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Raging Steel
(Displeased Records)

There was a time when the difference between the American Thrash and the German Thrash was... well, that I liked a lot more the German Thrash! It was more primitive, aggressive and in your face. Whereas most bands in America at some point wanted to show they were musicians, the Germans were happy producing aggressive music. DEATHROW was one of the bands from let's say, the second wave of Thrash in Teutonic lands. This second album, after a controversial label start (basically for the title of the album in the USA that changed from "Satan's Gift" to "Riders Of Doom"), created a good expectation for this release. Whereas their debut album was compared to SLAYER and to some point to KREATOR, the band was clever enough to drift away a bit from sounding like a mere copy. As the rule in the late 80s, they have a quite simple logo, and a painted cover, with an epic-war was looking style, albeit fitting the band's lyrical content. DEATHROW's lyrics on this album were more fantasy-based upon a land in war where demons and dragons besides swords and blood, were everywhere. Completing the picture was the ferocious Thrash Metal attack of this German quartet. A heavy, thick production courtesy of Harris Johns, makes this one lost jewel, and a serious contender for one of the best German Thrash Metal albums. Vocalist Milo is maybe a hard card to get completely into his style; whereas he is obviously a less growler that similar bands like KREATOR or SODOM, he is neither a vocalist. I have always thought of his style as quite similar to that of Don Doty of DARK ANGEL, although with his obvious personal tone. He is wise enough to add some really deadly screams here and there, and a few more melodic parts in some other songs like in 'Beyond The Light'. The band plays mostly fast, but has some more mid-tempo songs that showcased a very heavy approach like on 'Dragon's Blood'. Something to notice is the weird, yet effective drumming style of Markus Hahn. Both guitar players have obviously improved a lot in their performance compared to the more sloppy debut album, and this time, I can feel more some sounds comparable to METALLICA and early ANTHRAX in a couple of songs, yet still played at a ferocious speed. Highlights of this album are many, as there is really no filler, with killer cuts like the opener and which gives title to the album or the more complex 'Scattered By The Wind' or the fantastic thrasher of 'Mortal Dread'. Up to this day I do not know if it was done intentional, but the album starts with no mercy, with the songs slowly giving some rest, to again end in a very energetic form (yet not as fast, but energetic) with one of the best Thrash Metal instrumental songs in 'The Undead Cry'. I can say now, that DEATHROW has an identity of their own in just their second album, which makes it hard to compare to other bands. In spite of what I was listening in this album, I must say I was anxiously waiting for their third long play. I always thought DEATHROW was the one band that will be along the other 'three' big ones from German lands. Yet, the development and style shown on their next effort "Deception Ignored" was a big let down for fans like me of this jewel. A case of a German band that took more out of the American influence and failed. This new edition finally comes with all the lyrics (which are missing in the vinyl and tape editions) besides 4 extra tracks from their demo "Eternal Death" (when they were called SAMHAIN), the sound has been re.mastered for optimal audio pleasure, and it also contains the photo collage (which was quite common back in the days due to the vinyl size sleeves) and the full demo and album thanks lists. Now that it is quite hard to get this release in this original format, we all have a second chance to grab this great album in a great edition. As I said before, this is easily one of the best German Thrash Metal albums (yeah, in my view even better, more balanced and focused than many other German jewels) but by fate, it was destined to a rather obscure place. What happened later, I cannot comprehend, yet this legacy of Metal and steel is here as a mark of blood into eternity...

Julián Núńez

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