Review Summary: Getting louder
Thanks to DJ Neal Kays' publicity for Rock City, which ended up being imported vastly in the UK, Riot were called back in the studio to finish their second creation, Narita, published in 1979. Anyway, things weren't easy. The band was touring with AC/DC, and Capitol Records wanted them to go for a more commercial sound. Obviously enough, founder guitarist Mark Reale had different plans and kept leading the band how he pleased. The result is history: unknown to masses, influential to music.
Narita presents itself as a louder version of Rock City. The riffing is tasty, the solos are faster and longer, and the drumming is more aggressive. Last time on Rock City, Riot managed to be precursors of power metal with their "Warrior". This time, Riot wanted to dig that sound further: Narita in fact reaches at times an enviable intensity and speed in its playing. This was probably caused by a change in the band's line-up. Ex guitarist L.A. Kouravis was replaced with Rick Ventura, which performed a heavier playing and therefore made the new Reale-Ventura couple sound heavier than the Reale-Kouvaris one. Fun fact: the band was now composed of Italo-Americans members only.
The most memorable moments of Narita are without a doubt the titletrack and "Hot For Love". The first is an instrumental track that features the faster and more melodic riffing of the entire work, accompanied by a strong rhythm section and fast soloing. Listen after listen, the listener will be constantly surprised by how intense and insanely catchy the titletrack sounds. The other important moment is found in the before mentioned "Hot For Love". What at first seems another common party song changes direction towards the end, pressing the accelerator for a surprising conclusion: as the soloing goes faster, so are the fake orgasms over it. The result is another intense moment that will leave the unaware listener silent during the first listen.
The problem with Narita, however, ironically lies in its strong points. The overall less melodic sound, combined with the higher presence of party/love lyrics, makes the album feel not as fresh as Rock City was. Singer Guy Speranza doesn't provide as much hooks as he used to, and the listener may grow tired faster. Therefore, Narita sounds less consistent than Rock City. Sure, the Reale-Ventura couple rocks, but songs like "Here We Come Again", "Do It Up" or "White Rock" are the best sum of the aforementioned issues. The best of these tracks is probably "Kick Down The Walls", where Speranza shows the kind of hooks that the overall work needed more.
Again, thanks to Steve Loeb, the band would have been soon brought to the studio again to register new music. Sadly, the grudge between Capitol Records and Riot was not over and would have reached the climax with the band's third studio effort: Fire Down Under.