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Review: Riot - Fire Down Under
Fire Down Under

Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 1999
Originally released in: 1981
Duration: 43:41
Tracks: 12
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: November 28, 2010
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers Rating
Fire Down Under

Rated 4.26/5 (85.26%) (57 Votes)

So often, the formula went "release a killer debut, gain some success, go commercial and immediately start sucking." The list of U.S. bands that followed that pattern is endless. One band that managed to avoid the trap was New York's Riot. Formed way back in the pre-NWOBHM days of the late 70s, Riot, in their original incarnation, released a couple of classic Hard Rock albums in Rock City and Narita. Full of upbeat riffs and progressions, along with the typical late 70s subject matter (for the most part), each album merely flirted with metal. It wasn't until 1981's Fire Down Under that Riot realized their potential and released a killer METAL album.

From the opening chords of "Swords & Tequila," one of the finest 80s Heavy Metal songs ever, you know you are in for something different. Fire Down Under is heavier and more aggressive than either of its predecessors, as well as just about anything coming from any U.S. band at the time. Gone are much of the Hard Rock chord progressions, to be replaced by some downright mean riffs. The first four tracks are an onslaught of metallic music. From the frenetic opener, "Swords & Tequila," to the slow, brooding "Feel the Same," Riot has hit their songwriting stride. Original vocalist Guy Speranza's high-pitched, yet powerful delivery matches the mood of each song and guitarist Mark Reale lays down some of the blueprints for the modern Power Metal solo. There are hooks and riffs that will sound familiar to Iron Maiden fans throughout Fire Down Under. Honestly, if it weren't for Speranza, who just sounds "American" to me, Fire Down Under could easily be confused for an actual NWOBHM release. Break out the air guitar.

The album isn't a perfect metal album. There are still a few Hard Rock songs ("Don't Bring Me Down," "Misty Morning Rain" and "You're All I Needed Tonight") and the strange concert-collage "Flashbacks," that at four minutes is about four minutes too long, but these are easily overlooked. Especially considering the Hard Rock songs are really good Hard Rock songs. Fans of more modern metal may not find anything unique here but the NWOBHM aficionado needs to own this as does any fan of Heavy Metal. Highly Recommended.

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