Review Summary: Exactly what you weren't hoping to hear.
The departure of a singer cannot be taken lightly by the rest of the band. Yet, Riot managed to publish Restless Breed
in 1982, just a year after the release of Fire Down Under
. Taking Guy Speranza's role and therefore starting Riot's second era is Rhett Forrester, who ends up being the undoubted protagonist of Riot's fourth full length thanks to his particular style. Backing him up are the same musicians found in Fire Down Under
, but is it right to expect another release of the same caliber? Whatever the answer, the results are unexpected.
Even though Restless Breed
appears to follow its predecessor's basic structure quite closely, with a rocking opener and following with a heavy rotation of slower and faster tracks, the music itself has a different taste. It's in fact clear since Forrester's first appearance in the opener "Hard Lovin' Man" that this record has a bigger glam attitude than any other Riot release. The problem is that the band seems to be playing safer, going through the motions of a harmless hard rock that lacks what made Riot special, namely intensity in playing, a strong vocal attitude and, to an extent, variety of content. The tracks often tend to feel samey and longer than what they are (the record itself ends in under 40 minutes, mind that) thanks to a feeling of repetition due to the lack of almost anything to shake up the simple song structures.
It's a pity that what makes these flaws more grave is Forrester himself, because his delivery fluctuates a bit too much. He knows how to deliver a catchy and somehow emotional line, but his habit of trying to sound more tough and his woahs, heys, and yeahs can be annoying. Everything is present in the (arguably) humorous "C.I.A." With doubtful lyrics, catchy hooks, at times hilarious 'Forrester moments' and an instrumentation that could offer more, the second track from Restless Breed
summarizes perfectly the overall feeling that a complete listen leaves on the listener.
Simply dismissing Restless Breed
could be a bold move, anyway. Its highlights are in fact quite a few. Forrester's hooks in the aforementioned "C.I.A." and his complete performance in "When I Was Young" (an Eric Burdon and The Animals cover) are well made. The guitars/harmonica duet in "Loved By You" is at least interesting (even though is followed by a hilarious 'Forrester moment'), and the combination of a solid instrumentation with the singer's hooks make "Loanshark" a valid track. Finally, the punk sounding "Violent Crimes" has to paradoxically pay for being engaging. In fact, it ends the record in the worst way possible: it leaves the listener yearning for more of something that's been only slightly touched. Sadly, Restless Breed
should and could have been a significantly more polished release.