Review Summary: What’s it gonna take to make you RIOT?
Riot belong to that relatively small private club of '80s metal bands that have managed to persist through time with attitude. As they were founded at the dusk of the '70s by guitarist and '80s metal icon (ask Motley Crue and Metallica next time you see them, they might know something about it…) Mark Reale, Riot count 35 years of prolific contribution in pretty much three styles within the rock/metal spectrum. In their first records (1977-1983), they developed a custom flavour of blues/hard rocking metal, which earned them a contract with Capitol Records and enough acclaim to open for bands like AC/DC, Kiss and Molly Hatchet. At the onset of the '80s, however, the band’s momentum slowed down due to line-up changes, that brought with their turn, a shift of style towards tech power/speed metal. However, the end merit of records like Thundersteel
and the The Privilege of Power
was nothing short of excellent. Unfortunately the band failed to exploit its second chance. Problems with the management and the rise of grunge/alternative rock during '90s, came to add up to the constant line-up changes, confining Riot within a cult status. Despite all the aforementioned setbacks, the band never stopped issuing records of “classic” metal with good-to-excellent quality. In 2009, Reale decided to re-assemble the line-up responsible for the two aforementioned tech-power metal gems and record Immortal Soul
, an album with enough potential to bring Riot back to the forestage.
In short, Immortal Soul
could legitimately be the heir apparent to The Privilege of Power
. Riot refine their '80s melodic/technocratic heavy/speed metal perspective with a freshness long lost from the “classic” metal scene. First of all, the sound production feels “21st century”, yet it remains “'80s metal” with a most welcome live feeling. The guitars of Mark Reale and Mike Flyntz are constantly on fire, whether they implement their ultra fast (or melancholic mid-tempo) riffing or by subjecting their capable fingers to collective or solo (sic) solo shredding, in the vein of bands like Iron Maiden (the ultimate icon for the whole of US metal acts). As for the rhythm section, it stands up there with the guitars, as the bass lines of Don Van Stavern and the superb performance of the metal drumming machine that hears in the name of Bobby Jarzombek, give all the needed push the songs demand. On top of all, though, it’s Tony Moore’s vocals that complete the record as a whole. Whether he sings high or middle pitch, using his impeccable vibrato capabilities in both occasions, his excellent lyrics pronunciation helps the listener in absorbing and memorizing all the songs after just few listening sessions. With his performance on Immortal Souls
, Tony Moore brings forth into the 21st century, the line of superb US metal singers such as Carl Albert (Vicious Rumors - R.I.P.), Harry “Tyrant” Conklin (Jag Panzer) and James Rivera (Helstar).
Instead of a proper epilogue a quote of vicious rumors (sic): in the cruel and cynical world of music industry, whisperers mumble between their teeth than Immortal Soul
does not re-invent the wheel and that this reunion took place within the general scheme of management agencies to provide metal fans with material from bands’ line-ups, whose work was critically acclaimed in the past. Whatever the case may be, the quality of Immortal Soul
has all it takes to make old school "emeritus" metalheads ignore the aforementioned conspiracy theories, take their denim and leather out of the closet, remember the days when they were “young and stupid”, get drunk, and attend the next Riot show at their home town with full head banging force. On the other hand, the metal youth of today, stands in front of an honest appeal of old school melodic metal, from a band that will cease to exist only under the weight of nature’s inherent degradation mechanisms.