Street Lethal review by Racer X

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  • Released: Jan 1, 1986
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.3 Good
  • Users' score: 9 (2 votes)
Racer X: Street Lethal

Sound — 8
Fast and damned furious is the only truthful way to sum up the sound, and what more would you expect from an album which has Paul Gilbert's name on the front? If Yngwie Malmsteen had been in Motley Crue when they recorded the Shout at the Devil album, this is what it would sound like. In other words, it's got that 80's hair metal sound, but it's blended with some of Paul Gilbert's most insane shredding. Depending on your viewpoint, this is either a recipe for Sheer Rocking Excellence of the Highest Order...or an annoying random collection of notes. Thankfully, there are some sincere works of genius on this album, and anyone who likes their rock at 200mph will undoubtedly appreciate this album. However, it's not everyone's pint of ale, and if mindless shredding tends to piss on your shoes, then you might want to think very carefully before considering this.

Lyrics — 6
I can't really defend the lyrics here. They're by no means deep and profound works of poetry. But they fit in with the fast, crazy music, and are pretty cool to have blasted out loud on the car stereo. The vocals are fine, though if anything, perhaps a little weak in comparison to the aggression of the other instruments. I personally don't give much of a damn about lyrics, and if I only spoke a little English, the lyrics wouldn't have any meaning, no matter how profound they were. And Racer X had (and probably still have) a large Japanese fanbase. So as far as lyrics are concerned, it's more the delivery I'm judging here, rather than the meaning. (For what is meaning? there's a philosophical question...)

Overall Impression — 8
This album is different to many of the other hard rock/glam metal albums of it's day, in that it was faster, more technical and more aggressive, but it was not as bleak or angry as the up and coming extreme metal genres that were doing well for themselves. I think it's great for anyone who appreciates metal as it used to be, and it will appeal to fans of many different metal artists, from (early) Metallica to Van Halen. If you like Nitro, then you will definitely like this, unless you've got something against Paul Gilbert (which is hard to imagine, he seems to be one of the coolest guys in rock). 01. Frenzy: this is an instrumental, and it's tempting to think Gilbert heard Van Halen's "Eruption" and thought he could do something similar. Although technically brilliant, it just can't compare to Eddie's masterpiece, and it's not particularly great to listen to. Not a good start to the album, if I'm honest. 02. Street Lethal: certainly one of the better songs on the album, and it's fast and classic Paul Gilbert. It is a bloody great song that makes you want to get up and drive really fast til you find the Land of Eternal Rock N' Roll. Even if that takes years of fruitless searching in Godforsaken countryside. 03. Into the Night: again, fast and excellent. Some insane soloing and riffs so powerful you head cannot stay on it's shoulders. Jeff Martins' vocals are so high pitched they will probably kill all bats within a radius of six miles if you stick this on at full blast. 04. Blowin' Up The Radio: fast, and agressive, but not the best song on the album in any shape or form. If there's an album filler on here, this is it. 05. Hotter Than Fire: a damned cool track that shows off the whole range of talent within the band. One of those surprisingly rare songs that guitarists, vocalists, bassists and drummers can all agree on. 06. On The Loose: masterful rocking yet again, but this isn't the best track on the album, and it doesn't particularly stand out compared to the others. It kinda fits in the background, but it's not a disappointment by any means. 07. Loud and Clear: again, another very fast track that sums up all that 80's glam metal represented. It's nothing special, but it rocks harder than most of the crap that's released today. 08. Y.R.O: stands for Yngwie Rip Off, and that's possibly the most self-explanatory title of all time. It's basically Paul Gilbert pretending to be Yngwie Malmsteen. Fans of the harmonic minor scale are in for a treat, as is anyone who appreciates neoclassical shred metal for the technical abilty it shows off. Having said that, it's not getting played at my funeral. 09. Dangerous Love: I'd say this was the best track on the album. Technically brilliant, and it's definitely one you can rock out to in the shower, or wherever your imaginary arena exists. Nice, catchy chorus, devastatingly pacy riffing, and all in all a great song for the more experienced headbanger. 10. Getaway: another good song to rock out to, although it's nothing too special. Perhaps it's one too many fast paced songs, although if you listen to it on its own, it's not bad at all. 11. Rock It: this is strange mixture of 1950's sounding rock n roll and the some of the finest rock the 80's had to offer. It's not a particularly great song, but it's quite an uplifting track with some noice shredding in the middle. It's certainly different to the rest of the album, but not the world's greatest ending track. Overall, I'd recommend this album if there's space in your music collection for an insane frenzy of sincerely fast 1980's rock n' roll. I wouldn't rush out to buy it if I wasn't a fan of any of the bands I've mentioned elsewhere in this review, but if you want something to improve your air guitar/bass/drum skills no end, then look no further than Racer X for an all-round work of technical excellence and genuine rocking ability.

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