JUDAS PRIEST's RICHIE FAULKNER On 'Invincible Shield' Album: 'We Always Strive To Do Something That's Better Than The Last One'

February 10, 2024

In a new interview with Canada's The Metal Voice, JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner spoke about the band's upcoming studio album, "Invincible Shield", which will arrive on March 8 via Sony Music. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I think it's its own animal, as all the albums are. It's the character of the band that's been there for over half a century now. There's [singer Rob] Halford, [guitarist] Glenn Tipton, [bassist] Ian Hill, [drummer] Scott Travis. Scott's been there for 30 years. So there's that beautiful legacy that they laid down, along with [former guitarist] K.K. Downing and [former drummers] Les Binks and Dave Holland and all those guys in the past. And we're moving. We always try to do something a little bit different, whether it's musical or lyrical content or…. We always try to make it better, quote-unquote — better songs, better production, better solos, better melodies. We always try and strive to do something that's better than the last one. And it has its own unique quality."

Asked what his mindset was when it came to crafting his guitar parts for "Invincible Shield", Richie said: "Well, there's two sides to this. I always kind of do it the same way — I sit down with the guitar whenever. Like today, I might sit down with the guitar and a riff will come out or a section will come out. I'll come up with something that sounds strong and build on that. And I kind of let the guitar dictate what I'm coming up with. And we take those ideas and then get them in a writing session together with the three of us and we put those ideas out there and see if anything sticks. I've always done that with the three albums [I've done] with the band [so far], but what I did differently this time, we had a bit more time to develop riffs and solos and musical parts because of the lockdowns of the pandemic. So there were a few solos on this record which I actually worked out. I don't usually do that. I usually play some off-the-cuff solos in the studio … and you build it around them. But a few of them on this record I actually worked out."

He added: "I'm always trying to find my own voice. I'm always trying to find my own thing to say. Coming in after K.K. Downing, who had such a unique voice, and Glenn as well, what am I going to say? That's always been my journey. So I mapped out some of the guitar solos on this record, which I don't usually do."

The official music videos for the LP's first three singles, "Panic Attack", "Trial By Fire" and "Crown Of Horns", can be seen below.

The release date for PRIEST's follow-up to 2018's "Firepower" was announced on October 7, 2023 during the band's performance at the Power Trip festival in Indio, California.

After BLACK SABBATH's "War Pigs" played as the intro to PRIEST's set, a graphic was displayed on the video screens announcing "Invincible Shield".

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

In a recent interview with Meltdown of Detroit's WRIF radio station, Faulkner 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 [Halford, PRIEST singer] 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, 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."

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 Downing parted ways with the band in 2011, and was replaced by Faulkner.

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