Judas Priest - Invincible Shield
Sony Music
Heavy Metal
11 songs (52:32)
Release year: 2024
Judas Priest, Sony Music
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Quite how you follow up an album as good as Firepower is a quandary for any metal band, not least for the gods Judas Priest, who already faced a similar situation when trying to follow up Painkiller in the nineties. There, we received Jugulator and well, whatever your opinion of that Halford-less attempt, the good news is that Invincible Shield is a lot, lot better. You probably expected that, in fairness! What few would have expected is for this to be very, very nearly as good as Firepower, in some ways superior; it does lack that album's straightforward galloping exuberance and ease of listening, although the songwriting remains on that high level. Yet similarly, Invincible Shield is a pleasure from the first needle drop, the hooks just as sharp and catchy, snagging your ears and drawing you in to discover new depths on further listens. And the songs here are more varied in style and even better when given a little time to work their magic, making for a truly rewarding album.

It's an album that downright wrongfoots you initially with the very 80s, Turbo-referencing intro to opening number Panic Attack that eventually bursts into the kind of uplifting metal anthem that could have been on Firepower. The following The Serpent and the King has something of a proggy edge, making for a slightly more complex structure with plenty of time for melodic lead guitar widdling, and the title track here is downright power metal, with plenty of charging chugging and instrumental forays. As a trio of songs opening the album, you simply couldn't ask for better, and from Halford's vocals to the twin guitar attack, all are absolutely wonderful. From then the songs take a very slight step down yet still with very strong material that will take you right back to past classics, and the comparison rarely makes Invincible Shield come off worse - the groovy Devil in Disguise feels very Screaming for Vengeance, for instance. The more balladic pieces like Crown of Horns are still engrossing, as is the doomier Escape from Reality complete with Ozzy-esque effect-laden vocals for added personality, and throughout it's staggering that the 72-year-old Rob Halford still sounds this fucking good, screams and all, with none of the strain that has been creeping into the younger Bruce Dickinson's voice as of late.

Speaking of the Maiden frontman, it's interesting how Firepower and this both have songs that veer towards that band at points - some of the melodies of Trial by Fire and Gates of Hell especially. Judas Priest have always had their own sound and style and proudly so, and these touches don't detract from the songs at all. There's probably a lesson here for Maiden who arguably are pushing beyond their abilities with albums like Senjutsu when Priest are putting out some of the best albums of their career in its twilight, playing to their strengths and keeping fans happy without repetition at the same time. Giants in the Sky especially is remarkably good, referring back and updating on the commercial 80s style, managing to be a great metal song as well as fulfil its role as something of a tribute to fallen musical legends.

It, much like the album overall, is the quintessential Judas Priest experience, more than a little cheesy, yet with unmistakeable metallic energy behind it. And how much must we thank Richie Faulkner for helping to reinvigorate the band, and given that Firepower felt like the end of their career, how lucky are we to have another album so good, so soon? A remarkable nineteenth album (with three excellent bonus tracks if you can find the Deluxe Edition; Fight of Your Life's fist-pumping vigour, Vicious Circle's ominous groove, and The Lodger's weird Mercyful Fate-esque tribute to the silent Hitchcock movie of the same name) that really can only be criticised for that Marvel-esque cover art, which is simply brilliant and blandly awful at the same time. In time there will still be arguing about definitive rankings, whether Firepower or this is better; all one can really conclude for the moment with Invincible Shield is that it is absolutely awesome, and that Judas Priest are still gods.

Killing Songs :
Panic Attack, The Serpent and the King, Invincible Shield, Giants in the Sky
Goat quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Judas Priest that we have reviewed:
Judas Priest - Firepower reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Judas Priest - Redeemer of Souls reviewed by Thomas and quoted 70 / 100
Judas Priest - Killing Machine / Hell Bent for Leather reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Judas Priest - Screaming For Vengeance reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Judas Priest - Stained Class reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 22 reviews click here
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