Judas Priest - Invincible Shield

Genre: Heavy Metal -

You know I personally quite liked Redeemer of Souls (2014), Judas Priest’s sort of comeback album after parting ways with founder and guitarist K.K. Downing. And I also thought Firepower (2018) was a decent enough, if slightly bloated, follow up. The message was clear though, Priest were still in the game, if not as mighty as they once were. But here we are, six years later, and Priest unveil their twentieth album, Invincible Shield; a crown of awesome glory that will shatter all disbelief - the metal gods are still as great as ever. Rob Halford at 72 sounds like a man twenty years younger; the man is vigor and hellfire, banshee screams penetrating your skull time and time again, proving once again that the Painkiller highs were no one time deal as he keeps delivering the steel with power enough to last well into the next century.

In fact, so much on here evokes memories of olden glory, packed into a modern, hell blazing package of monstrous riffing, undivided power and a well earned stroke of ego. These guys are among the GOAT’s and they damn well know it; the massive title track is an ode to Judas Priest’s own lasting firepower, spanning now over half a century. You can also definitely hear a lot of Painkiller (1990) creeping through in the sheer power and domination, but perhaps in a more thought provoking sense. Those first six tracks are hellfire and thunder, blazing steel and flaming guitars of fury. Massive riffing, melodic leads, powerful shouts and blazing solos soar like mighty eagles battling in leaden skies. Arguably there’s a slight drop after the introspective, powerful Crown of Horns - though Trial by Fire brings the veritable fire back for another smash - especially given the bonus tracks, which are the weakest of the bunch, and you could maybe even drop Sons of Thunder for an even more concise listen.

Still, there’s plenty here to show Priest have lost none of their momentum after dropping Firepower; in fact, they’ve just gained more momentum along the way. Long time producer turned twin lead guitarist Andy Sneap makes a formidable replacement for Glenn Tipton whose Parkinson’s disorder gets in the way of his performing. Obviously, everyone and their grandma misses the old Downing/Tipton solo trade-offs, but state of the world being what it is, that’s never going to happen ever again. And especially Richie Faulkner delivers the steel and the fire. Everything here comes together for a feast of glory in all things Priest; the songwriting kicks ass, the musicianship is stellar and most important of all, that unmistakable, inimitable Judas Priest feel is all over the album. All in all, Invincible Shield is a crowning achievement in metal. It might not reach the highs of Defenders of the Faith (1984) or Painkiller, but it is definitely up there among the greatest Priest albums. Over half a century and the Metal Gods still reign supreme.


Standout tracks: The Serpent and the King, Invincible Shield, Gates of Hell, Crown of Horns, Trial by Fire



Musikvideo: Judas Priest - Invincible Shield