Since the release of Judas Priest's previous album, 2018's Firepower, the metal legends were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, one of the few genre artists to be acknowledged by the institution. Even then, they were instated as part of the "Music Excellence" category rather than as official class inductees.

It's an unneeded reminder and clear example of metal's often shuttling to second-class citizenship by rock highbrows. Priest's 19th album, Invincible Shield, probably won't change too many minds outside of the already converted, but it's a deserving addition to the esteemed catalog of one of metal's premier bands. More than four decades into their career, Firepower was their best record since the early '90s; Invincible Shield picks up where that one left off.

Working again with producer Andy Sneap, the band's touring guitarist since 2018, Judas Priest roars through 11 songs that deliver on the ferocity of their metal-stamped titles: "The Serpent and the King," "Gates of Hell," "Sons of Thunder," "Giants in the Sky." That there's a sameness among several tracks is to be expected; the riff building and precise execution until the point of ignition have been the main assets of their career since the start.

READ MORE: Judas Priest Announces 'Invincible Shield' Tour

Judas Priest wastes no time picking targets and locking in. "It's a sign of the times when bedlam rules / When the masses condone pompous fools / And the scales of justice tips in disarray," Rob Halford sings in the opening "Panic Attack," politically ambiguous but righteous in its indignation. Like much of the album, it's not exactly new territory for the band but delivered with hell-beckoning intensity all the same.

Invincible Shield makes few concessions toward contemporary metal; Judas Priest in 2024 doesn't sound all that different from Judas Priest in 1984. Drums roll in like major storm systems, guitars churn out riffs with the speed and dexterity of a race car driver and Halford still hits ear-piercing notes as he did in his early 30s. From the full-on nuclear assaults of "The Serpent and the King" and the title track to "Trial by Fire," a highlight from the album's less-exciting back half, this is Judas Priest operating at near hall-of-fame levels.

Top 50 Albums of 1984

It's not only one of the decade's peak years, it also saw the release of some of the biggest and best records ever made.

Gallery Credit: Michael Gallucci

More From Ultimate Classic Rock