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ROCKER REVIEW








Review by The Rocker James West

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You know when you have that PERFECT Barbeque Rib Dinner?  That’s what I felt after listening to Judas Priest’s last album FIREPOWER back in 2018.  It was truly a REVELATION to hear the Priest back on the attack with some of their best Metal since their 70s and 80s heyday.  The songs were "Peppered and Flavored" JUST RIGHT, with all the ingredients working as one to create eargasms in your brain!

READ MY REVIEW OF FIREPOWER HERE!

 

So, I’ve been a bit reluctant for the release of INVINCIBLE SHIELD.  I surely didn’t want to get a bad aftertaste from the incredible ear candy I tasted, or should I say witnessed, six years ago!

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Sessions for Priest’s 19th album started back in 2020, but Richie Faulkner stated that they had faced some challenges due to the pandemic.  Like with Firepower, they wanted to get together and play the songs in pre-production before recording them. Then, the band went out on their 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour, so they had to record during stops between legs of the tour.

 

As with FIREPOWER, the same cast of characters thankfully returned: Rob Halford delivering the goods on vocals, Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner on guitars, Ian Hill keeping them grounded on bass, and Scott Travis on drums/percussion.  INVINCIBLE SHIELD was Produced again by touring guitarist Andy Sneap.

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Glenn has been battling Parkinson’s Disease, but still contributed to the album with songwriting and even guitar playing in his own particular way.  As Halford told Metal Injection Magazine “Parkinson’s is a really cruel, terrible, horrible thing to happen to anybody – to see the physical debilitation that it creates.  But your brain is still there – you’re still functioning as a person.  But in a guitar sense, it’s very, very difficult to play anything anymore.”  But Tipton’s NEVER SURRENDER attitude delivered great songs on par with some of their best work yet!

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So, here we go again… I’m starving for another incredible aural experience from the Metal Gods; hopefully, I won’t have a…

 

PANIC ATTACK

Like an evolving melodic army circling around and around and finally landing to do battle… PANIC ATTACK!  PANIC ATTACK!  Hell yeah, bring it on!!!

 

There’s a little bit of "Turbo"-type effects swirling around combined with great solos as always from Richie and Glenn!  Awesome first song choice to wet my palate to get ready for…

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THE SERPENT AND THE KING

 

High-register vocal delivery I can feel Rob’s vocal cords screaming for a PAIN KILLER please!  Lol There’s a great solo that takes you on its own journey (this is how ALL Solos should be).  Riffs are also solid as ever- Fast and Furious!  Spinning out of control into an…

 

INVINCIBLE SHIELD

 

Two songs in and yet here’s another great song that's like a horse out of the gate running for it’s life!  Short-quick-conscise vocal delivery by Rob.  Richie and Glenn seem to make a point of going for a little "Painkiller/Screaming For Vengeance" - type vibe.  Dual solo’s sound tight and well thought out.   The extended solo takes you on a little journey and lets Richie stretch his legs- like a racehorse storming out of the stall, sprinting on a journey with purpose and showing all it’s paths.  These are Beautiful dual solos.

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DEVIL IN DISGUISE

This is the Priest I love- a little slower with kick-ass riffs and rythym.  "She’s a Devil -  The Devil in Disguise." There's a great choppy little riff  that drives the song like a peacock strutting proudly.  The Song offers a great snarling tone that could've been off "Stained Glass" or "Killing Machine".  With the slowed-down pace, the solos have more purpose.  This song reminds me a little of one of my favorite tracks off of the album "Redeemer Of Souls" called "March Of The Damned"!

 

GATES OF HELL

GREAT TWIN LEAD INTRO LEADING TO ANOTHER GREAT PRIEST RIFF.  Perfect for steady headbanging!  A Bluesy-type solo delivers more texture and tone to the song.  There's also Echo noise heard behind the song.

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CROWN OF THORNS

 

There's a MAJESTIC TWIN GUITAR INTRO that turns into a sing-a-long type chorus.  Luckily, a cool heavy riff chimes in to rough it up a bit.  You can actually hum along to this melody.  Luckily, a nice bridge "riff ruffs" it up a little before it gets too sing-songy. The guitar solos are well-played and placed in the song.  This sounds like it was meant to be a single if heavy metal singles were worth anything nowadays! LOL

 

AS GOD IS MY WITNESS

 

Back to "Jugulator" mode with a fast rythym that sounds like a Harley doing a 100 mph!  Rob does a great job of staying within his older vocal register.  There's a nice dive-bombing solo along with call and response. A  fretboard frenzy ensues, and a stuttering beat speeds up to get that Harley up the hill and out of here!

