4 out of 5 Stars!
Although Riot endured many line-up changes throughout the decades, the New York band’s overall sound or quality level never changed too drastically over the course of fifteen studio albums, and each Riot release offered up some decent Heavy Metal with (generally) a European flavor. Several of the band’s platters seemed well above average, however, with ThunderSteel, the group’s sixth, being one of my favorites.
With a highly capable new vocalist wielding the microphone, Riot returned after a five-year absence with the excellent ThunderSteel, a driving and high-energy option for those Judas Priest fans seeking music in a similar realm. Indeed, Tony Moore’s wide vocal range and aggressive style of delivery often reminded me of Rob Halford, and the band’s galloping rhythms and thundering drums (partially provided by Mark Edwards and—later—Bobby Jarzombek), Don Van Stavern’s crunchy bass, and Mark Reale’s shredding guitars on cuts like the title track, “Flight of the Warrior,” “Fight or Fall,” “On Wings of Eagles,” and the epic closer “Buried Alive (Tell Tale Heart)” easily catapulted Riot into the same top-quality territory as groups such as the aforementioned Judas Priest, along with Iron Maiden, Metal Church, and Accept.
The well-written material is often speedy and thrashy, yet melodic and blazing—all in all, the hard-hitting ThunderSteel, with its more-than-appropriate name, is a near masterpiece of the Heavy Metal/Power Metal genre.