JUDAS PRIEST Releases New Song ‘The Serpent And The King’ From Upcoming ‘Invincible Shield’ Album

British heavy metal legends JUDAS PRIEST have released the official lyric video for “The Serpent And The King”, the fourth single from their upcoming studio album, “Invincible Shield”. You can check it out below.

JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford told Zane Lowe of Apple Music 1 about “The Serpent And The King”: “JUDAS PRIEST screaming heavy metal for over 50 years. The passion and the power and the love and the dedication and all the other glorious words that you can utilize into this band, JUDAS PRIEST, are just roaring in this song, ‘The Serpent And The King’. It’s just another definition of this particular style of metal, this intense, relentless, unyielding, invincible approach and love that we have in this band for this particular song. And we’ve talked about a lot of things. We’ve talked about the sinner, we’ve talked about the saints, and we’ve talked about the painkiller but we’ve never talked about God and the devil getting into the universal boxing ring, so to speak. That’s the message. We’re talking about this age-old thing that’s been going on since the universe began. It’s God, it’s the devil. It’s black and white, it’s positive, negative, it’s good, it’s evil, it’s love, it’s hate. It’s all of these different textures wrapped up into this fierce non-stop, relentless track, ‘The Serpent And The King’.”

Regarding how the themes in “The Serpent And The King” are reflective of the current time, Halford said: “This ‘Serpent And The King’ issue couldn’t be more relevant right now, man. I don’t have to talk about current topics on the news wire. But yeah, this is it. This is raging right now, this fight that’s going on. The good news is the battle always ends in the right place, which is, good overcomes evil. Love always wins. Love will always come out on top. No matter how dark, how bleak, how terrible things might be, love will come out, the light will shine, the power will reign, and humanity progresses. This is the context of all of the imagery and fantasy of ‘The Serpent And The King’.”

“Invincible Shield” will arrive on March 8, 2024 via Sony Music.

The official music videos for the LP’s first two singles, “Panic Attack” and “Trial By Fire”, can also be seen below.

The cover artwork for the CD and vinyl versions of “Invincible Shield” can be found below.

To pre-order “Invincible Shield”, visit shop.judaspriest.com.

“Invincible Shield” track listing:

01. Panic Attack
02. The Serpent And The King
03. Invincible Shield
04. Devil In Disguise
05. Gates Of Hell
06. Crown Of Horns
07. As God Is My Witness
08. Trial By Fire
09. Escape From Reality
10. Sons Of Thunder
11. Giants In The Sky

Deluxe edition bonus tracks:

12. Fight Of Your Life
13. Vicious Circle
14. The Lodger

In a new interview with Meltdown of Detroit’s WRIF radio station, JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner spoke about “Invincible Shield”. Asked about his previous comment that the follow-up to 2018’s “Firepower” would be “a little bit more progressive”, he clarified: “I think ‘progressive’ means different things to different people, so it’s not super, super complex DREAM THEATER magic, but I think it’s complex and progressive in the way that there’s some twists and turns and it doesn’t really follow any scripts if it doesn’t have to. There’s two solos in [the LP’s first single, ‘Panic Attack’]. There’s a part in it that’s 7/8 time [signature]. There’s two kind of bridges. So it just goes out of the box a little bit, without being unaccessible, that’s what I mean. So I think compared with ‘Firepower’, it’s a little bit more progressive, a few more twists and turns along the journey of the song.”

Asked what the inspiration was to make the music a bit more progressive this time around, Richie said: “That was the stuff we were coming up with. When I come up with music, it’s usually the riffs first. I sit down with the guitar and the guitar kind of pulls it out of me, really, wherever it comes from. And it just so happened that some of those parts were a bit more unorthodox, time-changey stuff or different time signatures. And the record takes on its own character by itself. As you write a record, you might have an idea of where you wanna go, but the record takes on its own flavor by itself, and you go with that — you recognize where it’s going and go with that. So, that’s what we were coming up with, and sort of went with that mindset, really.”

Regarding his own personal contributions to the songwriting process on “Invincible Shield”, Faulkner said: “Well, it’s a fairly shared thing. I’m not a lyricist, and obviously Rob is, for example. Me and Glenn [Tipton, PRIEST guitarist] write a lot of the guitar parts and musical parts and Rob writes a lot of the vocals and vocal melodies. And Rob‘s got a great sense of phrasing as well. He might come in one day with an idea for a song and it’s got some melody and it’s got some timing and you can attach yourself to that timing and come out with a riff. So it’s kind of — we get in a room, like me and you put a band together, and ‘what have you got?’ and ‘what have I got?’ and we put them together and come up with new songs. And it’s fairly organic like that.”

Richie also addressed the fact that the main “Invincible Shield” album contains 11 songs, with three additional tracks being made available on various versions of the album. He said: “We wanted to keep it around 10, 11 tracks on the main record. But the bonus tracks, we didn’t wanna put them on the shelf never to see the light of day. We wanted to get them out. We wanted people to hear those as well without being part of the standard release. So we released everything we had in different formats.”

Faulkner then elaborated on the musical direction of “Invincible Shield”, saying: “It’s a pretty intense record. There’s no real moment where there’s a ballad or something like that. It stays up there.

