Invincible Shield | Artist: Judas Priest | Genre: Heavy Metal | Year: 2024
The Metal Gods continue their legendary reign with another intensely heavy album proving 2018’s Firepower was no fluke.
Invincible Shield album art

Invincible Shield

As CelJaded rapidly approaches its tenth anniversary, I think about my “blog bucket list” of subjects I still want to write about before I die, whereupon the website probably becomes a mere entry in an Internet archive somewhere, disintegrating into digital dust, or whatever happens when the owners mysteriously vanish. (It seems a decade makes even the most reflective writer think weird stuff.)

One item on that list was the idea of reviewing at least one new album for each of my favourite bands. I reviewed Paranormal by Alice Cooper, Paradise by KMFDM, and even did one for a lesser-known rock band called Black Water Rising. But the biggest holdout was Judas Priest — the British pioneers of the entire heavy metal genre, and a perennial favourite of mine since I was a teenager. I had to make amends after failing to review their previous release (2018’s Firepower), especially since the band could retire any day now!

However, the notion of Judas Priest calling it quits seems almost impossible when listening to their nineteenth studio album, Invincible Shield. The music sounds definitively alive, it’s loud and mean, and doesn’t let up its furious pace until the entire 50+ minutes has elapsed. It’s the third consecutive album where the band has put innovation aside to focus on the basics, and judging by sales alone, the old formula is still doing great business. Let’s face it though, even if Judas Priest aren’t ticking the originality box all the way, they’re still masters of their craft who’ve nothing left to prove, even if they do continue to do it anyway with intense records like this one.

Invincible Shield opens strong with its first number, Panic Attack — an awesomely fast and heavy track whose topical lyrics evoke feelings of the band’s classic 1982 song, Electric Eye. Rob Halford’s trademark screech is alive and well on The Serpent and the King, and the shredding guitars on Devil in Disguise sings of a sinister man and his seemingly unending capacity for dastardly deeds. (A Judas Priest tradition that one.) Even when the album does slow down slightly, the end result in Crown of Thorns is still no less furious.

This band has been making music for longer than I’ve been alive, and yet I marvel at how youthful and energized they still sound on this record. Kudos goes to the band’s touring guitarist (Andy Sneap) who returns as producer after the superb job he did on Firepower. Listen for the nostalgic callbacks he and the band have included, from the Judas Rising style intro on Trial by Fire, to that one track where you’d swear Halford’s vocals are channelling Ozzy!

While Firepower had over 14 tracks, Invincible Shield has only 11 despite being almost as long. The tracks on this new album are therefore much longer, and I think sometimes do overrun a touch. It’s also worth noting the Deluxe Edition has three bonus tracks which expand the total listening time to over an hour.

Judas Priest always does stellar bonus tracks though, and Invincible Shield is no exception. Vicious Circle has some nice riffs, The Lodger is something a bit quirkier for the fans of story-based cuts, and Fight of Your Life is so good, I wonder why it wasn’t included on the main album over the more generic-sounding Sons of Thunder.

Overall, Invincible Shield is a wonderful accompaniment to Firepower, to the point where deciding a favourite between the two albums is a case of “please don’t make me choose”. What’s not up for debate is the fact that Judas Priest are on the run of a lifetime making great records like this, so here’s to the next one!

Invincible Shield: Deluxe Edition on Amazon»