Judas Priest - 1988 Ram It Down

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ARTIST: Judas Priest
ALBUM: Ram It Down
LABEL: CBS
SERIAL: 461108 2
YEAR: 1988
CD REISSUE: 2001, Columbia, 502137 2

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Rob Halford - vocals * K.K Downing - guitars * Glenn Tipton - guitars * Ian Hill - bass * Dave Holland - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Ram It Down * 02 Heavy Metal * 03 Love Zone * 04 Come And Get It * 05 Hard As Iron * 06 Blood Red Skies * 07 I'm A Rocker * 08 Johnny B Goode * 09 Love You To Death * 10 Monsters Of Rock

Background

In 1986 Priest found themselves caught up in synth mania as that years 'Turbo' appalled fans with its slick use of the instrument accompanied by music that teetered on hard rock.

The album was a melodic success however, and had been slowly built up to over the preceding years as the band moved away from its heavy metal bombast.

It wasn't what Priest were really about though, and 1988's 'Ram It Down' was an obvious return to a heavier sound.

Priest maintained their standing as one of the most popular metal acts worldwide, but the slightly cartoonish sound of 'Ram It Down' paled in comparison to the likes of Megadeth, Slayer and the thrash movement, which had taken the metal world by force in the late 80's.

The Songs

The title track is traditional fast paced Priest, dominated by Downing and Tipton's series of virtuoso solos, a message of intent.

As if to prove they were 'back', 'Heavy Metal 'is the next track, an anthem not as genre defining as hoped, but with a chantable chorus you can just picture some 1988 metalheads banging their heads to.

'Lovezone' is not unlike 80's Kiss, in both raunchy subject matter and brazen chord changes but 'Come And Get It' succeeds on the back of tough riffing and a soaring bridge which screams 'do you like it heavy, do you like it loud?'

Priest stake their claim for the undisputed metal throne as 'Hard As Iron' gives Manowar a run in the race for triumphant metal anthems. There's a solid punch packed in the music, glorious life reaffirming stuff.

Eight minute epic 'Blood Red Skies' boasts shades of 'Turbo's high tech approach with what sounds like bass synths pumping everywhere, same goes for 'I'm A Rocker', yet another self explanatory and lovably cornball anthem.

The cover of 'Johnny B. Goode' is admirably handled, followed by another naughty piece of fluff, 'Love You To Death'.

Another paean to the glory of heavy metal appears with 'Monsters Of Rock', the least addictive moment of the album.

In Summary

Priest returned two years later with new drummer Scott Travis (Racer X) and their heaviest album since 1984 with 'Painkiller'.

It proved Priest could sit with the younger set, an aggressive collection that bordered on thrash itself on occasions. It was as overblown as 'Ram It Down' lyrically, but the music sounded more serious.

'Ram It Down' is the step Priest would take on route to 'Painkiller'. With hints of their 'Turbo' era still intact, it pushed the album into the category of cartoon metal, fun to listen to and easy to laugh at, the whole bloody point I suppose.

Compared to the often appalling 'Ripper' Owens era, it's a masterpiece.


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