Knowing what I know about the band's future output makes it a little difficult to take an objective look backwards. 1989's Deception Ignored is a masterpiece of technical German thrash, an album of bewildering depth and complexity which few have ever matched. Before that point, Deathrow were a pretty average German speed/thrash metal band with dirtier vocals sounding like a sped-up Thomas G Warrior of Celtic Frost.
Raging Steel is their sophomore album and it was a slight cut above the average level of depth you'd find in this style. Let's say it's a little riffier than Iron Angel or Sodom, but at a similar level of aggression. This album was actually my first exposure to the band, having heard "Dragon's Blood" on the local college radio metal show and then tracking the album down (this was how I discovered a great deal of local and international bands back then). That track remains a favorite on the album for me, with its mystical fantasy lyrics. It's not alone though, there are some decent and raging tracks on the album, and if you listen deeply enough you actually can hear a little of what would go into their more technical approach later, only encased in a thicker, more violent skin. "Raging Steel" is a flurry of precision, lightning fast riffs blur, breaking for some guitar melodies. "Scattered by the Wind" has a great grinding and grooving opening thrash riff before the verse takes off at high speed. "Mortal Dread" has some cool, slower riffs which lend a doomy atmosphere. "The Undead Cry" begins with a nice bass line and then becomes another of the album's best tracks.
The mix of the album sounds chunky but reasonable if you're a fan of the older German records like Vendetta's Go and Live, Stay and Die or Kreator's Terrible Certainty. The lyrics are decent and the vocals also, though they don't reach that creepy and anaesthetic feeling that they do on Deception Ignored. Listening through it again after some time, it's not such a bad record. Certainly the roots of their explosive talent can be traced to this, but when you compare it to Deception Ignored it's much like comparing a neanderthal tribe to Babylon. I was honestly quite shocked to read that the band actually prefers this earlier material. Perhaps what they came up with was so good that it intimidated even them. Well, there is no accounting for taste...
Verdict: Win [7.5/10] (in the arena of gods)