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Ah, the almighty Judas Priest. can they do any wrong? Well, besides Turbo. And Demolition. And Point of Entry. That concept album was pretty iffy, too, but the least offensive of Priest's missteps in their career has to be "Ram It Down." It's really all-around not a bad album, but it's among the most filler-heavy in JP's discography. Yeah, there's rip-roaring solos everywhere you go and Rob Halford does plenty of his signature wailing, but the lyrics... good God, the lyrics are pretty abominable, akin to the worst of Manowar's "metal-as-fuck" material like "Metal Warriors." Anybody who knows Judas Priest knows that they rock; they don't need songs describing how "metal" they are. They're the Metal Gods, for Chrissake! Ironically enough, most of the songs on here are among the LEAST metal in JP's discography. "Love Zone," for example, reeks of glam metal overtones, almost more so than anything on "Turbo." That Motley Crue-esque catchy-but-simplistic guitar riff, that drum machine churning out an equally simplistic beat...it just sounds really dated. It's been said that Turbo and Ram It Down were originally going to be a double album. Admittedly, a lot of the material on here wouldn't sound out of place coupled with "Turbo."
Luckily, there are some saving graces here, like the opening titular track. It's still cheesy as hell, but dammit if it isn't enjoyable. "Hard As Iron" is also a pretty fast cooker. Nowhere near the best JP has ever done, but more enjoyable than a lot of the other schlock on this album. The following track, "Blood Red Skies", is an 8-minute epic. It still sounds totally '80s, but a good part of the '80s where music videos that took place in dark alleyways that had fog machines made sense and were socially acceptable. The cover of "Johnny B. Goode", while completely unnecessary, is still mildly entertaining but a bit overlong considering the original song is only like 2 and a half minutes. This cover is FOUR MINUTES AND FORTY SECONDS! I understand they wanna throw in a few extra solos, but an extra two minutes worth? Isn't that a bit overkill?
The title "Monster of Rock" would make you believe that it's just another song about how much Judas Priest rocks, but they threw a curve ball at us! It's a song about a monster made of physical rock, which arguably sounds just as stupid, but it's really not a bad mid-paced tune. Rob Halford gives a menacing performance, but the lyrics are still pretty bad.
Other than the aforementioned songs, most of the songs on this album have the same problem - for how much JP talk about how much they rock on this album, the material presented doesn't rock too hard, especially compared to some of their earlier works. There are no "Bloodstones," no "Sinners," no "Tyrants," no "Freewheel Burnings," not even a goddamn "Living After Midnight." Just several mediocre hard/glam rock tracks coupled with some signature Priest solos. It's far from the worst they've released, but also far from the best. Only hardcore Priest fans need apply.