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TRIAL BY FIRE

Another harmonized guitar fades in and gets you prepped up for another killer riff attack.  Richie is a tone-master on this album- finding just the right sounds to resonate in each song.  Minor chords rule here.  The solos serve purpose and often serve as a bridge from one rhythm progression flowing into another.

 

ESCAPE FROM REALITY

(written by Glenn Tipton)

Another great riff intro is unleashed like a big fingernail on that bug bite you’re not supposed to scratch- but yet it feels so gooood, LOL!  The Bass line then gets to shine a little, and then a cool rhythm with some droning guitar and bass in the background.  There's a sneaky-type delivery with "AGONY… ESCAPE FROM REALITY… BRINGS YOU DOWN!" This incredible song actually sounds a little like Tool of all things!  Shades of FEAR INOCULUM! Riffs and vocals from yet another perfect riff tone gives me an ear-gasm.  Can I have cigarette please? LOL  This is followed by a variety of call and response solos innertwined.  Then those twin riffs scratch that big bug bite again and you Escape From Reality again, with the help of…

 

SONS OF THUNDER

(written by Glenn Tipton)

Great pick scrapes over guitar riffs!  "LET’S RIDE - ALL NIGHT- SONS OF THUNDER!"  Rob sings about what he knows here.  Great bridge and riff speeds it up a bit into another nice solo. Ascending and descending fretboard scales melt together into a marriage of madness, and then back on the bike you go to meet...

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GIANTS IN THE SKY

AWESOME RIFFAGE once again!  I love riffs that us old farts can head-bang to without causing spinal issues! Lol  The Tone on this song rivals the best basted turkey on Thanksgiving day—Delightfully Delicious, Mouth Watering, and then leaving you wanting more an hour later…  A nice little toned-down solo is perfect for letting your meal settle.  Rob’s vocals are KILLER on this.  Ummm Time to go Back for SECONDS… That gorgeous riff is Unleashed From The East again, and I love the old-time song ending also!  NAILED IT!  What?  Is that the end of the album already???  Naw, here’s some more juicy morsels called…  Bonus tracks!

 

FIGHT OF YOUR LIFE

This is a bonus track that would easily be a second or third song headlining on most of today’s rock band albums.  Great ascending and descending solos plod along to a great beat. Rob’s voice rises up a bit in a still-comfortable register for him and provides a nice change in vocal tone.  I like the way this song gets in, gets it done, and then gets out before it overstays its welcome.

 

VICIOUS CIRCLE

Yet another great riff and rhythm.  Yet another great head-bangin’ bass and beat.   Where the hell do these guys get all these incredible riffs?  AC/DC would be PROUD! Nice melodic twin solo. Then like every other great rock song-  In and Out and then- Done!

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Well, I kinda wish it was done.  After 13 Fantastic Priest offerings, I believe they start rolling the credits to this great movie along to this only clunker on the album.  Well, it’s actually a bonus track, so does it even count? Lol

 

THE LODGER

Slower pace like a motion picture soundtrack song.  "VENGEANCE IS MINE" says The Lodger… In my mind I can see the credits rolling during this.  "GOTTA FIGHT HIM…" (to not put this weak song on the album!) This track would have been perfect on Nostradamus (Just sayin’).  In other words- If the band would have left the theater before this credit-ending-roll,  it would have been ok with me…

FINAL THOUGHTS- I cannot believe this band is delivering this great of material this far into their discography!  ROB IS A REVELATION! The Metal Gods have blessed all of us with Rob's contributions to Hard Rock and Heavy Metal for all these years.  The same goes for Glenn, Ian, Scott, and yes, don't ignore KK for his incredible input and tenure with the band also!  And finally, Richie Faulkner is one of my favorite guitarists out there "Delivering The Goods"!  His contributions to Judas Priest have been astronomical!  Do you have to ask what rating I give this Barn Burner?  Five Rocker Hands Baby!!!

ROCKER RATING

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