosphere with another catchy chorus that is guaranteed to get the crowd chanting back. The guitar solo in this track is particularly noteworthy and soaring with its various layers and intricacies on a backdrop of dramatic synths.

'Crown of Horns' continues in the same vein with a dramatic solo echoing through the void. A classic Judas Priest power ballad full of emotive energy that strikes you straight in the soul. 'As God Is My Witness' picks the pace up again with a charging onslaught of frantic riffage, rich solos, blistering blast-beats and Halford's powerful vocals. Blending thrashy elements in to their sound, this track packs a ferocious punch and commands your attention which is perfectly placed after the album's power ballad. 'Trial By Fire' screams with opulence; a tolling bell in the background of a building guitar riff and haunting vocalisations before crashing in to a mid-tempo stomp, chugging basslines and a powerful chorus. 'Escape From Reality' twists and turns with its heavy, chugging groove elements and rhythmical beats. There's something dark and sinister about this track with Halford's moody vocals and continuous rolling riffs and drums. 'Sons of Thunder' continues the charge with sheer determination with chanting choruses and an incredibly intense guitar presence.

'Giants in the Sky' has a blues-style atmosphere which is heavy on the groove and chugging guitars. A homage to the likes of Motorhead's Lemmy and Dio, this track tells the tale of the mark these legends have left on the world. A brief acoustic section with Halford's smooth vocals acts as a brief respite from the intensity before it picks up again. 'Fight Of Your Life' goes straight in to gear with pure Rock n Roll; funky melodic riffs, thunderous drums and an air of superiority. Halford's trademark shrill vocals pierce the air and then glide in to a muscular chorus guaranteed to get your head banging along with the beat. The penultimate track 'Vicious Cycle' does not relent and charges forward with a continuous gallop of chuggy guitars and rolling drum beats. Finally, 'The Lodger' closes this monumental record with haunting synths and dramatic, sinister riff. At over 70 years of age, Halford's vocal abilities are still incredibly versatile and powerful. An operatic conclusion full of supporting orchestration, dramatic flair, incredible guitars and dynamic story-telling from the Metal God.

Judas Priest have proven once again that their aptitude for longevity, relevance and expertly delivered pure Heavy Metal is God Tier. Every aspect of this record excels and is perfectly executed, radiating with attitude and sublime musical prowess. 50 years down the line, Judas Priest are still destroying worlds and Invincible Shield is definitely a strong contender for 2024's Album of the Year.

Rating: 9/10
Release Date: March 8th 2024
Released By: Sony Entertainment UK Limited
FFO: Iron Maiden, Saxon, Overkill

Track List:

01 - Panic Attack
02 - The Serpent and the King
03 - Invincible Shield
04 - Devil In Disguise
05 - Gates Of Hell
06 - Crown Of Thorns  
07 - As God Is My Witness
08 - Trial By Fire      
09 - Escape From Reality
10 - Sons Of Thunder
11 - Giants In The Sky
12 - Fight Of Your Life
13 - Vicious Circle
14 - The Lodger

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