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Thunderstick is an odd little outfit formed by the eponymous drummer during his time with the then-declining Samson, who had largely failed to recover after the departure of celebrated vocalist Bruce Dickinson to join NWOBHM titans Iron Maiden. It seems the skyrocketing fame of Girlschool, a great upbeat, if simplistic heavy metal outfit to grow out of the NWOBHM movement, had inspired a subgenre of wannabe Girlschool melodic, commercially driven power-pop hard rock bands by the mid 80’s. One of these acts was Thunderstick, who alongside Runestaff and Rock Goddess and other lesser known acts, brought female-fronted NWOBHM to the masses. On their first EP, Thunderstick declared themselves firmly in commercial waters, with a flat, poppy (and admittedly quite lame) collection of songs suitable for any mainstream rock fans; there was very little metal in the music, and certainly no ‘dark’ feel. Things had turned around a wee bit for the act though, by the time of this offering, they sound heavier, a pinch more aggressive, more metal, and ever so slightly less like popstar wannabes. Surprisingly better album this time round, which I didn’t have high hopes for after the EP.
Don’t get me wrong though, commercial pop rock flavour is still found. The opener, for example is almost Joan Jett meets Pat Benatar or something; it’s poppy, with little balls, and sort of background music; not grabbing your attention too much. The later section of the song feels heavy though, a darker vibe is found in the guitar break, before the 60’s pop style verses kick back in; it sounds like The Supremesor something. Tracks like ‘Afraid of the Dark’ try to feel a bit tougher, but still have a commercial hard rock tone; the chorus – with it’s smooth backup choir underneath Valentine’s almost Wendy O-ish snarling delivery. This is upbeat music; commercially acceptable, without any dazzling axe mastery, or real heavy metal subject matter, but in tracks like ‘Afraid of the Dark’ are quite fun in that catchy, old school rock kinda way. ‘Another Turnaround’ is a soothing, somewhat melancholic ballad; again very poppy sounding, and not really too standout.
Though this band couldn’t hold a candle to the power of Satanic Rites, and isn’t as quirky and interesting as Runestaff, or ballsy and productive as Girlschool it’s listenable, chilled out, soft stuff, that is at least an improvement on the EP. Seems a fraction heavier, with better written songs that display a bit more depth in songwriting. It’s actually pretty much on par with Rock Goddess; who are also listenable, yet largely flat and uninteresting. This isn’t exactly something I’d recommend, unless you’re really into the female fronted stuff. I’ve heard some amateurish and worse NWOBHM, and this isn’t as bad as say Bollweevil, but it’s a wee bit soft and bland for my tastes; it just doesn’t excite the listener, and it’s perhaps trying a little too hard for that commercial sound. Get Satanic Rites instead.