Judas Priest - Invincible Shield

by Kevin Wierzbicki

It's a little bit amusing that the leadoff track from Invincible Shield, the new album from Judas Priest, is called "Panic Attack." That's because the song begins with about 45-seconds of melodic and cool but uncharacteristic keyboard riffing, something that may cause some fans hearing the album for the first time to momentarily panic, thinking their metal heroes have gone all Jefferson Starship. Of course the metal goodness soon starts flowing as the guitars of Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner that had been lurking in the background begin their tandem buzzing attack, followed by a heavy beat from drummer Scott Travis and bass man Ian Hill; finally the familiar voice of metal god Rob Halford kicks in. Now fans are waving horns in the air to the anthemic song, shouting "panic attack" along with Halford like they're rooting for a favorite team. And in a way they are; Judas Priest has been a metal and hard rock favorite for 50-years now (and selling 50 million albums along the way.) The quintet turns to metal fantasy for "The Serpent and the King," a very fast cut with searing guitars, precision drum strikes and most importantly, those familiar vocal howlings and shrieks from Halford. Title cut "Invincible Shield" is another fast and pounding rocker, an anthem about, well, feeling invincible and protected from anything harmful. Sort of like the feeling of being in the first few rows at a Priest concert. One of the most lyrically interesting cuts on Invincible Shield is "Devil in Disguise" where the words are directed towards men who are perceived as evil as opposed to any supernatural entity. With lyrics like "Fictitious conjurer who grinds against your will/He's like a sniper when he goes in for the kill" and other barbed statements, the words bring to mind certain politicians. But then again, your neighbor may fit that bill too. For sure the song is irresistibly catchy with an easy to sing along to chorus. "Gates of Hell" has a big, melodic guitar intro that harkens back to some of Priest's monster radio hits while "Crown of Horns," also beginning with guitar, is clearly built for today's hard rock radio. Perhaps summing up the 11 songs on the album best (14 on a deluxe edition) is "Escape from Reality;" the song represents life's daily ugliness with its grinding melody while, like the whole of the album, simultaneously offers a musical way out. Halford is in fine voice throughout, all the songs are well-written and memorable and the band is playing consummately. Yes Judas Priest are going to add significantly to their 50 million sold total with this stellar effort.


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