Fire Down Under

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Unquestionably the best offering from New York's Riot, Fire Down Under is considered by many to be an early-'80s metal classic. After two marginally successful LPs, 1977's Rock City and 1979's Narita, bandleader Mark Reale worked out all the kinks in Riot's membership and musical delivery, and the results are dramatic. The songs are tight and memorable, the guitars are flashy, and the production is aggressive and slick on this 1981 collection. The group's best and most recognizable tune, "Swords & Tequila," kicks off Fire Down Under with an astonishing power surge. Other standouts include the fast-paced title track, "Outlaw," and "Don't Bring Me Down." The intensity then lets up as some bland numbers dampen the second half of Fire Down Under. But despite a few lesser cuts, this effort qualifies as one of the top metal discs of 1981, and the only Riot recording that competes with mainstays from the likes of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and (early) Def Leppard.

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