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Absolutely huge. - 94%

langstondrive, May 19th, 2005

Priest's 1988 album "Ram it Down" is a far cry from their previous album, being the sub-par, 80s influenced "Turbo". On this effort, Halford and the band prepare to win back the fans of the heavier side of Priest with some nice molten metal.

The album opens with the smoking title track, easily one of (if not the) best Priest song ever. The soloing is completely off the wall, and Halford's vocals are in top shape after sounding a bit shakey on "Turbo". One thing that has definitely returned on this album, especially the title track, is the energy that was last seen on "Screaming for Vengeance". The band seems really "in" to the music, and Halford's vocals are more impassionated than ever before. The second track, the aptly titled "Heavy Metal" (there's Priest for ya...), begins with a solo that tears your body limb from limb before careening into a full on assault, chugging riff with Halford's classic high vocals. The chorus is absolute destruction, albeit very simple. Overall, a very enjoyable song. "Love Zone" is quite the lame title, but the riffs are not lacking. The drum pattern here is really nice as well. Halford is back with the screeching, the lyrics also have a semblence of continuity with their cheeziness as well. The chorus on this one is nice as well, especially with the addition of the "marching" bridge into the next verse (of death). "Come and Get It" starts off a bit too typical, but the intro solo is a nice touch (once again). Halford also seems to have settled his voice down as well, but his aggression is astounding. Another nice chorus (1), + Halford's killer vocal range (2) + a riff monster (3) = four excellent songs in a row.

"Hard as Iron" is a return to speed, and is a complete riff beast. Halford's vocals are extremely cool, gotta love the doubled low parts. The riffs here have to be heard, as Priest comes up with their best track on the album since the opener. It's songs like this one that make me wonder why this album is so widely regarded as insignificant in Priest's career, albeit, it has to live in the shadow of "Painkiller". That being said, the speed found on certain songs on "Ram It Down" would have no problem standing toe to toe with "Painkiller" tracks, which is certainly saying something considering that aforementioned 1990 "Excalibur" of metal records is godly. "Blood Red Skies" slows things down a lot, but retains the quality, showcasing a different side of Halford (that one you saw on "Take these Chains" and "Last Rose of Summer"). The track picks up, and attacks with some potent riffs, but in my opinion, it lacks the power of the previous tracks. "I'm a Rocker" - lame title/excellent rock song. Pretty slow, but the chorus is huge, and the energy presented in the track is absolutely amazing, I believe that "Johnny B. Goode" is a cover (of which blues musician I do not recall...Chuck Berry was it?). It's okay, but doesn't stand up to the power of the other songs. "Love You to Death"...or was it "Criminally Insane"? An excellent build-up to a unique riff used in the verse. A real headbanger, gets one back into the music after the sub-par "Johnny B. Goode". The album ends in typical epic fashion, "Monsters of Rock". Talk about "anthem rock"...the first minute of this song wouldn't look out of place on a soundtrack to an epic battle scene. Halford's whispering is nice, the riffs here are killer. A fine end to an excellent, underrated Priest album. Get it!