Judas Priest show the kids how its done on new album ‘Invincible Shield’

When Judas Priest Rocka Rolla’d their way onto the scene in 1974, heavy metal was still largely in its infancy. Since then, the genre has exploded in popularity and scattered into a myriad of diverse sub-genres and styles, not least in-part due to a handful of seminal albums in Judas Priest’s discography influencing vast swathes of the music that was to come. 

British Steel (1980) and Painkiller (1990) are cornerstones of the genre, both solidifying the band as titans in the scene. However, Judas Priest’s catalogue is much more than their most famous output.Turbo (1986) saw the band incorporate synths heavily into their sound, Nostradamus (2008) had a distinctly proggy element to it, and Point of Entry (1981) was an album that relaxed the band’s sound with less bite, less grit and well, less Judas Priest.       

All this to say, Judas Priest has never been averse to trying something new. But when guitarist Richie Faulkner joined the band in 2011, some conversations must have been had.  Since then, Judas Priest have done nothing but release undiluted, unapologetic heavy metal to absolutely astounding effect. Redeemer of Souls (2014) saw the band hit highs not seen since the aforementioned Painkiller, which only improved on 2018’s Firepower. Firepower saw the band adopt a shiny new, modern metal production style. This was largely due to the addition of Andy Sneap and Tom Allom as producers – a decision that may go down as one of the finest in metal history. 

Due to this, expectations were high going into the new Judas Priest album, Invincible Shield. So rejoice metal maniacs, as I’m happy to report that Judas Priest continue to prove why heavy metal will never die. It’s almost unbelievable how a band that has been together for five decades can release an album that sounds this youthful, powerful and consistent from front to back. Right from the kickoff, opening track ‘“Panic Attack” evokes an aura of Judas Priest in their prime. Pounding drums, thick NWOBHM guitar riffs and Rob Halford (in his 70’s no less) screeching like the best of them. This unrelenting energy continues into the following two tracks “The Serpent and the King” and the title track, “Invincible Shield”. Both offer some of Scott Travis’ finest drumming in the band to date, some incredible guitar solo work from Faulkner and Glenn Tipton and some rock-solid heavy metal songwriting.

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The album isn’t all full-on speed though, with tracks like “Devil in Disguise,” “Trial by Fire,” andEscape from Reality” offering some excellent mid-tempo riffage. The latter in particular gives longtime bassist Ian Hill a time to shine with some great bass work. “Fight of Your Life” is another highlight in this category, with some fantastic blues inspired riffs at perfect headbanging pace.

However, it has to be said – the true highlight of this album is Rob Halford’s continually outstanding vocal performances. The ‘metal god’ is 72 now and could still give metal singers in their 20s a run for their money. From piercing highs to a crystal clear baritone, Halford shows no signs of stopping and I hope he never does.

The only minor criticism I have of Invincible Shield is that the deluxe edition tracks are slightly weaker than the rest of the record. Which, for a band’s 19th studio album, is a pretty minor nitpick. “Vicious Circle” and “The Lodger” aren’t bad by any means but are largely forgettable when put up alongside the stronger tracks found in the standard edition.

With Invincible Shield, Judas Priest have released one of their finest records to date and continue to be a shining example of why age is no excuse for losing your youthfulness. Long may they reign!

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