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Judas Priest - Invincible Shield review



Reviewer:
8.5

432 users:
8.47
Band: Judas Priest
Album: Invincible Shield
Style: Heavy metal
Release date: March 2024


01. Panic Attack
02. The Serpent And The King
03. Invincible Shield
04. Devil In Disguise
05. Gates Of Hell
06. Crown Of Horns
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 [bonus]
13. Vicious Circle [bonus]
14. The Lodger [bonus]

Invincible Shield is to Firepower what Defenders Of The Faith was to Screaming For Vengeance: reaffirmation of the recovery, capitalization on the success, the follow-through on a trailblazer. Judas Priest, as ever, delivering the greats.

Firepower was nothing less than astonishing: it rocketed out of nowhere with Judas Priest’s best material in almost three decades, not only a tire-burning full-speed reverse after the release of one of their weakest albums, but arriving at a point in their career when anyone would have excused them for bowing out quietly as a lauded legacy act. It was so unbelievable, in fact, that it seemed irreplicable: I had reservations about Priest even attempting a sequel, figuring that they had gotten lucky and they oughtn’t tempt fate in greed, especially six years and one pandemic later. Evidently Firepower was no mere fluke, for Invincible Shield delivers all the same vitality, all the same fervor, all the same hot-rocking licks crackling with electricity. Even with the shock factor of Firepower largely dissipated, it’s surprising just how pure and energetic the band sounds after all these years.

That starts with Rob Halford, who, contrary to conventional patterns of human aging, has only strengthened his techniques with time. Impossible though it seems, his mid-range vocals are the best they’ve ever been: he attacks his lines with a biting, metallic tone and a stern delivery that slashes through the mix. Even if he had shied away from his upper register for the whole album, he would cut an exemplary figure as a frontman, exuding control and confidence that far surpass the wild wails of his younger years. And with all the shrieks and high harmonies peppering the album, it sure doesn’t sound like he’s easing off the throttle; if anything, he seems just as fascinated as anyone with his continued ability to scrape the ceiling. While Halford leads from the front, propelling the band from the back is Scott Travis: well established by now as Priest’s longest-serving and most prolific drummer, Travis kicks up thunder with the same gusto he introduced on Painkiller.

It's not just the band itself that’s in fabulous fettle: the revitalizing potion that Andy Sneap and Tom Allom applied to the band’s sound on Firepower they have again concocted for Invincible Shield. These two albums make natural sonic bedfellows, hence the comparison to Priest’s earlier classic duology, and Invincible Shield may even surpass Firepower in warmth, richness, and energy. Sneap takes the larger role this time around, and his appearance in the title track’s music video shows him being pulled more into the fold. I’m sure I speak for most Priest fans when I say that there is some bittersweetness in seeing Judas Priest come this far without K.K. Downing and in acknowledging that Glenn Tipton has had to take on a much-reduced role due to his condition, but you could not ask for a more enthusiastic, more respectful, and more incredible job of shoring up the band than what Richie Faulkner and Andy Sneap have done in these last few years. Priest have also made it clear that Tipton is still very much part of the band (and is still writing), whatever his limitations night to night, so when I listen to these albums, I hear continuity with those decades-old classics and some amount of pride in Judas Priest for not just carrying on but pulling the entire genre along behind them.

One such thing that strikes me about Invincible Shield is the number of songs with guitar-only or guitar-centric intros. It’s a mark of Priest’s writing going way back – “Victim Of Changes”, “The Hellion”, “The Sentinel”, “Judas Rising”, etc. – but it seems like there’s a higher concentration here, and they tend to be more layered and more complex than usual. “Panic Attack” also marks the first use of synths in such an obvious fashion in a long time, with the heavy reverb on the drums to remind us that Judas Priest, too, once had this phase (and it was kickass, however dated it might be now). Lyrically, the album dwells more on religious themes and iconography than usual. Given all this and the beautiful sound that envelops the album, Invincible Shield is one of the more emotional-sounding Priest albums, comparable to Demolition and Screaming For Vengeance, and that suits me just fine, given that listening to it is in itself an emotional experience.

