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I'm not familiar with all of Riot's immense catalog, but if their other albums are even half as good as Thundersteel then I guess I need to check them out because this album rocks. There's a certain feeling, an attitude that it gives off that alot of similar albums lack. The songs are mostly all fast and in your face, the production is good, maybe a bit raw but it fits the album nicely. The musicianship is great, the guitars are frantic but still have a nice touch of melody. The drums are also great, lots of fills and good cymbal work. The bass is inaudible though, as with so many metal albums from the 80s. Vocalist Tony Moore takes a little getting used to, he has a very over the top style, lots of high pitched squeals. But he sounds good when he needs to(especially on "Bloodstreets.")
The album starts off with a good 1-2 punch, "Thundersteel" and "Fight or Fall." Both are high energy, speed metal monsters. Most people seem to praise the title track, but I actually prefer "Fight or Fall" while not as fast, it is incredibly catchy. "Sign of the Crimson Storm" changes things up a bit, well alot really. It's much slower, almost sounds like late 70's hard rock like Deep Purple or something, catchy fucking chorus though. "Flight of the Warrior" picks up where the first 2 tracks left off, it's very fast speed metal, and probably my second favorite song on the album. The verses are great, the chorus is just plain infectious, and the banshee wail near the end is amazing. Skip to 3:52 to see what I mean, "the flight of the warri-aaaahhhhhhhh yeah!!" "Johnnys Back" is another rocker, not as fast as the other tracks, but not as Deep Purple-ish as Sign of the Crimson Storm. Good vocals, aggressive drumming, and another catchy ass chorus.
Then onto the pinnacle of the album, "Bloodstreets." It's a much softer song, even with a little acoustic part at the beginning, but once it gets going it picks up pace a bit. The chorus is absolutely god-like, one of the most catchy things I have ever heard, Tony Moore must have been channeling Bruce Dickinson to pull this off. He can be a little annoying at times but he is perfect on this track. The two solos are fucking epic, everything about the song is awesome. "Buried Alive" is an awesome closer, I'm a fan of Poe so I really enjoyed this one. Using quotes from "The Fall of the House of Usher" and lyrical themes obviously inspired by Poes many tales of being buried alive. The song has a nice slow chug to it, almost Sabbath type riffs, great closer.
Truly one of the great, classic albums of the 80s, and comparable to some of the big names like Priest, Maiden, etc. And even better than alot of the big name releases from the 80s. Can't recommend this one enough, it has a bit of everything, which makes it highly accessible. I have some good memories of driving to work on a sunny summer morning with "Flight of the Warrior" blasting. Anyways, get this album if you don't all ready have it, you won't regret it.