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(Album Review) JUDAS PRIEST - Invincible Shield (Columbia and Epic Records)

Reviewed by:

Joe B.

Yes, the three bonus tracks on Judas Priest's new album, Invincible Shield are great. So great, that those songs are the difference between a top album for 2024 and a top five all time Judas Priest album.

Invincible Shield is Judas Priest’s nineteenth studio album. The standard edition ends with eleven tracks. This is the middle of where the bonus edition gets red hot.

It starts off with “Panic Attack” and ramps up into a frenetic pace with “Serpent and the King”. The title track has Metallica Kill Em All thrash. The album’s pace goes from blistering to savagely heavy. “Crown of Thorns” was pre released months before Invincible Shield to rave reviews. It still holds up months later.

The album is a musical master class lead by Richie Faulker, one of this reviewer’s favorite guitarists. Faulkner injected Judas Priest with energy and vitality. Every album he has appeared on has built up to the crescendo that is Invincible Shield. Andy Sneap continues to produce the band in top form.

Rob Halford sounds great. How much of this is studio enhancement is unknown and quite frankly, I don’t care, because the album is great. The same goes for how much Ian Hill and Glenn Tipton contribute. It doesn’t matter, Faulkner, Sneap and Halford create magic.

“Trial by Fire” is where Invincible Shield goes to another level. It starts with a “Victim of Changes” like riff. Then it is a barrage of one great song after another. “Escape from Reality” is heavy and bizarre sounding. It features an amazing bridge where Rob sounds like the Halford of old that borders on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath Ozzy vocals. “Sons of Thunder” brings back the heavy biker rock that Priest does so well. Then, it is “Giants in the Sky”, Rob’s ode to his rock heroes.

This is where the basic album ends. It is also where the deluxe release goes to ANOTHER level. “Fight For Your Life” is my favorite track on Invincible Shield and it is almost criminal it was left off the basic release. It is the best Judas Priest song over the last 20 years at least. The opening riff harkens back to the Hell Bent for Leather and Stained Class era. Then it changes key a few times making for an instant classic. Because it is a bonus track, I fear that it’s appearance on a set list will not happen. “Vicious Circle” is another heavy metal banger. Then comes the grand finale, “The Lodger”. It is quite unlike the rest of the album, yet it is strange and great all the same. It brings back memories of Halford’s fine solo work in the 90’s. Again, because it is a bonus track, it most likely will not be played live. If Judas Priest ever does, it would be an amazing special.

Invincible Shield is a great album. With the bonus tracks, it is in the top 5 Judas Priest albums.

Easily a 5 out of 5.


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