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Invincible Shield

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Invincible Shield
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Type: Full-Length
Release Date: March 8th, 2024
Label: Sony Music
Genre: Heavy
1. Panic Attack
2. The Serpent And The King
3. Invincible Shield
4. Devil In Disguise
5. Gates Of Hell
6. Crown Of Horns
7. As God Is My Witness
8. Trial By Fire
9. Escape From Reality
10. Sons Of Thunder
11. Giants In The Sky

Review by Vladimir on March 10, 2024.

If there is always one band, I know for a fact that I can always enjoy it all day, any time of the day, every day, it’s Judas Priest. I am a simple man who enjoys simple things like heavy riffs, catchy tunes, and heavy bangers, which is what Judas Priest has certainly managed to provide for the last 4-5 decades. After the success of their previous album Firepower from 2018, they had the next 5-6 years to come up with a worthy follow-up that could be a worthy competitor to KK Priest’s current discography entries, especially their awesome second album "The Sinner Rides Again" from last year. Fast forward to March 8th, 2024, Judas Priest returns with their twentieth full-length album Invincible Shield, it was met with some high expectations despite the mixed reactions they got from their pre-released album singles. Despite those lukewarm responses, there was still hope that the Priest would once again strike down like lightning with their newly released album and hopefully prove it was worth the wait. So, did the Invincible Shield truly turn out to be invincible? Stay tuned to find out… 

From the very get-go, we’re off to a good start with 'Panic Attack' and 'The Serpent And The King' as solid opening tracks that show a spark of heaviness, melody and pure steel in those downpicking guitar riffs and Rob Halford’s signature vocals. You will instantly notice that it is for the most part quite basic but straight to the point Judas Priest that one would expect, keeping things rather simple while still trying to deliver something for the masses. One could say that the band simply keeps a very straight line throughout the album’s majority, but on the other hand, you can still feel the catchiness of their music flow within you, because as a matter of fact there is just no shortage of enjoyable riffs, guitar melodies and choruses that will simply crawl under your skin. Some songs do a great job at instantly grabbing your attention and just swipe you in their arms, with the best examples being the melancholic mid-tempo banger 'Gates Of Hell', the magical 'Crown Of Horns' with a somewhat 80’s AOR style and some heavy double-bass drumming rockers like 'As God Is My Witness'. There are also a total of three bonus tracks available, 'Fight For Your Life', 'Vicious Circle' and 'The Lodger', which could easily be considered as superior to some regular tracks on the album which don’t come as close. 

Something that I admire about this album is the stylistic consistency in the band’s songwriting no matter how simple it is, it keeps your attention at all times without losing focus on what is going on. This has definitely proven to be a very successful move on their side because they manage to transition from one song to another so well without straying off to go in another direction. I think that we can all agree that the most dominant factor throughout the entire album is none other than the metal god himself, Rob Halford. His timeless vocal performance is so incredible that you can’t even tell he’s over 70 years old, because it still sounds as fresh and powerful as it did all these years. No matter if Judas Priest comes out with a mediocre album, he will always pull it off in the end and save it from being completely doomed. Speaking about this album as a whole, I have to say that some songs succeed at leaving an impression, be it a very strong or moderately positive one. Unfortunately, not every song on this album is particularly memorable or a stand-out track, most of them just exist and really serve no purpose whatsoever. There were times when I felt a bit as if the album feels somewhat lackluster and that despite all the excitement and pleasure, it just wasn’t as sufficient or effective as it should be. I think that despite the stylistic consistency and Judas Priest’s commitment to make every piece of effort matter, they do fall under that “template/repetitive songwriting” category which just kills the mood and leaves you somewhat unimpressed. I won’t deny that there is plenty of good stuff to be heard on this album, but in reality, some songs do come off as “fillers” that just don’t do the album any justice. Even the three bonus tracks don’t really manage to save the album from its moments of absolute mediocrity, but I still think that they do a much better job than some of the other tracks that just don’t really possess anything that will make you want to come back for a repeated listen. Back on the positive side of Invincible Shield, another great thing about it is the colorful cover art, provided by Mark Wilkinson who has contributed some extraordinary art for Judas Priest since Ram It Down in 1988 and once again he did a fantastic job with the clever use of dominant blue, red and orange colors. 

I won’t lie to you, I didn’t really have any high expectations with this one, and I was somewhat simultaneously left as half-pleased and half-disappointed. I was actually expecting that the Invincible Shield will come nowhere near as good as "The Sinner Rides Again" by KK’s Priest because the hits of the new Judas Priest album can’t hold a candle to the epic and heavy works of KK Downing. Despite the mixed feelings, I still think it’s a decent album worth of at least one listening, and I do not doubt that I will come back to some standout tracks that left me screaming for vengeance. I know that a lot of people will say that it is time for Judas Priest to retire, but I refuse to accept it regardless of how I feel about the new album because they can still kick ass live and their legacy will continue as long as they walk the earth. 

Rating: 7.9 out of 10