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Album Review: JUDAS PRIEST Invincible Shield

10 Reviewer

I will always love the 80s. There are so many reasons why. For metal fans, this was a magical time when metal seemed to rule to the airwaves of FM rock radio. Judas Priest, with records like Screaming for Vengeance and Defenders of the Faith, firmly established themselves as the metal gods during this decade, and much of what they created during that time has achieved legendary status.

With Judas Priest, however, the irony comes some three decades later as 2018's Firepower actually charted higher in the US than any of their previous recordings, further cementing the storied band into a realm of prominent longevity few could ever imagine of attaining.

Firepower was a record that made a statement. An instant classic nearly as soon as it was released, the LP silenced any doubters who may have thought Judas Priest was done. In similar vein, some six years later, the band comes back with another barnburner in Invincible Shield, which is a bit more reticent of those famed 80s Judas Priest records that so many of us love so dearly.

Admittedly, the first single off the record, released a number of weeks back, "Panic Attack" gave us shades of 1986's Turbo with the synth intro and accents throughout the cut. I was personally more than okay with that because while, admittedly, I was not a fan of Turbo when it first came out, I've grown to truly appreciate it over the years. I think of it as the ultimate "grower." However, t took me about zero seconds to develop a love for "Panic Attack." Between Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford still hitting the high notes and guitarist Richie Faulkner's blisteringly original lead work, "Panic Attack" is right up there with the band's all-time greatest hits without any doubt.

In general, Judas Priest gives us an absolute shred fest with the solos on Invincible Shield. The solos on both "Sons of Thunder" (played by Glenn Tipton) and "Escape from Reality" (performed by Faulkner) really dial up the intensity and showcase just how adept the original masters are at their craft. The songs themselves don't stray from that songwriting formula Judas Priest really honed on those early 80s records and those us pushing 50 will get chills from the nostalgia.

The bluesy "Giants in the Sky" is a deep, riff-heavy cut that then also slows down and gives listeners a brief acoustic interlude before bringing us back to the bass-driven bridge and chorus. Keeping along the blues-based theme, "Fight of Your Life" is a snarly, nasty number that features Halford in his upper vocal range for much of the verses. It's so amazing that, even now at over 70 years of age, The Metal God isn't afraid to take on songs that still involve some significant risk. Most metal vocalists largely wouldn't attempt to sing a song like "Fight of Your Life" at 32, let alone 72.

"Vicious Circle, " which also features a Tipton solo, is an upbeat rocker that clocks in just over three minutes. I alos love Richie's chunky guitar tone on this one. Same with "As God is my Witness" which could have easily come off the Painkiller record.

The record closes with the epic "The Lodger," which again features synths. This radiantly executed track sounds like nothing else on the album with its elaborate orchestration and Queen-like amalgamation of sounds mixed together. Halford closes out the record with his hauntingly lyric "Vengeance is miiiinnnnnnee" delivered only in the way the Metal God can.

People often criticize bands that stay around too long. Some bands just need to pack it in when age creeps up too quickly or when the chemistry is no longer there. Judas Priest, however, might actually be at their apex right now, some five decades after their formation. Every single aspect of the production of Invincible Shield excels. Every single sound on this record has a purpose. A whopping 14 cuts of absolute heavy metal radiance. This is the best record of 2024 thus far.

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