JUDAS PRIEST - Invincible Shield

February 22, 2024, 2 months ago

(Epic)

Mark Gromen

Rating: 8.5

review heavy metal judas priest

JUDAS PRIEST - Invincible Shield

50 years and counting, the mighty Metal Gods are back! All told, there are 14 cuts to disseminate, three more than the standard version, leading off with pre-release single "Panic Attack". It begins with another bout of guitar synths, but certainly not "Turbo" Mach II. Rob Halford practically shrieks the titular chorus. "The Serpent And The King" seem hellbent on recreating "Painkiller". It's of a similar speed and intensity. Good to see the old guys didn't forget how to rock! More of the same on the title track, kicking off with a flurry of guitar, before settling into a head bobbling riff. Easy to sing-along chorus, should make it a live concert staple.

Downshifting, "Devil In Disguise" is a gritty, mid-tempo number. "Gates Of Hell" quickly locks into the Priest hallmark sound, at least the easy going structures inherent since Halford's return to the band. Richie Faulkner gets a fleet fingered solo squarely in the final third of this one. Next up, another song teased, prior to release, "Crown Of Horns", an autobiographical piece about how seriously Halford takes his responsibility as the Metal God, anointed with a crown of horns: the Dio inspired two-finger salute that bands/fans freely exchange as a sign of respect/affection. It's as close as Priest are going to get to a power ballad these days.

Back to the ‘90s, get a "Leather Rebel" vibe (especially as it jumps off) from "As God Is My Witness": built around a stout, speedy riff. The tolling of a bell and a sustained, old school high note from Rob are part of "Trial By Fire", unleashed on the public since last Fall. The moody, pedestrian stomp of "Escape From Reality" feels more like fellow Brummie, Ozzy Osbourne, than Judas Priest. Only the six-string flourish separates the two, Double O not having anything so dynamic, since the early days with Zakk Wylde. Speaking of spirited fretboard runs, check out the opening to "Sons Of Thunder", an ode to motorcycles, which utilizes backing gang vocals, come the chorus. A meandering, bluesy riff starts "Giants In The Sky", which closes the proper album. There's even an acoustic guitar passage, before ending with exaggerated Halford scream.

Of the proposed "extra" material... "Fight Of Your Life" commences with a countrified guitar melody, before Rob appears and toughens it up, with nasal, high pitched, Tom Keifer (Cinderella) style vocal (alternated with his normal timbre). Faulkner spotlighted again. Classic JP chug, augmented by crisp rasp of Scott Travis' metallic snare, for "Vicious Circle". Finale "The Lodger" is not a typical Priest offering. In fact, most probably wouldn't even classify it as rock, let alone metal. Seems like a Broadway show piece played with electric instrumentation, but then, we've heard more convincing "adaptations" from Trans-Siberian Orchestra, for 20+ years.

Good news, the best stuff is on the shorter (cheaper) disc. A strong mix of styles/tempos, most with aggressive vocal performance from Halford. Can't wait to see which ones make the setlist.

Preorder Invincible Shield here.



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