THUNDER RIDER – Tales Of Darkness & Light – Chapter II

THUNDER RIDER - Tales Of Darkness & Light - Chapter II


Thunder Rider Productions
Release date: August 19, 2004

Guitars: C
Bass: C+
Percussion: C+
Keyboards: B
Vocals: C
Lyrics: B+
Recording Quality: A-
Originality: A
Overall Rating: B-

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Thunder Rider is a band based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, a city famous for, among other things, its array of classic, majestically ornate churches. The kind of churches that are so meticulously crafted, with so many saintly figurines and trinkets and bellowing organs, and with dark, musty atmospheres that they effectively “spook” their visitors into conforming to the “old school” spiritual teachings, which focused primarily on the “fire and brimstone” aspect of religion. Thunder Rider does a helluva job of capturing this exact ambiance within their newest release, Tales of Darkness & Light – Chapter II.

As the title indicates, this Thunder Rider CD contains songs (15 of them) topically dealing with various facets of the power of evil and the supernatural – predominantly in a medieval “knights in armor” setting. Tales of Darkness & Light – Chapter II actually deals very little with the “Light” aspect of the good/evil conflict, rather the vast majority of songs convey the message that evil is abound, it’s morphing and developing, and these energies need to be reckoned with NOW because such forces will gain control if not kept in check. Thunder Rider, though committed to this grim concept throughout the album, throws in a few humorous curve balls in the mix (more so near the end of CD) to show their listening audience that they haven’t completely fallen off the deep end. The bonus track, #16, especially drives home the point that Thunder Rider wants the listening audience to realize that even amid all of the “Darkness” they’re still a bunch of “regular” guys playing Heavy Metal rock ‘n’ roll and loving it! – you’ll just have to check out the album and hear track #16 to better understand exactly what I’m talking about …

John Blackwing is the leader of Thunder Rider, contributing vocals, guitar work, the vast majority of the songwriting, and a keyboard passage or two. In sum, his style is unique at every turn. Musically, Thunder Rider delivers their brand of Metal in simplistic fashion. The drumbeats are basic, the bass guitar work is straightforward, and the guitar riffs, solos, and chord patterns are methodical and deliberate. Most of the songs come across in pace and sound in a similar fashion to old Kiss (e.g., “Love Gun”) and Spinal Tap (e.g., “Christmas With The Devil”). With many bands focusing these days on incessant double-bass drum play and blistering guitar work, Thunder Rider’s unhurried musical style definitely has an “original” (if not welcomed) feel to it.

The only thing more unique about Thunder Rider than their deliberate musical style is Blackwing’s vocal style. He sings with strong nasal overtones, and as if he never moves his lips, however, his annunciation of each lyric is superb, making him very easy to understand. Blackwing’s singing style adds a ghoulish/evil flair to Thunder Rider’s music … it takes a little while to get used to Blackwing until you realize his vocal style is indeed the main impetus behind what sells the eerie atmosphere of each song.

The sound engineering provided by the professors and students of Musitechnic is generally excellent, focusing especially on the bass overtones of each instrument, as was prevalent with early Black Sabbath. The only production shortfall is with the snare drum sound, which is somewhat hollow and lacks the force present in the other instruments. The bass drum, however, definitely moves some air when this CD is played at high volumes.

Except for a small handful of tracks, each song on Tales of Darkness & Light – Chapter II is under 4 minutes long – Thunder Rider basically hits stride quickly on each song and gets the hell out of them before they get stale, which again is a welcomed decision that’s not always prevalent in today’s Metal. Other than the bonus track discussed above, the CD contains 12 conventional songs and 3 instrumentals. The instrumentals are particularly cool and do a great job of adding further musical originality to this album, along with atmospheric uncertainty and transition. The 12 conventional songs are generally solid songs (although the band is guilty of including some musical wadding in some of the longer tracks), highlighted by “Satan’s Wrath,” “New Born,” “Death Angel,” “Mid Evil,” and “Dark Castle.” “Satan’s Wrath” represents a break stylistically from the other tracks – its pace is fast and the music is more complex than anything else on the album … it’s also the best song from start to finish.

In sum, Metal fans of doom and gloom/supernatural evil should particularly enjoy Thunder Rider’s efforts, as will fans of a more simplistic, less frenetic approach to Metal music. The only drawback some may find in Tales of Darkness & Light – Chapter II (which could also be a selling point if his style hits home) may be Blackwing’s vocal style – and there are plenty of vocals in each conventional song to endure should you find it’s not your cup of tea. Overall, though, Metal fans owe it to themselves to at least give this band a listen to make this decision – you might end up being a Lucky Devil and find that you have stumbled across something truly special and unique.


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.