Review Summary: More aware than its predecessor, but still not what fans are entitled to demand.
After what can be seen as one of Riot's very few missteps, Through the Storm
doesn't do much to make the less enthusiast listeners of DiMeo's Riot less skeptic. However, it does show the band tiding the ship with more conviction. Make no mistake, this is not a return to past glories. But, it is at least a return around the former standards set in the past releases after The Privilege of Power
. This album goes further down the road that progressively made Riot's heavy/power metal closer to AOR-like shores, with the difference of finally sounding aware of the transition.
While the vocals often dip into anthemic and sugary choruses, they don't sound too unnerving and overall there is a pleasant gradation in the songs' ear-friendliness. The cover of UFO's "Only You Can Rock Me" will raise more than one eyebrow, but not everything is like that. "Chains (Revolving)" is a groovy metal number equally fueled by soaring vocals and tight guitar work. "Lost Inside This World" makes the best of all worlds by laying down a gritty heavy metal backbone that builds to an infectious chorus featuring an excellent use of backing vocals, another proof that Mike DiMeo can sound really good if used right. The big ballad "Let It Show", as cliché as it sounds with its anthemic chorus and symphonic background, doesn't sound out of place. There is even the time for a couple instrumentals, a thing where guitarist Mark Reale always shined. The very melodious "Isle of Shadows" may remind a bit too much of 1998's "Inishmore", but he still does.
Following the trend of this Riot era, Through the Storm
can be seen as Nightbreaker
Part 5. That said, it's definitely not the weakest in the 'series'. By embracing its more dare I say commercial side, it comes off as a coherent body of work, enjoyable from beginning to end even in its lack of ambition. Furthermore, this album can count on having the arguably stronger production values of the lot, something that should not be underestimated when talking about a group of albums that sound so similar. Missing any kind of underlying concept, it may not sound as cohesive as albums like Inishmore
or The Brethren of the Long House
, but Through the Storm
still stands as a respectable release. May it be a vocal hook, a guitar solo, or even a symphonic touch; this is not an album that can be called poor. Yet, it's hard not to think of the band's past glory after reading the Riot name on the cover artwork.