Riot - Fire Down Under (1981)Release ID: 2185

Riot - Fire Down Under (1981) Cover
Shezma Shezma / December 31, 2023 / Comments 0 / 0

I don't like this, and I'm having a hard time explaining why This has a very sing-a-long vibe to me with this album. Swords and Tequila has a catchy chorus, but I don't find wanting to listen to it again. Outlaw is the stand out especially after listening again because it has some killer underlying rhythm guitar and solo at the end but there's too much extra noise going on that takes away from the really interesting and fun riffs. I don't feel like it knows what it wants to be. The guitars and drums are a bit too heavy for the pop vibes it gives off. Like a Van Halen trying to be metal which feels disjointed. Don't Bring Me Down is where I really got a heavy Van Halen, and then on Don't Hold Back I get an odd Jerry Was A Race Car Driver by Primus sound. Please tell me it's not just me, but I just can't this album more serious because I keep hearing derivatives too other things in a more "metal" package. Don't Hold Back reminds me of Ace of Spades structurally? Run For Your Life is like a Run To The Hills demo . Every one of these songs just makes me hear something else and I just can't get into them.  Also what is Flashbacks, an unnecessary flash back snippets of their tour? It's like a bad advertisement to come see their show which doesn't work for me. Maybe if I actually came to a show and felt a bit nostalgic but this is just extra fluff. 

All of this is to say that maybe if I heard this first in the 80's on release I could like it more but I feel like my music memory really kills any listening enjoyment of this album. I don't feel like this is a bad album by any means, but I can't give it more than 2 stars because this is a really tough listen for me since I'm constantly just hearing other songs in a less enjoyable manner. 

Shadowdoom9 (Andi) Shadowdoom9 (Andi) / October 27, 2023 / Comments 0 / 0

Until this month, I've never realized how kick-A 70/early 80s metal can be. I know that there are people around here with more metal knowledge who might correct me, but I'm saying this without fear of contradiction; Riot is the first American true heavy metal band to still be popular today, and they've had some metal right from the start. However, Fire Down Under is the album that really baby-sealed their metal sound!

Yeah, my metal history is slightly mixed up, maybe because I'm so young like in my mid-20s, but I know where some bands get their speed from. Speed was a new and fresh idea in the early 1980s, with some metal albums paving the way for other bands kickstarting speed/thrash metal in its full form. Fire Down Under is one of those albums.

First track "Swords and Tequila" is the album's classic heavy metal at its f***ing peak! They know how to pull off a bit of humor while keeping their metal serious. I'm talking about absolutely blazing metal! You can hear Guy Speranza singing about a knight charging into battle after swigging a certain Mexican alcoholic drink, though the band's later vocalist would have greater range. The speed is what bands like Venom and early Running Wild would pick up for their own speed metal styles in the mid-80s. There's glorious fun in the dive-bombing solo by Mark Reale that might remind some of the soloing in Manowar's songs. Not only does the soloing sparkle but also the metal riff rhythm. It's just upsetting that both an amazing vocalist and a master-mindful guitarist are gone from this world. Once again, RIP... The title track is full-on early blazing speed metal. You can't get more electrifying than that in the first couple years of the 80s. However, the band would take a slower turn right after that... "Feel the Same" has more mood and less speed, but I guess it's fair after that massive one-two punch.

"Outlaw" has more Thin Lizzy-esque hard rock, but the guitars really punch through. That's the kind of hard rock that wasn't usually heard in America at that time, but it could shine in the 80s as much as it did in the 70s. The organic sound and production deserves my respect! "Don't Bring Me Down" once again kicks up the pace, with Speranza singing comedic lyrics smack-talking his ex-girlfriend, "You call me a wimp, you say I'm a chump? Well your face is bent, and you smell like gorilla dump". A bit of silly fun without sounding out of place in the seriousness. "Don't Hold Back" really kicks up the speed, though the irony is, the verses and heavy rhythm seem to be held back. It still turns out well with a gang-shouted chorus. Next track "Altar of the King" is my favorite here. The riffing is absolutely memorable, and there are well-crafted leads. None of the songs in the album reach the 5-minute mark, yet that highlight makes things seem pleasantly long and worth it.

