Judas Priest
Invincible Shield


4.3
superb

Review

by Brendan Schroer STAFF
March 12th, 2024 | 136 replies


Release Date: 03/08/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 55 years into their career, these metal gods are still as vital and important as ever.

Back in 2022, a video of Judas Priest live in Austin TX would be uploaded to YouTube. The band were performing one of their most celebrated songs, “Victim of Changes”, and the atmosphere was electric. Seeing these veterans of 50+ years giving such a stellar show… well, it must have been incredible to be in that crowd. But there’s a reason I’m singling out this particular clip, as something special happened at the end. Right as the song was about to close, metal god Rob Halford let out three massive wails – all at the highest register he could muster.

WHYYYYYYYYYY?

WHYYYYYYYYYY?

WHYYYYYYYYYY?

It was at this moment that I thought to myself: these guys must truly be immortal. Judas Priest (most of the members, anyway) are in their 60s or 70s, yet they continue to run circles around most of their contemporaries. And while 2018’s Firepower wasn’t quite as good as some of their classic material, it was still an impressive showing that told any potential naysayers, “like it or not, we’ve still got it”. The chops, the energy, the songcraft, the showmanship – all of these were still delivered in spades, and the band would exhibit the same vigor in their live shows. So now, six years later, I must pop the question: could they deliver the goods again with Invincible Shield?

Spoiler alert: yes, yes they could. As soon as “Panic Attack” launches its opening salvo of triumphant guitar leads and rock-solid riffage, you know you’re in for another exciting trad metal thrill ride. So, what can we immediately glean from this opening number? Well, a few things. #1: Halford sounds even better than he did on Firepower. While I suspect that some studio magic was used on his voice here and there, that doesn’t change the fact that his power and range are still utterly ridiculous. #2: wow, there’s a lot of Painkiller influence on this thing!

Both of these points extend to a good chunk of Invincible Shield in general. Firepower already took its fair share of inspiration from Painkiller-era Priest, but this one takes it even further. Expect plenty of speed/power metal riffs and rapid double-bass drumming, especially on cuts like the title track and “As God is my Witness” – both of which allow longtime drummer Scott Travis some extra room to show off his chops. This isn’t to say the record ever slows down or is devoid of atmosphere; it just happens to show a more aggressive side of Priest than usual.

Speaking of “chops”, the musicians are more than up to the task of matching Halford’s impressive vocal performances. Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner remain a formidable guitar duo (despite the former’s recent health issues), throwing around intricate harmonies and trade-off shreds like they’re going out of style – check out “Trial By Fire” for an excellent example of both in action. Meanwhile, as one would expect, Ian Hill’s bass work is as solid and consistent as it’s always been; if I had to pick a highlight for him here, it would be his minimalist-yet-effective bass chugging on the doomy “Escape From Reality”.

Now, let’s take a look at that runtime for a second… over an hour long (including bonus tracks), which is even longer than Firepower. You’d be forgiven for thinking Invincible Shield would eventually lose its momentum over time – after all, most of the classic 70s/80s Priest records sit at a comfortable 35-45 minutes. They get you in, they get you out, and you’re satisfied. But if I were to single out Invincible Shield’s secret weapon, it would be the record’s pacing. There’s such a good balance of barnburners and midtempo anthems here, yet those latter tracks don’t lose any of the energy their speedy counterparts have. “Giants in the Sky” and “Crown of Horns” are perfect examples, with the former’s infectious blues metal licks and the latter’s fist-pumping bridge standing out in particular. Invincible Shield has many different atmospheres, moods, and tempos, yet none of them feel out of place in the tracklist.

Ok, ok… let’s back up for a second. Despite all my gushing, Invincible Shield doesn’t really do anything to innovate or reinvent the Judas Priest sound. This is meat-and-potatoes traditional metal, written and performed by a group who have their craft down to a science. But goddamn, do the meat and potatoes taste delicious. If Firepower was Judas Priest proving that they’ve still “got it”, Invincible Shield is them making sure no one else will steal their crown. Plenty of veteran classic metal acts are kicking around to this day, but none of them (not even Iron Maiden) still sound as vital, fresh, or vibrant as Judas Priest. Long live the metal gods!



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Koris
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2024


21170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Here's the Youtube clip from the first para, for those who are curious. Halford is an absolute beast:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giqwsnGA60w



Anyway, this was so good! Even better than Firepower imo

mandan
March 12th 2024


13812 Comments


m/

Will jam this maybe next month or so, along with the previous 2. I'm late to Faulkner Era Priest, but we'll see.

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2024


18257 Comments


Oh shit yes : )

Sevengill
March 12th 2024


12059 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Huh, surprised you reviewed it with the bonus tracks and still concluded it wasn't overlong. Seems like the consensus is that it's better without them.

Koris
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2024


21170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

"Huh, surprised you reviewed it with the bonus tracks and still concluded that it wasn't too long."



Ah shit, I was listening to it on streaming and didn't realize those last three songs were bonus tracks 😅 I'll edit accordingly

Koris
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2024


21170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Alright, made a few edits to account for that. Note to self: check the official version of the tracklist next time 😂



Thanks for the catch!

Hawks
March 12th 2024


88146 Comments


Gonna jam this tonight can't wait!

Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2024


2095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

The bonus tracks definitely lower the score a little bit, if only because of general fatigue that listening to this kinda music will do in one go. There's only so much you can do with Heavy Metal lol That being said, holy fuck is this thing good.



Phenomenal review too, you captured my thoughts perfectly

Sevengill
March 12th 2024


12059 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, review is pro. Easy read that covered all the bases. I find the "call out to the world" bridge pretty cringey, but that's probably inflamed by having heard "Scatman's World".

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2024


32047 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Well that's the correct rating, that's for sure ;)



Thanks for taking care of this so promptly master Koris. Great write-up!

Koris
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2024


21170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Thanks everyone, I appreciate it! :]



And yeah, this thing is way better than it has any right to be, lol

bellovddd
March 12th 2024


6010 Comments


great write up DAWG!!!

Koris
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2024


21170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Thank you DAWG!!!

Kompys2000
Emeritus
March 12th 2024


9467 Comments


Yup they still got it

Album do be kinda long tho

Kompys2000
Emeritus
March 12th 2024


9467 Comments


Great review too 👍

rockarollacola
March 12th 2024


2200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I'm so happy that my favorite band of all time is still making music of this quality. It makes me even happier that this site is loving it as much as I do.

metalphil
March 12th 2024


734 Comments


Never got into these guys but it's pretty crazy this dude can still sing like this at his age.

KingdomOfTyrant
March 12th 2024


800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

man this is awesome

Faraudo
March 12th 2024


4637 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've never been a massive Priest fan, but to see them rock as hard as they did here is really inspiring and I honestly love it.

dedex
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2024


12788 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

great read mang. They still got it innit



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