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Back in 1988, in New York, I received an advanced cassette copy of what was the first Riot album since" Born In America". "Thundersteel" remained in my cassette deck till it literally wore out. This was Riot's first foray into the speed/power metal genre and their efforts were astounding.
Featuring a revamped lineup with the exception of mainstay Mark Reale, the new Riot took heavy metal to new technical heights. The title track is absolute 95 MPH speed with a terribly catchy riff. The solo is long and classically oriented with a familliar Accept "Fast As A Shark" like segment. Tony Moore's voice soars high and clear over everything. The bass work by Don Van Stavern is excellent as is the precision drumming by Bobby "The Zombie" Jarzombek. " Fight Or Fall" continues the frantic pace. "Fight or fall, in the name of the children, fight or fall in the name of us all" screams Moore, and he means it too! "Sign of the Crimson Storm" is a much slower Sabbath type offering that is excellent as well. "Flight of the Warrior" and "On Wings of Eagles" take us on the manic ride again at 85 MPH. How could a metalhead not love lyrics like "Heat seeker flash headed straight for your heart, one finds the mark and a fireball rocks the sky; men and machines sweet and deadly we are, we rule the wind on titanium wings"." Johnny's Back" is next up. It is very catchy and probably could have been a radio hit for Riot. "Tell the boys to step aside, tell the girls to form a line, the king is back to claim the land again". "Bloodstreets" is a fine ballad, slow and yet powerful at the same time, another "should have been" radio hit. "Run for Your Life" is really the only weak song on the album and it seems like the band needed to fill up four minutes of time on the record. "Thundersteel" concludes in creepy fashion with "Buried Alive (The Tell Tale Heart)", a story of a man who awakens in a coffin at his own funeral. You even hear the sounds of the wake going on outside the coffin! While not a great song, it is good and brings to a close a near-great effort by a very fine group of musicians.
This album was not given the promotion it required by CBS and while it charted in Billboard, it died a quick death. The band of course continued battling onward, fighting the good fight and never compromised. Thundersteel is a fine representation of Riot in 1988, or for that matter in 2006. Spend your money on this excellent piece of music."