"No Lies" can actually be an excellent example of early slower power metal. "Run For Your Life" is also good, but what bugs me is, they used the same song title for an entirely f***ing different song in Thundersteel. "Flashbacks" is, just like the previous album's title track, a 4-minute instrumental. It's quite weird hearing audio samples of concerts and interviews over a screeching guitar solo. But then it fades out a cool song is starting to play. A bit anticlimactic, but a good sign that the band would continue.

I won't keep track of the bonus tracks, but I'll say Fire Down Under is the most famous album of the Guy Speranza era. Other bands boosting up classic heavy metal outside the UK back then include Germany's Accept and Denmark's Mercyful Fate. I still can't believe Speranza is gone from the band and this world. Carry on through the fight!

Favorites: "Swords and Tequila", "Fire Down Under", "Outlaw", "Altar of the King", "No Lies"

UnhinderedbyTalent UnhinderedbyTalent / March 25, 2020 / Comments 0 / 0

Riot are a band that have always been in my sphere of awareness but somehow have never made it on my radar to delve into their extensive catalogue.  Their 1981 effort offers high energy rock music with a NWOBHM pace applied for good measure.  Opening strongly with my new favourite quarantine anthem of Swords and Tequila  this rapid pace continues well into the title track Fire Down Under  with its blistering lead work and relentless stomp carrying forward well the opening momentum of the record.

All elements of the group work really well together and the tracks feel tight and competently written.  Reale and Ventura's guitar work is of particular note, built on catchy riffs and bluesy melodies, their chops really expand the listening experience well.  They are superbly supported by the assuring rumble of Leming's bass that is audible yet not distracting in the mix.  It is Speranza's vocals that underpin everything really nicely though.  Gritty and gruff throughout his style compliments and showcases the bands energy levels, settling in nicely in the mix and providing a memorable yet never over the top or showy performance.  The drums of Slavin also feel perfectly stationed in the mix providing power where needed yet also still being subtle enough to not become overbearing.

For album number three, there's a solid amount of maturity on display here and the whole release shines with a level of consistency.  There's an element of Aerosmith style rock to some of the tracks, particularly when referencing the more bluesy elements of the guitar work.  It is hard to get too excited over it though, consistent though it is the flip side of this is a lack of variety.  It is playbook easy listening metal/hard rock music that maintains its energy levels well but does become a bit of a stretch considering there are ten tracks on the album.  It would certainly have benefited from a trim even though it clocks in at just under forty minutes.

Tymell Tymell / November 25, 2019 / Comments 0 / 0

Fire Down Under is a good time. A damn good time. And Riot will leave you with little choice but to join in on those good times.

There's such a crazy sense of wild, unabashed fun here, the band sounds like they're absolutely having the time of their lives making this, and that's infectious as all hell. Just listen to the whooping in "Run For Your Life", or the disgustingly catchy fret dancing on the title track. The whole album has the feel of a heavy metal version of a party in a rowdy tavern: lively and vibrant, with just the right dose of rough and ready punch.

The first four tracks in particular are totally irresistible: "Swords and Tequila" in its driving chorus, "Fire Down Under" in its breakneck riffing, "Feel the Same" in that smooth, sexy rhythm and sway, and "Outlaw" in just how damn catchy it is. Every one of them works in its own way, and will leave anyone hooked.

If there's any downside, it's that this does leave the album as a whole a bit front-loaded. The rest of the material here is perfectly good, but the best songs are undoubtedly early on.

Riot don't necessarily do anything particularly inventive or ground-breaking here, but they don't need to, because they do what they set out to with such panache. They take the wonder of Rainbow, mix it with the working class hard rocking of Saxon, and give us something brimming with real passion and energy, and well worth a look for any classic metal fans.

Choice cuts: Fire Down Under, Swords & Tequila, Outlaw, Run For Your Life, Feel the Same