“Ram it Down” is the 11th studio album by British heavy metal band, Judas Priest. It was released in 1988 on Columbia Records and produced by the band with Tom Allom. The line-up for the album was Rob Halford (vocals), Glenn Tipton (guitar), K.K. Downing (guitar), Ian Hill (bass) and Dave Holland (drums).
It’s hard to imagine a band still going strong in 2013 – as Judas Priest was – releasing its 11th album 24 years prior, but what you have here is the band’s heaviest record. That is until the release of its successor, 1990’s “Painkiller”. “Ram it Down” would be the last Priest studio album produced by Tom Allom, after he’d worked with the band since 1979, and the final studio album with long-time drummer, Dave Holland. Is it any good? Let’s find out!
Ram it Down
The album’s opener and title song begins with a piercing Rob Halford scream before hitting the listener with the twin guitars of Downing and Tipton which don’t let up until the song is over. As is the norm with many a Judas Priest record, the guitar solo duel is a highlight of this track. It is a song about what happens when Priest plays live. They roll through town and put on a show, then once they’ve rammed it down your throats, they leave and march on to the next.
This is a slower-paced song, but has that catchy chorus everyone strived for at that time. However, the lyrics are rather clichéd, revolving around playing guitars and concerts with leather clothing, chains and bullet belts. The song is about the genre of heavy metal and what effect it has on the listener. And no, the majority of heavy metal fans are not going to go out and kill a bunch of people just because they listen to the genre. They are unique and no other genre has a hardcore group of fans like them.
This track takes the album on a downward slide with its almost glam metal tones; you’d likely hear the likes of Poison, Ratt and Mötley Crüe singing playing a song like this, but definitely not a band like Judas Priest. This is a song about sex and how the narrator wants to take his lucky woman on a ride to the love zone in the fast lane. He’s saying that there’s no stopping until they get there, so they have to hold on tight.
Come and Get It
On to “Come and Get It”, which makes up for the lack of Judas Priest-ness on the previous two songs. Finally you get what you want and that’s Halford’s full vocal range, Tipton/Downing guitars in synchrony, which makes it the stand-out song on the album. It’s another song about the genre of heavy metal, and the narrator is telling the fans that if they want it they better come and get it. Halford’s vocals are immense here.
Hard as Iron
With “Hard as Iron” we get a taste of what Dave Holland can do on a drumkit. The double bass is fast, and in a jazz-style beat it pulls the song through, lifting the album back on its feet from its earlier downward spiral.
Blood Red Skies
This track begins with an intro of guitars which sound not unlike the main orchestral harmony from Kylie Minogue’s “Confide in Me”… although this was written a good 7 years before Kylie released that single. Who says pop stars don’t steal from metal artists?! Halford’s vocals are on absolutely top form here, too. At nearly 8 minutes long, the song is by far the longest on the album and can be classed as a power ballad.
I’m a Rocker
This is another Judas Priest classic, giving the listener a treat in heavy metal. The song keeps to the same tempo from start to end, and it is a crowd favourite at many a Priest gig.
Johnny B. Goode
What can be said about “Johnny B. Goode” that already hasn’t been? Everyone knows this record and if you don’t, where have you been in the music world? Chuck Berry recorded the original, and it has been covered by everyone from AC/DC to The Who, with Judas Priest in-between.
Love You to Death
This song has that 1980s metal feel to it. A simple fist-banging chorus with chugging guitars and a solid drum beat. It’s one of the easiest songs the band recorded for the album, but it’s also one of the best.
Monsters of Rock
This song pays homage to the Donington Monsters of Rock festival, which was held annually from 1980 until 1996. Judas Priest played the festival in 1980 for the first and only time, along with Touch, Riot, Saxon, April Wine, Scorpions and headliners, Rainbow.
“Ram it Down” is a great Judas Priest album. Halford doesn’t really hit the high notes as we’ve grown used to him doing, but what he does is more than most vocalists could ever dream of. He’s effortless when singing and makes it sound so easy, when it really isn’t.
- Ram it Down
- Heavy Metal
- Love Zone
- Come and Get It
- Hard as Iron
- Blood Red Skies
- I’m a Rocker
- Johnny B. Goode
- Love You to Death
- Monsters of Rock