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Review: Thunder Rider - Tales Of Darkness And Light - Chapter II
Thunder Rider
Tales Of Darkness And Light - Chapter II

Label: Independent
Year released: 2003
Duration: 66:00
Tracks: 16
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: March 6, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
Tales Of Darkness And Light - Chapter II

Rated 4.67/5 (93.33%) (3 Votes)

When a band is said to be like Manilla Road, Omen and Doomsword I sit up and take notice. The last time I took a shot like that was on Solemnity, so that didn't work out so good. But this time the Ol' metal detector led me straight on. Thunder Rider have apparently been around for a long-ass time, as Part 1 of "Tales Of Darkness And Light" was put out in frigging 1987. I think 17 years has to be some kind of record for time elapsed between debut and follow-up.

Now this is Epic Heavy Metal! Thunder Rider do have some rough similarities to Omen or Doomsword with their stripped-down riff style and anthemic songs. They play mostly slow or midpaced with a doomy edge, though the guitar sound is much more a bare bones Omen style than the sludgy heaviness one associates with Doom Metal. Vocalist John Blackwing has a voice highly reminiscent of Mike Scalzi of The Lord Weird Slough Feg, with a touch of Doomsword's Deathmaster. He uses a very theatrical, dramatic style and he carries it very well. There aren't any vocal histrionics going on here, and no operatic wailing, but all these songs are very catchy and beltable, making you want to sing along while you headbang like a retard. There are an astonishing 16 tracks on this thing, clocking in at over an hour, and the silly last track aside, this is an awesome disc. They kick off with the booming "Thy Kingdom Come" and never let up. Standouts here include the addictive "Death Angel", the stomping "Holy Terror", The sprawling "Heavy Metal Wizzard", "Evil Slayer" and "Dark Castle". All the songs in between are very cool too, so it's hard to really pick favorites. Every one has great riffs and singable vocal hooks. There are even three instrumentals included: "Final Eclipse", "Child's Prayer", and "Interlude In D-Minor" to break up the heavy attack, but they don't detract from the flow of the CD, but just add to the huge, epic feel of the album.

I have rarely seen such a lavish presentation for a CD, especially for a self-release. You get the hour-plus CD, a lavishly (if amateurishly) illustrated 24-page booklet, a sticker, a temporary tattoo, and a guitar pick. It's over-the-top, but you sure get your money's worth. Some of the artwork here has to be seen to be believed, as it mostly looks like Dungeons and Dragons artwork from the early 80's. They even included it all in 'widescreen' format for your computer so you can have Thunder Rider wallpaper. Refreshingly, this 'interactive' content does not prevent you from playing it on a CD-ROM drive.

For a band that I have never heard of, Thunder Rider sure know what they are doing, and they seem to be having a lot of fun doing it. Fans of 80's metal like Omen, Manilla Road, Medieval Steel and Warlord, or more modern proponents of the style like Doomsword, Battleroar, or Slough Feg will eat this up. It's cheesy, and the production could be punchier, but for doomy epic heavy fucking metal, Thunder Rider are going to be hard to beat.

Other related information on the site
Interview with John Blackwing (Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Flute) on March 22, 2005 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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