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Flashback Album Review: Judas Priest - Ram It Down
One of Judas Priest's most underrated albums is 35 years old
The eleventh Judas Priest album arrived on May 17 1988, an album that came after the failed presentation that was Turbo, the successor of that experiment would be called Ram It Down.
I wouldn't know whether to call it precisely a successor since several tracks of Ram It Down were destined to be included in the famous Twin Turbo (the double album that was planned to be released). In my personal opinion Ram It Down seems to me the most underrated or under-appreciated album of all the discography of the metal gods. That return to their roots did not have the response the band expected.
Opening in a brutal way with the title track, Rob Halford bursts our eardrums with a scream that only someone like him could emit, to immediately start with some crushing riffs by Glenn Tipton and KK Downing and a drum kit with an impressive drum roll. It is worth mentioning that although Dave Holland is credited as drummer, he did not participate in the recording of the album, being replaced by pre-recorded tracks of his own that were worked with digital drums. Despite that, in the videos of the tour we can see how Dave shows his mastery to play completely fast songs like Ram It Down, and what can be said about the guitar solos by the twin guitars? One of the most epic guitar duels I've ever heard in my life.
The second song is an ode to our genre, Heavy Metal, which starts with an unhinged guitar solo by Tipton, continuing with a drum and bass that together sound more than perfect, and a chorus that sounds like a war cry. Love Zone lowers the intensity of the record a little and offers a lighter song, with that 80's metal air.
Come and Get It, the fourth song that boasts one of the best riffs of Glenn Tipton, wild but fresh and at the same time aggressive, from the first few seconds of the initial riff the head can already be shaking, another theme that has all the air of Turbo, but obviously excluding the synthesizers, the aggressive passive voice of Rob Halford in this song is incredible. The speed returns with Hard as Iron, which fuses wild riffs with an impressive double bass drum.
For the second half of the album we came across the epic Blood Red Skies, a post-apocalyptic theme that begins with beautiful arpeggios by Tipton and a melodious voice by Halford, which give way to drums, bass and a completely spectacular guitar riff. A vocal moment by Rob Halford completely out of this world, making use of synthesizers clearly in this track. Blood Red Skies leaves us with our mouths completely open.
After that hook to the liver we returned to earth to enjoy a rock anthem, the great I'm a Rocker, a song that identifies us not only as fans of Judas Priest but rock and metal in general. The chorus is completely sublime; one that can lift your spirits at any time.
In Ram It Down we find a cover (something that seems completely unnecessary with what we have already heard so far) and it is a metal version of Chuck Berry's classic, Johnny B. Goode, a song that was part of the soundtrack of the movie of the same name. A cover that I feel unnecessary, but it does not seem bad at all, although some find it one of the worst Johnny B. Goode covers.
Love You To Death is perhaps the only filler track I could find here. Flat and without much to offer, I think if they had taken it from the original cut of the album, nothing would have happened. To close the album we find the monstrous Monsters Of Rock, a slow song (the slowest of the album) but extremely heavy, with an air similar to Blood Red Skies, it is not an extraordinary ending, but it is a worthy end after everything heard.
After Ram It Down, one era ended for Judas Priest and a completely new one would begin two years later. This attempt to return to their roots was not very well received, perhaps by that bittersweet Turbo, but without a doubt it is one of the best eighties works of the metal gods.
All the fury and speed that Judas Priest is capable of can not only be seen in Painkiller, Ram It Down is a completely brutal stroke. An epic closure for the most important era of Judas Priest; the eighties stage.