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I purchased this album back in the Eighties after a late teen introduction to Priest. It followed on after two second hand purchases of Sad Wings Of Destiny and the brilliant Screaming For Vengeance. Move forward to today, and the Internet shows me that metal fans are as touchy and disloyal as pop music fans. Worrying indeed.
This album slams into being with a meaty title track, Ram It Down. Halfords high pitched scream and Tipton and Downing's dual guitars let you know immediately that the Judas Priest machine is firing on all cylinders. The title Ram It Down is pure speed and classic metal, a great track indeed.
Next up is the aptly titled 'Heavy Metal'. Tipton preps your ears with a Van Halen like intro solo done with a Priest flavour, thereafter Halford's voice greets your ears. Unlike the Turbo album, the energy in Halford and the chunk of the twin guitars lets you know that Priest are back to business as usual. The chorus lyrics are a little weak, but the beautiful riffs, Halford's scream and the machine gun drumming more than compensate for this.
Priest take us into the 'Love Zone' next with a drum beat opening onto the catchy guitar chunk riff. Cue some more chunky riff and Halford wailing high and loud about 'razor legs and painted smiles'. Good stuff this, I am sold.
Flowing on from the Zone we have 'Come and Get It'. The song opens with more chunky riffs onto some lovely wailing lead work. Halford asks if you 'Like it heavy, do you like it mean?' because, as he says, 'they don't play it clean'. More of the same, this song would definably be a crowd pleaser at live events.
This leads us into 'Hard As Iron', a faster adrenaline fueled track. Halford warns us 'the more you resist, the more pain you feel'. Some great quick speed break guitar pieces among the set riff. Some anthem potential here.
Next the listener is surprised by an epic 'Blood Red Sky's' The song starts with some electronic sounds which back a beautiful acoustic guitar intro. This is overlaid with a calm Halford singing some great lyrics which setup the mood for this large track. Finally the heartbeat drum entrance lifts the song out of the acoustic and into the electric. I read another reviewer who compared it to Bloodstone, good comparison.
The next treat is 'I'm A Rocker'. Priest continues to let us know that they are still and always will be the rock and roll metal gods they always where. Where 'Hard As Iron' had anthem potential, this song is an anthem. The beat is laid back and the opening has Halford starting out with his trademark scream. Nice song with nice chunky, laid back guitar riffs.
Next we have the most mistaken and abused song on the album. 'Johnny B. Goode' starts with a blistering opening which displays just why twin lead guitars are a good idea. The boys take Chuck berry's classic (from the album Chuck ..Berry on top) and Priestify it in grand tradition. I love the Berry original, I love the AC/DC version, I love the Peter Tosh version, and now I love the Priest version too. It's Priest's own interpretation, and that is great. The song starts with the guitars doing their twin thing, winding in and out and up and down. The drums kick in, Halford screams high and 'Johnny B. Goode' kicks off proper. The sound is thick and mean with Halford's voice doing the vocals as only he can. At the end of each verse the guitars punctuate in a way that stamps the track in your mind. Backed by an equally energetic black and white video, all in all this is a great song.
After this its on to 'Love You To Death'. This starts with a thick drum intro, a humorous whip crack and some more twisty thick guitar. The song is more loose and the lyrics a little more cheesy, but by the middle of the song I was sining along with a grin. The lyrics are all tongue in cheek anyway. The song ends with Halford imploring that whoever has the whip must 'do it like that, yeah!' along with moans of aggressive extasy. Excellent stuff boys, excellent stuff.
The album ends with the song I found a little boring, though that is just my personal opinion. After a highly fueled experience, 'Monsters Of Rock' was a little slow and possibly lacking in some extra lead riff work. The song aims at the deep, heavy rock god classic type song, but does not really come off all that great.
Still with 9 solid tracks out of 10, this represents a great Priest album, a worthy outing before Painkiller and a fine album in their overall discography. To the reviewers and fans that slag this album, I guess if you and one of your mates can strap on some Gibson Flying Vee's and create/emulate the work of Tipton and Downing, then sure, have a rant about the album, the rest of you really need to harden up. With that said, I must agree that the drum machine is no match for a human drummer, one can hear the machine like drumming, but hey I can think of many bands at the time who were experimenting with drum machines, hell Sisters Of Mercy sold many albums with one and even named it Dr. Beat.
Nice work Priest, Metal Gods forever!