Album review: Judas Priest – Invincible Shield

Judas Priest continue to set the standard for what metal can be on absurdly enjoyable 19th album Invincible Shield…

Album review: Judas Priest – Invincible Shield
Sam Law

Judas Priest have been in a class of their own for decades now. It’d be easy to wax lyrical on how crazy it is that the Brummie legends are at their top of their game in their sixth decade as a band, or how wild that frontman Rob Halford is still the gold-studded standard for metal frontmen at 72 years old, or how staggering that they still go about their business with the insatiable vigour of artists with anything left to prove. Except it’s not surprising. Since 2006’s Angel Of Retribution, Priest have been cruising on (Metal) God Mode, understanding their mission and executing on another level. Arriving at 19th album Invincible Shield, fans expect brilliance. And that’s exactly what they get.

Still it thrills. Lead single and opening track Panic Attack briefly teases a return to the synth-stained retro-futurism of 1986’s lusty Turbo, but it’s not long before they're launched into a shrieking, barn-burning, all out assault more akin to 1982’s Screaming For Vengeance or 1984’s Defenders Of The Faith.

The Serpent And The King and the storming title-track maintain the hellbent momentum. Devil In Disguise and Gates Of Hell stack up the stomp and melody. The 100mph highlight As God Is My Witness rekindles the thrashy velocity that helped kickstart that genre in the first place. Giants In The Sky – a bluesy tribute to departed icons Ronnie James Dio and Lemmy – is proof they can groove just as deep as old muckers Black Sabbath, too.

There’s joy to be had viewing Invincible Shield in the context of Priest’s wider discography, too. What would the young renegades who started out with 1974’s Rocka Rolla think, for instance, if they could see the black-clad, shred-heavy septuagenarians they’d be 50 years down the line? How heartening for listeners losing faith around 1997’s Jugulator or 2001’s Demolition to find out about the resurgence that’d run deep into the 21st Century?

Ultimately, though, this is a record with the kind of undeniable quality that will captivate fresh-faced newcomers just as much as weathered veterans. It’s there in Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner’s clashing six-strings on Fight Of Your Life, in Ian Hill and Scott Travis’ rumbling bottom-end on Vicious Circle, in Rob’s gleefully melodramatic refrain – ‘Vengeance is mine!’ – on grandstanding final track The Lodger.

In truth, it’s always been there. Long may it continue to be.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate

Invincible Shield is out now via Sony

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