“When you release a record, it’s exciting,” he explained. “It’s also scary at the same time, ’cause is it gonna be well received or not? You never quite know when you let it out in the world. So it’s an exciting time, for sure.”

Last June, Faulkner told Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio about the musical direction of the new PRIEST material: “There are definitely a few more twists and turns on this record. There are a few more musical parts. So, there might be a bit of… As I said, there are twists and turns. I’ve used the word ‘progressive’ before, and the Internet ripped me a new asshole. But it is progressive in the sense that it’s not like verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus-finish. It’s musical part-verse-musical part. It might do a few twists and turns, musically. It veers from the path of it, a bit like ‘Sinner’ or ‘Tyrant’ or something like that. So, it’s a bit more ’70s PRIEST, which I ichie e as a guitar player… It’s ’70s PRIEST, but it’s not a retro album, by any means. It’s the influence of ’70s PRIEST in the progressive sense, but it sounds like PRIEST in 2023.”

He added: “Every PRIEST album has kind of stood on its own, stylistically. It’s had that DNA of JUDAS PRIEST, because the characters are so strong. But it’s always been a little bit different — retaining that DNA but having its own character. So, this one’s no different, really, in the sense that it’s obviously JUDAS PRIEST, but it’s its own animal; it stands on its own two legs.”

In November 2022, Faulkner told Robert Cavuoto of Metal Rules that some PRIEST fans misconstrued his previous comments about the musical direction of the band’s upcoming LP. He said: “I think we’ve used the word ‘progressive’, and everyone thinks it’s gonna become ‘Nostradamus’ [PRIEST‘s controversial 2008 symphonic heavy metal concept double album about Nostradamus], or RUSH, which is two different things. I’ve definitely used the word ‘progressive’ [to describe the new PRIEST material in previous interviews], purely because it’s got a few musical turnarounds that ‘Firepower’ doesn’t have. But that doesn’t make it a RUSH record. It just makes it — instead of, like, a verse into a bridge into a chorus, there might be a couple of more musical passages in there to make it a bit more… interesting; might be the wrong word. I don’t know. You’ve gotta be careful with the words you use these days. So it’s not ‘Firepower 2’, but it’s the same band a few years later, so there’s obvious connections to the last record. But it’s not ‘Firepower 2’ by any means.”

Richie continued: “No PRIEST records have sounded the same, but it’s got a common DNA. And you always try and make the next one sound a bit better — or whatever ‘better’ may be; ‘better’ is subjective. So, is it better written? Are the lyrics better? Does it sound better? And ‘better’ is always subjective. So it’s hard to pinpoint, really. But it’s a bit more of a musical adventure than the last one, I’d say. But then again someone might listen to it, when it does come out, and have a totally different interpretation of what it is. So it’s always tough to sum up your own music without sounding up your own butt.”

In February 2022, Halford was asked by Remy Maxwell of Audacy Check In if he agreed with Faulkner‘s comment that the band’s upcoming album would be more musically “progressive” than “Firepower”. He responded: “Yeah, the metal is there. But here’s the thing: we’ve tried our best not to replicate anything that we’ve done. From ‘Rocka Rolla’ all the way through to ‘Firepower’, each record has had a distinctive character. And it’s tough because fans go, ‘We want another ‘Painkiller’,’ ‘We want another ‘British Steel’.’ And [it’s, like], ‘Dude, we’ve already done that.’

“Fans know that we’re a band that is always full of adventure and trying new stuff,” he continued. “And so, yeah, this has got probably some more progressive elements that we’ve never really delved into before. And that’s exciting, because, again, it gives us and our fans another opportunity to see a different side of PRIEST. But it’s still metal. There’s just more of it. There are more notes than there were before.”

Also in February 2022, Faulkner told Canada’s The Metal Voice about the overall sound of the new PRIEST music: “Whenever you start a record, you never know how it’s gonna turn out. So you might start with an idea of what it’s gonna be, and as it kind of rolls on, it comes out something different. So you don’t quite know. And also it’s really hard to sum up your own music, I find, without sounding really pretentious. But I think this one — it’s not ‘Firepower 2’, I don’t think. It’s its own thing, it’s its own animal. If anything, I would say it’s a bit more progressive in places, and in places it’s got a bit more of that ‘Killing Machine’ swagger.”

Faulkner added: “I know everyone says, ‘Oh, is it the next ‘Painkiller’?’ or ‘Is it the next…?’ whatever… I don’t know if they’d ever done it, but I know we’ve never done it when I’ve been in the band; we’ve never tried to recreate an album. It’s always we try to create an album that stands on its own legs. So I think it’s definitely a little bit more progressive than ‘Firepower’ and, as I said, in places it’s got a little bit of that ‘Killing Machine’ angry swagger attitude going on.”

Bassist Ian Hill is the sole remaining original member of PRIEST, which formed in 1969. Halford joined the group in 1973 and Tipton signed on in 1974. Rob left PRIEST in the early 1990s to form his own band, then came back to PRIEST in 2003. Original guitarist K.K. Downing parted ways with the band in 2011, and was replaced by Faulkner.

Photo credit: James Hodges

CD cover:

Vinyl cover:


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