Sound — 10
In 1977, heavy metal greats Riot debuted with the album "Rock City." The band was driven by vocalist Guy Speranza (1956-2003) and guitarist/founding member Mark Reale (1955-2012). The band released two more albums with the original lineup 1979's "Narita" and the band's classic album 1981's "Fire Down Under." "Fire Down Under" is where the band really came together and all the pieces fell into the right places. The album is easily a classic heavy metal '80s record and the songs prove it. Being the last with singer Guy Speranza it's definitely his best studio work with the band. Speranza had an amazing range and voice. His vocals are like that of Steven Tyler and Robert Plant where no matter what no one could be compared to him. This album is heavier than their first two and with that the band was dropped by Capitol Records before the album's release. Capitol had dropped the band after a tour with Sammy Hagar because they felt that Riot's demos were too heavy for the commercial mainstream US fans at the time. During this time Riot was in contact with legendary NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) DJ Neal Kay. Kay began playing Riot's songs during his weekly show making them a major act in UK along with Canada and Japan. As they climbed UK charts and played the first Monsters of Rock festival at Donington in 1980, Riot and the bands of the NWOBHM scene became a huge part of heavy metal. The sound of NWOBHM bands such as; Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, Saxon, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Angel Witch, and many more are a huge part of this album. Riot's first two albums sounded more like a heavier version of KISS, whereas this features powerhouse riffs, a crashing rhythm section, and high ranged-in your face vocals. The production is what it sounds like I have said above it's an album from an American late '70s metal band with '80s UK metal style songs, lyrics, and sound. It's a loud, mean, and aggressive album.
Lyrics — 10
The song "Flashbacks" in my opinion is the only song that's lyrically different than the rest of the album. This being it's a song written in honor of what Kay was, at that time, for Riot and the NWOBHM movement in England. With songs like the most known ones from the album "Swords & Tequila" and "Outlaw" you get a true American bada-s rock 'n' roll attitude. The album's lyric are to the point with subjects about drinking and being outlaw in society. Guy's vocals help bring the power in the lyrics and music out. Singing from the heart he delivers on every song. His best vocal, in my opinion, on this album is the title track.
Overall Impression — 10
When you think of the hard rock/heavy metal scene in 1981 it was the same as the start of it a decade earlier. Just like the early '70s where it was British bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Judas Priest being the top bands in the US, and US hard rock/heavy metal just taking off. Riot was able to create an album that was able to go perfectly with albums from Iron Maiden, Whitesnake, Ozzy, Saxon, Diamond Head, Motorhead, and the rest of the NWOBHM albums released. What I love about this album is that it's an band the can make a album like this when heavy metal in the US was almost dead and just starting to break in the heavy metal world. It's something I definitely would buy again this album should be in your collection until you die. An American Heavy Metal Masterpiece. RIP Mark Reale.