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Judas Priest apparently wanted to get heir act back together after the infamous 1986 album, "Turbo". 1988's "Ram It Down" was almost as equally controversial, due to it infamously being made up of "Turbo" leftovers, semi-pandering "WE ARE SOOOO METAL" rockers, and more technological interruption, resulting in what is probably the oddest in the band's discography. It's inconsistent, often lame, sometimes heavy, with a feeling of Priest going through the motions and a dated, uber-80's sound to it. Yet, is "Ram It Down" that awful?
Well, most of the band add a bit more power this round. Halford lets loose more of his traditional shrieks and wails this time around, sounding more aggressive (but also more rushed) than on "Turbo". Glenn and KK are yet again the stars here, their trade-off solos scorching, memorable, and again aggressive, though the still apparent use synth guitars gets a bit nerve-shredding. Then there's Ian Hill again. Competent, but unremarkable. He again manages to shine on quieter or heavier tracks like "Blood Red Skies" or "Come And Get It". Then there's Dave Holland...who's nowhere to be found. From what I understand, he was sick during much of the recording, though he did pound out a few numbers. He was replaced by a drum machine, a drum machine which I will not critique because it's a fucking drum machine. It makes the songs sound processed and synthetic...because its a fucking drum machine. Bad choice guys.
Luckily, some of the songs are pretty damn solid. Everybody's gotta love the title track and "Hard As Iron", a pair of fearsome, adrenaline-pumping speed metallers with killer vocals and blazing guitar dueling. Not even the synthetic drumming can bring these rabid dogs down! A personal favorite of mine is the epic "Blood Red Skies". Corny? Yeah, maybe, but man is this song beautiful too, with its experimental intro, lavish vocals and an emotional main solo. Great, great stuff. Much of what I also find decent are also pretty fillerish, too. I have a soft spot for numbers like the mid-paced "I'm A Rocker" in spite of its corny lyrics, as well as the slightly heavier "Come And Get It" with its catchy main riff and stomping vocals. The REALLY cheesy "Heavy Metal" is kind of a fun listen as well, the heavy metal pandering just goes off the charts here. Avoidable numbers are "LA LA Love Zone!" Blech! Another bad one is "Monsters of Rock", one of the most boring, plodding Priest songs ever, and probably one of their worst album finales since the end of "Defenders of the Faith".
Overall, this is one odd album. It's inconsistent, and reeks of unwanted technological inference, causing an unwanted dated feel. The bad songs downright suck, but some of the technical filler moments I think are actually kind of fun, while the trio of "Ram It Down", "Hard As Iron, and "Blood Red Skies" help bring the album up to an at least semi-respectable level. A decent keeper for Priest purists, but not a good start for new fans. Think twice on this monster of rock.