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After previously only knowing Thin Lizzy by "The Boys are Back In Town," I was blown away by "Cold Sweat" when I heard it. I instantly thought, "holy shit! This is classic heavy metal!" And I was blown away to find out that it was Thin Lizzy.
All of the Thin Lizzy albums sound different, and while each of them have some elements of heavy metal, Thunder and Lightning is a 100% metal album. Granted, it may not be the heaviest, and given that this was put out in the mid 80's, there were heavier bands like Slayer, Metallica, and Anthrax really pushing the envelope. But if you're like me, and you love Maiden, Priest, and even the Scorpions, then Thunder and Lightning is going to please you immensely.
Joining the ever changing second guitar position, we get John Sykes, who I would think brought the metal influences to the forefront. Indeed, there are some ripping solos, and John's NWOBHM guitar harmonies mesh perfectly with the the patented Thin Lizzy dual guitar attack. Scott Gorham is no slouch either, and his more traditional playing bridges the gap between older Lizzy and this.
The title track kicks you in the face immidiately with a speedy tempo, and heavy riffing. "This is the One" is a bit more catchy, but still heavy. "The Holy War" is the most radio friendly song on here, and most traditional, but with some very upfront guitar work. "Someday She's Going to Hit Back" and "Baby Please Don't Go" are up-tempo rockers with lovely harmonies, and minor key tendencies. Thin Lizzy always had a bit of darkness about them...perhaps it was Phil Lynott's heroin problems. Even on a more upbeat song, "Bad Habits," where Phil almost recalls the more merry sounding moments of Jailbreak, there's a heavy breakdown and searing solos. It's also the lowpoint of the album, and not much of one at that. The album closer "Heart Attack" has awesome dualing guitars that switch off into blazing solos in the middle. Fuck, this is total NWOBHM, just from Ireland.
"Cold Sweat" and "The Sun Goes Down" are the two best songs on here, and they just kick major ass. "Cold Sweat" is heavy, driving, and mean. No wonder Sodom covered this! It makes me want to punch Snookie in the face! "The Sun Goes Down" is perhaps the best slow song ever on a metal album. It's super dark, very moody, and John Sykes' solo is just phenomenal. Sure, the Scorps wrote great ballads, but nothing ominous and beautiful as this. It's like watching the sun set over the ocean after a massive thunder storm. Fucking beautiful!
There's one problem with this album: the goddamn keyboards! Seriously, those things sound so out of place! Not even the Cars had a goofier sound, and they were trying to be quirky. Remember that poofy haired keyboardist from This Is Spinal Tap? I can imagine him playing on here. Only on "The Sun Goes Down" does it actually work. The synth solo in the title track is simply beyond reproach...horrible. But in a curiously fascinating way.
Another complaint is that the levels on the CD are pretty low. This thing does not rip your face off unless you crank the volume, which is a damn shame. A remaster would do this masterpiece wonders, and sadly it's the only album in the Thin Lizzy discography that hasn't gotten the remaster treatment.
All of Thin Lizzy's discography is worthy of a listen, but this is their heaviest. You can't classify this as anything but heavy metal. It's also their most consistent; there are no forays into experimental funky beats, or jolly songs. And for that it's an excellent album.