Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Vinyl Feature: Riot's Thundersteel

Ah, the 1980s; one of the greatest times for metal music and the era in which many of the classic bands emerged. Known as New York's hidden gem today, Riot took the decade by storm, despite releasing their first two records in 1977 and 1979, and made the most of their early years as a band. A classic, their opus, Fire Down Under, dropped in 1981, but Riot agreed a hiatus was in order only three years later, thanks to lack of a commercial breakthrough.

In 1988, the unthinkable happened--Riot burst back on the scene, revitalized and renewed. While their sound changed drastically, branching off into speed and power metal territory, the quality was very much the same, and the spirit matched anything found on their previous five records. Indeed, their then latest effort, Thundersteel, stampeded with double bass and tempos far quicker than their other albums, and stood as an unexpected addition to their discography.

Housed in a colorful jacket displaying 1980s cheesiness in all its glory, Thundersteel is like any other vinyl release from the decade: the record is thinner than most 1970s vinyl, to the point that one can easily bend and shape it into nearly any form (I'm exaggerating)--malleable is a better word for it. Thankfully, the music still sounds wonderful, and even though my personal copy is well loved and occupied by dust, I love it all the same.

Aside from the music, what I like most about the record is the art. As I mentioned above, it's absolutely cheesy and cringe-worthy today, but for the time, it was perfect, because an enlarged jacket gave the over-the-top details a chance to shine. CBS did a fantastic job blowing up the art for final production, and the war-torn environment, depicting a half tank, half robot man and a green-bullet goddess, is as good as the 1980s gets.

And while the vinyl itself is standard fare, the blue center is a nice touch. To be honest, this isn't a record that I'm worried about aesthetically, though. The music is the primary attraction here--even with the artwork--and, above all, the first of the many reasons I love Riot.

That's all, folks. This is, hands down, one of the best metal records ever.



  1. I'm ashamed to admit that I had never heard Riot until their last album, Immortal Soul, came out. Such an underrated (and undermentioned) band! Tony Moore is one of the best metal vocalists around, IMHO.

    How do you feel about them continuing on without Mark? Personally, I'm ok with it provided the songs are there. From what I understand, Mark's input on Immortal Soul was limited, and I thought that album was incredible. Will definitely miss Tony on vocals though.

    Hey, are you on Spotify by any chance?

    1. Immortal Soul is a wonderful record, and one of my favorites from 2011. I actually have it on vinyl, too, but it doesn't sound great.

      Anyway, without Mark, Riot needs to change their name because Mark was Riot, in my opinion. The band was like his baby, and he nurtured it through the bad times. He also enjoyed it during the good times. point being that he was always there.

      I've also read that his input on Immortal Soul was minimal, and I was okay with that because Immortal Soul basically sounded like a modern version of Thundersteel. I know being okay with that is contradictory to what I wrote above, but Mark isn't alive anymore, so I feel a name change is order, unless Mark specifically asked that they go on.

      I do have Spotify, and I'll post back with my information tomorrow. It tends to crash on my Mac, so I'll need to reinstall it before I pass anything off to you.

    2. Interestingly enough, they seem to be going by "Riot V" now.

  2. I'll have to admit I don't know Riot's music, either. But you sold me - along with the artwork. Reminds me of a childhood favorite - anyone remember The Eliminators? ( Gonna rifle through the "R"s closely on my next trip to the record shop.

    1. The Eliminators is a bit before my time, unfortunately. But then again, many of the things I enjoy are. In any case, you'll have to let me know what you think of Thundersteel or any Riot, for that matter.

      @Eric: My Spotify username is "themetaladvisor."