If you took off the Judas Priest logo and sold this as the debut album of five 20-year-olds from Ass-End, Kansas (that’s the state capital), this would still rank among the best metal albums of the year. Slap the logo back on and it still ranks high in one of the best discographies anyone’s racked up in heavy metal. We have a few bands on this website that have released albums 50 (or more) years apart: Scorpions, Alice Cooper, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, Blue Öyster Cult, Jethro Tull, The Who, ZZ Top, BangPat Boone… but none of them packed the same punch on both ends of the timeline. This album comes six months before the 50th anniversary of Rocka Rolla, a debut that introduced Judas Priest as a leadfooted rock band who, for all their flowing garments and hippie tendencies and progressive influences, packed a heavy streak that made them stand out against their contemporaries. And now, 50 years later, most of their contemporaries have come and gone – hell, most of their followers and their followers’ followers have come and gone – and Priest are still here. Judas Priest was born heavy metal and they’ll die heavy metal… but not any time soon.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Production: 9





Written on 16.04.2024 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments

Comments: 13   Visited by: 181 users
16.04.2024 - 09:05
Zap
Guest
The enthusiasm in this review makes me want to listen to the album again.
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16.04.2024 - 09:34
Rating: 8
F3ynman
Nocturnal Bro
Contributor
Hell yeah! This was such a heart-warming read! I especially like the comparison to the duo of Screaming and Defenders, which were, in fact, my first two exposures to Judas Priest.
Long live the Metal Gods!
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16.04.2024 - 11:04
nikarg
Staff
Finally, the review we have all been waiting for

That intro says it all.
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16.04.2024 - 14:31
Rating: 8
Blackcrowe
A great record… Not just because those guys are old, forget that, the record is very good from a professional band, Judas Priest always challenges their limits
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Maybe as his eyes are wide.
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16.04.2024 - 15:20
DarkWingedSoul
Great review, lives up to the album !
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16.04.2024 - 20:37
Fuck the quill pen... the shield is mightier than the sword. a gushing review worthy of a collective gush of astonishment n encapsulated reverence...

leave it to SSUS to kill the hammer on the head of the nail of important heavy/trad. or the (regretfully) waning folk sub-genre... or occasional Sigh review =D... n tell it like it is instead of the crap precedent of knee-jerk, abject criticism that magnify caveats that are ultimately empty, erroneous knit-pickery or altogether nonexistent outside the realms of embellished, exaggerated, faulty pitfalls in subjectivity.

noyce review brvh!

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No one can fend off 100 multi-colored Draculas
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16.04.2024 - 22:28
poring dark
Written by F3ynman on 16.04.2024 at 09:34

This was such a heart-warming read!

Can't say it any better than that!
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17.04.2024 - 04:25
Rating: 7
sbgmetal
The songs are either really good or just kind of bland, I also wonder how much solo work Tipton actually did on this one?
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17.04.2024 - 08:50
Rating: 9
Cynic Metalhead
Paisa Vich Nasha
Phenomenal review.

I think your words were describing notes on the new JD's record.
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18.04.2024 - 15:03
Daniell
_爱情_
Elite
Written by sbgmetal on 17.04.2024 at 04:25

The songs are either really good or just kind of bland, I also wonder how much solo work Tipton actually did on this one?

Possibly there are zero solos by Glen on the album. It doesn't matter at all. His condition doesn't let him play at a high level anymore, and it's understandable. He still is part of the band and contributes riffs and ideas.
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19.04.2024 - 06:48
Rating: 7
sbgmetal
Written by Daniell on 18.04.2024 at 15:03

Written by sbgmetal on 17.04.2024 at 04:25

The songs are either really good or just kind of bland, I also wonder how much solo work Tipton actually did on this one?

Possibly there are zero solos by Glen on the album. It doesn't matter at all. His condition doesn't let him play at a high level anymore, and it's understandable. He still is part of the band and contributes riffs and ideas.


You're probably right and if that's so Faulkner did a pretty good job sounding like him
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19.04.2024 - 08:52
Daniell
_爱情_
Elite
Written by sbgmetal on 19.04.2024 at 06:48

You're probably right and if that's so Faulkner did a pretty good job sounding like him

When I saw them live in 2018, I had an early entrance ticket, so I was quite close to the stage, slightly to the left, where Richie usually is. I paid close attention when he played solos. I was blown away how great he was at re-creating the original solos (especially "Painkiller"). It's obviously impossible to play them exactly like Tipton/Downing, but what Faulkner did was as good as it gets.
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17.05.2024 - 00:43
Arcticus
I like the album, but there are a few too many mid-tempo plodders for me to really get into it. Maybe I just need to spin it a few more times. "Panic Attack", the title track, "As God is My Witness" and "Sons of Thunder" are the standouts for me, and the rest are a bit forgettable ("Giants in the Sky" is a nice tribute to fallen legends though). At the end of the day it really is remarkable that Priest are still capable of something this good, so I do appreciate the album from that perspective (and the production is fantastic). Great review in any case, and the Vengeance/Defenders comparison definitely feels apt.
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