"Turbo". This album sees the band going back to the sound before the weird, glam metal experiment, but does not reach all the way. It is fairly obvious to see that "Turbo" and "Ram It Down" are like two brothers that may have different interests, but they are clearly related to each other.
The music here is heavy, but it is not at the same level at all like "Screaming For Vengeance" or "Defenders of The Faith", And even if Downing and Tipton spits out riff after riff, it just does not feel the same, like they are playing it safe. Thankfully, Halford shows up with another stellar performance, screaming with all his might to give this album a stronger punch to it. Sadly, this was the last album that Dave Holland appeared in, and because of health issues, he did not even complete his work on this record, forcing the band to use a drum machine in some parts, something that drags the overall sound down a little.
The album does start off strong with Rob Halford kick (or rather scream) starting the title track, which is a classic speed metal song from the band. No surprises here, just clean heavy metal. Speaking of heavy metal, that is the name of the following song. While the song itself is more controlled and feels like a brother to "You've Got Another Thing Comin'", it does start of with some furious shredding that makes me think "Did Eddie Van Halen make a guest appearance right there?". It is a good 1-2-punch to get your rock engine running, that's for sure.
After that, the music does lose some momentum, but we do still have a couple of cool songs to go before we reach the end of the album. "Blood Red Skies" is a nice power ballad where Halford displays tons of emotion, "Hard As Iron" is pure shredding goodness (even with that semi-awkward chorus), and "I'm A Rocker" is a nice little anthem that fits the band well. However, I do not understand why the band included a cover of the Chuck Berry song "Johnny B. Goode" (besides the fact that it was part of the soundtrack to the 1988 movie "Johnny Be Good"). It is a silly cover that feels really misplaced in this album. And after a love and romance heavy album such as "Turbo", they keep coming back to that subject with the songs "Love Zone" and "Love You To Death", making me think that if the "Twin Turbos" project would have been a reality, the two albums would not have been all to different from each other.
I am seriously confused over "Ram It Down". I am both loving the album, but also loathing it. It is a good, diverse album indeed, but maybe it is too diverse for its own good. I really do not know, and to be honest, I do not care. In the end though, it is the upsides that weigh over in its favour, and makes the album an overall decent experience. Some bits here and there are awesome and shows that "Turbo" was a one time thing, and those bits who did not show it still have some grain of brilliance that makes you endure it all. "Ram It Down" is far from the best Judas Priest record to come out, and it certainly will not blow you away, but it has its fair share of good moments that one should acknowledge.
Songs worthy of recognition: Blood Red Skies, Ram It Down, Hard As Iron
Rating: 7/10 Rockers