Reviewed: January 2000
Released: 1988, CBS Records
Thundersteel. This CD was released by Riot in 1988. I can remember looking at this release in the record store back in the late 80s and thinking “Who are Riot?” I wish that I had known at the time because I would not have missed one awesome CD!!! This release absolutely screams POWER METAL! Looking at the back of the CD you wouldn’t think metal at all. There is a band photo which resembles something from the heyday of Poison. Teased hair and fringed leather jackets all around. But don’t let the picture fool you, this disc is an all out metal assault. There’s no ballads to be heard. Just great guitars and awesome drumming of the pounding double bass variety.
Mark Reale formed Riot in 1976 in New York. They started releasing albums and in 1981 released the classic “Fire Down Under”. The band then underwent a vocalist change, produced a couple more albums and finally were disbanded by Reale. In 1986 Reale reformed the band with a new label and an all new lineup with vocalist Tony Moore, bassist Don VanStavern and drummer Bobby “The Zombie” Jarzombek. This lineup released 3 albums “Thundersteel”, “The Privilege of Power” in 1990 and “Riot In Japan – Live 1991″in 1992. Moore then left the band and was replaced on vocals by Mike Dimeo who has remained with Riot up to the current day. To see what Riot are doing now check out the review for their latest CD “Sons of Society” in Metal Rules!! November reviews section.
Back to “Thundersteel”. As I mentioned, I missed this CD the first time around. It took me 11 years to “discover” what an awesome disc this is. The easiest way to describe this release is to compare it to Hammerfall. Too me it sounds like the guys in Hammerfall have heard this CD once or twice, at least. The CD opens with an absolutely blistering track called “Thundersteel.” This song sounds like it could have came from any of the great power metal bands floating around out there today. There are great vocals as Tony Moore shows us that he can belt out the tunes with the best of them. Lots of great double bass drumming ( a favorite of mine) and lots of great guitar work. “Fight or Fall” is up next with a riff that is reminiscent of “Whiplash” by the once great Metallica. Again lots of great vocal work and galloping guitars. “Sign of the Crimson Storm” slows things down a bit with a more toned down vocal line which again shows how great a vocalist Tony Moore really is. I wonder what ever happened to this guy? The track itself is about acid rain which is a favorite topic of late 80s metal bands. The next track wouldn’t be out of place on any Hammerfall CD. “Flight of the Warrior” is a classic power metal track. Jarzombek’s drumming is a highlight of this track. Another notable track is “Bloodstreets” This song is a bit slower and groovier but it is a great compliment to the all out blistering tracks. The CD closes out with the track “Buried Alive (The Tell Tale Heart)”. This is an epic track clocking in at almost 9 minutes. As the title says it’s the story of the terror of being buried alive. While not a stormer like most of the other tracks it is a fitting finisher to the CD with Moore screaming his way to the end.
All in all this is one awesome CD. If only this was released in 1998 instead of 1988 then we would would all be singing the praises of the mighty Riot. Riot are still making quality CDs but they don’t come close to the intensity of “Thundersteel.” Tony Moore is the quintessential power metal vocalist and would fit in nicely with what they are doing today. This CD is up there with any of the great metal CDs ever released. It’s too bad that Riot have never reached the level of popularity that they obviously deserve.
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