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Review: Riot - Thundersteel

Label: CBS
Year released: 1988
Duration: 46:06
Tracks: 9
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 4.75/5

Review online: August 4, 2015
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
Readers Rating

Rated 4.64/5 (92.77%) (47 Votes)

It's hard to believe that a webzine which has been crushing posers for as long as this one has somehow forgot to review this fine album, so I guess the honor is mine. Thundersteel was the fifth album from New York's Riot, their first after a long hiatus, and it became an instant classic which is still revered to this day. Without this album there would be no HammerFall or Hibria; it's as integral to the rebirth of Power Metal as the classic Helloween albums, as important in the USPM scene as Transcendence or The Warning, for it ushered in a new level of continuous speed that would only be matched by Painkiller two years later. But enough of the history lesson. How does it stand up to modern standards?

Pretty damn well, actually. There's an undeniable 80s charm to this, not only in the production but in the songs themselves. This would strictly be one for 80s metal fans if the songs weren't up to scratch, but they are, and that's what makes Thundersteel timeless. From the opening barrage of the title track to the dark, twisting closing of the epic "Tell Tale Heart", there's not a dull moment to be found. The title track has to be one of the most metal compositions ever written, with vocalist Tony Moore busting a gut producing some of the highest notes ever, while "Fight or Fall", with its riotous gang vocals, is the blueprint HammerFall took to base their entire career upon. This is mostly galloping, throttling, high-voltage Power Metal, with insane double-bass abuse and screaming falsettos, but the slower tunes are just as good, with "Sign of The Crimson Storm" jutting along with an infectious groove, and "Bloodstreets" giving Moore enough room to showcase his talents as a vocalist. Special attention must be given to the late Mark Reale, who owns this fucker with absolutely essential metal riffs (are you man enough to handle the opening to "Flight of The Warrior"?), not to mention his solos, which are well-crafted slices of pure molten US steel.

At times emotional and quaint yet always metal as hell, Thundersteel is a classic, and if you have any interest in melodic metal at all and have yet to add this to your collection, remedy that this instant and join me as without end, we acclaim: And now at last we know he's real, the power of his sword we feel – THUNDERSTEEEEEEL!

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