Review Summary: Priest make a tiny step upwards in quality from their worst album, making something that is more enjoyable, but still not up to the adequate level.
Failing to release their planned double album Twin Turbos
, Judas Priest now were stuck with the heavier material they had recorded and still wanted to release. As a result, much of this material was moved to the band’s new album: Ram It Down
. The new album was still commercial in nature, but the songs were different in more ways than just sounding heavier. More technical drumming, faster tempos, sci-fi themes and a less synth-driven sound led to an album that mixed the glam metal/arena rock approach found on Turbo
with speed metal features, of which the latter would become very apparent of the acclaimed return-to-form Painkiller
in 1990. As for this album, Priest was still in a commercial phase, both musically and lyrically, and the lyrics are even cheesier than those found on Turbo
. Ram it Down
was released in 1988 and brought at end to Priest’s second decade.
Ram It Down’s Judas Priest was:
- Robert John Arthur Halford ~ Vocals
- Kenneth Downing Jr. ~ Lead Guitar
- Glenn Raymond Tipton ~ Lead Guitar
- Ian Frank Hill ~ Bass Guitar
- David Holland ~ Drums
The sound change is evident as the albums kicks off with an old-fashioned scream from Halford, followed by higher-pitched and heavier guitars, as well as faster drums. Those who have heard Painkiller
will certainly strongly recognize its features in its predecessor. We have entered the title track, which is very representative for the overall sound. A standout also, for it is doing everything just a bit better than the rest of the tracks. Priest seem on the right track in the beginning, sound like they’re having fun, but the massively cheesy lyrics than tell of ‘thousands of cars and a million guitars, screaming with power in the air’ are anti-climatic to the great start.
Unfortunately, Ram It Down
plods along in too much the same way. After a couple of tracks, it is obvious that they all sound very much alike to the first track, albeit to a lesser quality. The only songs that do not suffer from an identity crisis are the epic Blood Red Skies
and Johnny B. Goode
. The former, described by Tipton as ‘Victim of Changes, model 1988’, is a letdown when compared to Priest’s other epics, and more what Out in the Cold
was to Turbo
than anything else: a necessary change of pace. The latter is a cover of the famous Chuck Berry
song, and gets a nice metallic makeover like The Green Malanishi way before, with great results in which especially the vocals and guitars stand out, resulting in the highlight of the album.
The rest of the second half is just as tedious and cheesy like the first (What do you expect, with titles like I’m A Rocker
, Love You to Death
and Monsters of Rock
?), and doesn’t create a very interesting listen. That said, Ram it Down
can be quite enjoyable if you don’t mind excessive amounts of cheese and samey sounding songs, and it is a slightly better, nicely heavy-sounding effort than the often cringe-worthy Turbo
. It is more of a bridge between than its commercial predecessor and its speed metal follow-up, but luckily style-consistent.
Judas Priest are at least getting on the right track again after Turbo
, but when looked at critically, Ram It Down
is a rather average record, due to too similar sounding songs and cheese that is beyond proportions. It depends very much on the listener how enjoyable it is, but it is advised to make Priest’s 11th studio album one of the last additions to your collection, even if you bother to add it at all.
+ Sounds pleasantly heavy again for a change
+ Consistent in style
- VERY cheesy
Johnny B. Goode
Ram It Down
Blood Red Skies