ROB HALFORD Says New JUDAS PRIEST Song 'The Serpent And The King' Will 'Rip Your Head Off'

February 14, 2024

In a new interview with Remy Maxwell of Audacy Check In, JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford spoke about the first three songs that have been released from the band's upcoming "Invincible Shield" album: "Panic Attack", "Trial By Fire" and "Crown Of Horns". He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Your first three cuts, your first three tracks of your new album are so important because they have to send the right messages out in terms of connectivity and what are they doing now? What is it gonna sound like? There's then the excitement and the anticipation of your new music. Your fans around the world are just, like, 'What are they doing? I wanna check it out, what's going on.'"

He continued: "I'll tell you what was really cool, because there's that great intro to [the first single] 'Panic Attack', which starts with the almost-'Turbo'-sounding guitars… And I thought, I just know our fans are gonna be listening and [going], 'What the hell is this shit? What are they doing now?' Which is exactly what we wanted to do in terms of getting your attention, getting you focused and ready, because when that song opens up, when those first rhythm riffs start blasting through and then the band is just taking off, we leave the launchpad immediately. And PRIEST fans are going off, 'Thank God for that. Because this is exactly what I wanted.' … The structures, the arrangements, the DNA of that song is full of lots of beautiful metal trails that take this band all the way back to 'Sad Wings Of Destiny' and beyond."

When Maxwell touched upon the fact that none of the first three songs released from "Invincible Shield" sound similar to one another, Halford concurred. "I'm really pleased with the way that we've unleashed these first three tracks, because, again, it just shows you the breadth of the ability of this band to take you to all these different places," he said. "Those three songs are nothing like each other; they're nothing like each other. They're three songs, but when they're connected to the rest of the material, you're getting, again, this beautiful album definition of what PRIEST is doing and representing itself in 2024.

"You wait till you hear 'The Serpent And The King'," Halford added about one of the tracks that have yet to be released from the LP. "That's gonna rip your head off. We've already sent a teaser out for that, and the fans are already losing their minds. So, all the things that you love about PRIEST are enmeshed in 'Invincible Shield', and then some."

"Invincible Shield" will arrive on March 8 via Sony Music.

Earlier this month, Halford told Alan Ovington about the songwriting and recording process for the upcoming studio album: "Well, the process of making 'Invincible Shield' was pretty much the same as most of the albums that PRIEST has made through the decades. It's this unique combination of having two guitar players and a singer together in the room starting the day off with no metal and at the end of it, having something that's gonna be around a lot longer than you are. But yeah, I get in the room with Glenn [Tipton, PRIEST guitarist] and with Richie [Faulkner, PRIEST guitarist] and the riffs start. It's a lot of jamming, it's a lot of riffing and just free creativity. It's just remarkable how this whole process, this chemistry between the three of us takes place and we love it. It's just very, very special to us."

As for how PRIEST utilizes modern technology during the recording process, Halford said: "The technology, of course, has changed dramatically. We go back all the way to three-inch reel tapes, and then to digital tapes, and now we're in the Pro Tools world. And you have to really be careful that technology doesn't take the lead in the whole of the writing and recording process, because it's very easy to get stuck into that AI world of making music — you know, cutting and pasting and all that kind of stuff. We've always kept it real in PRIEST, and we always will."

Asked if he found "any particular themes reoccurring" while he was writing the lyrics for the new album, Rob said: "Well, I'm the lyricist and I do my best to try and create messages and ideas that are new and fresh. Obviously, there are elements in PRIEST that we love to reinvestigate. Take 'The Serpent And The King', the classic good versus evil, which will always be part of humanity. The serpent's the devil and the king is God. So here's a new approach to that particular theme. 'Panic Attack' is quite cool, looking at the darker side of the implications of the worldwide web. 'Invincible Shield', the title track, man, that's just who we are and what we stand for. So, there we have it — a lot of PRIEST from different angles and different perspectives."

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

In February 2022, Halford was asked by 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."

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.

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