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Metal Crypt

(Review from USA)


When a band is said to be like Manilla Road, Omen and Doomsword I sit up and take notice. The last time I took a shot like that was on Solemnity, so that didn't work out so good. But this time the Ol' metal detector led me straight on. Thunder Rider have apparently been around for a long-ass time, as Part 1 of "Tales Of Darkness And Light" was put out in frigging 1987. I think 17 years has to be some kind of record for time elapsed between debut and follow-up.

Now this is Epic Heavy Metal! Thunder Rider do have some rough similarities to Omen or Doomsword with their stripped-down riff style and anthemic songs. They play mostly slow or midpaced with a doomy edge, though the guitar sound is much more a bare bones Omen style than the sludgy heaviness one associates with Doom Metal. Vocalist John Blackwing has a voice highly reminiscent of Mike Scalzi of The Lord Weird Slough Feg, with a touch of Doomsword's Deathmaster. He uses a very theatrical, dramatic style and he carries it very well. There aren't any vocal histrionics going on here, and no operatic wailing, but all these songs are very catchy and beltable, making you want to sing along while you headbang like a retard. There are an astonishing 16 tracks on this thing, clocking in at over an hour, and the silly last track aside, this is an awesome disc. They kick off with the booming "Thy Kingdom Come" and never let up. Standouts here include the addictive "Death Angel", the stomping "Holy Terror", The sprawling "Heavy Metal Wizzard", "Evil Slayer" and "Dark Castle". All the songs in between are very cool too, so it's hard to really pick favorites. Every one has great riffs and singable vocal hooks. There are even three instrumentals included: "Final Eclipse", "Child's Prayer", and "Interlude In D-Minor" to break up the heavy attack, but they don't detract from the flow of the CD, but just add to the huge, epic feel of the album.

I have rarely seen such a lavish presentation for a CD, especially for a self-release. You get the hour-plus CD, a lavishly (if amateurishly) illustrated 24-page booklet, a sticker, a temporary tattoo, and a guitar pick. It's over-the-top, but you sure get your money's worth. Some of the artwork here has to be seen to be believed, as it mostly looks like Dungeons and Dragons artwork from the early 80's. They even included it all in 'widescreen' format for your computer so you can have Thunder Rider wallpaper. Refreshingly, this 'interactive' content does not prevent you from playing it on a CD-ROM drive.

For a band that I have never heard of, Thunder Rider sure know what they are doing, and they seem to be having a lot of fun doing it. Fans of 80's metal like Omen, Manilla Road, Medieval Steel and Warlord, or more modern proponents of the style like Doomsword, Battleroar, or Slough Feg will eat this up. It's cheesy, and the production could be punchier, but for doomy epic heavy fucking metal, Thunder Rider are going to be hard to beat.

Track listing:

Hell Ride Music

(Review from USA)

Right out of the gate I am able to tell if I'm going to be a fan of a band or not, and in this case I am totally taken by Thunder Rider. Warning!!! This is True Heavy Metal so if you lack the nads - stick to weaker fare!. Fans of Manilla Road, Brocas Helm, Ironsword, and other plodding, smashing barbarous HM will salivate and seize up over this. There is also a bit of 80's Iron Maiden in the sound too - keys and layered arrangements abound here, but they do not weaken the steel one iota unlike Maiden who never, (in this writers opinon), resloved the keyboard issues. 16 tracks, great packaging: every song has it's own peice of artwork; two beautiful instrumentals to remind you that these fellows have mastered more than the powerchord. A sticker, guitar pick, and a Thunder Rider Temporary Tattoo! I have nothing bad to say about this at all! 10/10

No Life ‘til Metal

(Review form USA)


Thunder Rider - Tales of Darkness and Light Chapter II(independent) 2004

1. Thy Kingdom Come" (4:41)
2. New Born" (3:13)
3. Death Angel" (3:01)
4. Final Eclipse" (2:24)
5. Mid Evil" (4:11)
6. Holy Terror" (3:22)
7. Lucky Devil" (3:42)
8. Child's Prayer" (3:25)
9. Satan's Wrath" (2:59)
10. Heavy Metal Wizzard" (7:36)
11. Evil Slayer" (4:48)
12. Interlude In D-Minor" (2:26)
13. Dark Castle" (4:40)
14. Day Of The Damned" (8:53)
15. Devil's Playground" (3:02)

After an almost two decade absence, Thunder Rider return with their sophomore release. As the name of the disc implies, this CD continues where "Tales of Darkness and Light" left off. The bands has a unique, epic, and classic metal sound that dabbles in doom metal quite a bit as well. To be quite honest, I put off reviewing this CD for a long time, not because I didn't like it, but because I liked it so much, yet wasn't exactly sure how to put it into words. Not since bands like Cirith Ungol, Warlord and early Fates Warning have I heard metal like this. I am absolutely floored. Perhaps to give a more modern comparison, these guys would probably do well sharing a stage with Jacob's Dream. Most songs have a mid-paced to slow, metal sound wwith crunchy guitars, tasty guitar licks, eerie keyboards and those classic metal vocals. The song writing is dynamic as well. While the tempo from song to song isn't that different, there is plenty going on to keep one interested throughout the entire CD. "Mid Evil" for instance starts off slow and doomy, sounding like something off of a St. Vitas album before kicking into a mid-paced, metal romp. However, right in the middle of the song, where you might expect a ripping guitar solo, there is a flute solo that actually works quite well with the doomy feel of the song. The epic "Day of the Damned" likewise starts off very slow and ominous with what sounds like a harpsichord and haunting female vocals before kicking up the intensity level a bit. This song is very dynamic and changes tempos several times throughout the song. I actually think this would have been the best song to end the album with. Instead the band chose one of the most upbeat songs on the album, "Devil's Playground". The short, acoustic "Final Eclipse" is a haunting piece of music that features a female vocalist. Album opener "Thy Kingdom Come" is one of the albums standout tracks as well, and starts the album off strong. The lyrics as well are interesting on this CD. Most of them are of an apocalyptic nature and seem to come from a Christian perspective, although I would not say they were overtly evangelistic in nature. In other words, I don't think anyone would accuse Thunder Rider of being "too preachy". One BIG improvement over the band's debut is the production, which is 100% better. Really the production problems were my only complaint about that disc. With that taken care of, this CD will see many, many spins in my CD player. Aside from a very nice full color booklet, the initial pressing of this CD came with a guitar pick, a sticker and a tattoo.