Riot V
Unleash The Fire


3.6
great

Review

by Voivod STAFF
November 14th, 2014 | 35 replies


Release Date: 10/28/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Take me back to that place where I belong.

Sometimes, the title of an album tells the story of a band in so many words. Riot’s previous full length, the now critically acclaimed Immortal Soul, was yet another statement that the New Yorkers were persisting through time and mischief, but soon it acquired a new meaning, in view of an utterly unfortunate event. The untimely passing of guitarist Mark Reale (R.I.P.) due to Crohn’s disease, shortly after Immortal Soul got released, gave way to a dilemma regarding the entitlement of surviving band members to continue under the Riot moniker. As Reale founded the band in the late ‘70s, the situation called for a carefully thought decision.

In that light, Don van Stavern and Mike Flyntz asked for the consent of Reale’s father, and Riot paid its founder a different kind of memorial, this time on live stages in Japan and Europe. The fan feedback was of such magnitude, that the band started thinking about a new album. With the letter “V” signifying Riot’s fifth incarnation of with a different singer, and a new line up featuring old companions and promising new musicians, band comes back with Unleash The Fire, a great album that lives up to its legacy.

Due to a series of circumstances, three thirds of the (classic) lineup that recorded Immortal Soul are not part of the new album. While some would expect the quality of the music to decline accordingly, Unleash The Fire looses some merit merely due to technical matters (the rather “thin” sound production), and the fact that it succeeds a behemoth of an album. In general, the band resides between the first “hard rocking metal” period (1977-1983) and the equally excellent, late ‘80s US heavy/power metal legacy, and it does so without sounding boring in the least. Despite the devastating absence of Reale and the significant lineup changes, Riot remain highly relevant in terms of song writing, and come as one of the best bands from the “tech” side of heavy/power metal. Apart from the music, the album’s lyrical content is excellent in that it praises the fans for keeping the band going all these years, while it stresses the nostalgia for ‘80s in general and good ‘80s metal in particular. Moreover, Flyntz and van Stavern pay their discrete but wholehearted respect to Reale with “Immortal” and “Until We Meet Again”, songs that lie among the most sentimental moments in the album.

Riot V’s album wouldn’t be worth it, if it wasn’t for the individual musicians coming through. Mike Flyntz and Don van Stavern have written yet another great album, and their general merit is “sine qua non”. Drummer Frank Gilchriest has already revealed his credentials on the Army of One album back in the day (and in recent live concerts), and brings on the table the excess tension this band needs. Vocalist Todd Michael Hall is not Tony Moore, but it is common ground for those who have seen him live (like yours truly), that he’s a perfect fit for the band. His high pitch is “Rob Halford” level in the power metal moments of the album and equally good on the hard rocking metal tunes. Last but not least in terms of band newcomers, guitarist Nick Lee was called to fill the huge shoes of Mark Reale, but as long as Flyntz (his guitar teacher) and van Stavern are ok with it, so should everyone else. His recent European tour with the band was his first trip outside the States and he certainly stood up to the task during the Thessaloniki, Greece live concert.

When the surviving Riot members ask Reale’s father for his permission to go on as a band, he replied “Don’t bury Riot’s music with Mark, let it live”. Given the quality of Unleash The Fire, it’s only fair that Riot V should go on for as long as they can, merely because there are people who need their music. The finest example in that respect is the gesture of a handful of Greek fans in order to get to see the band live. As no “constitutional” promoter would risk his money doing so, they paid Riot from their own pockets and brought them to Thessaloniki, Greece for a monumental live show that wound up almost sold-out. How can a band cease to exist with this kind of fans" It simply can’t.



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user ratings (22)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Voivod
Staff Reviewer
November 14th 2014


8050 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6 | Sound Off

As always, constructive criticism is most welcome.

Digging: Reign - Destitute

Sabrutin
November 14th 2014


5823 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice, you summarized my exact feelings towards this album. It definitely could have used more variety, but most of the tracks are really good for my ears.



I'm really digging Hall's voice, he makes songs like "Until We Meet Again" even more emotional. My other favorite tracks so far are "Land Of The Rising Sun", "Take Me Back", "Return Of The Outlaw" and the opener "Ride Hard Live Free", which I can't seem to get outside of my head.



Anyway, I was wondering if we should really treat this as a separate band. What about simply changing 'Riot' to 'Riot V' and using the same page? They clearly don't want to neglect their past, after all. Wikipedia did it too, for example.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
November 14th 2014


8050 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6 | Sound Off

Metal Archives haven't made any distinction between "both" bands and the album was released in Japan under the "Riot" moniker.



Rate Your Music has listed the Japanese version of the album without the "V" letter and under the "Riot" label.



Perhaps we should merge the bands as well, idk.

Sabrutin
November 14th 2014


5823 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I noticed too the cover art without the V. I really don't know what to say because I have to admit that their site is copyrighted as "Riot V 2013-2014".

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
November 14th 2014


8050 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6 | Sound Off

Flyntz and van Stavern said in an interview for Metal Hammer Greece that the Japanese wanted the album as soon as possible, and at that time they hadn't decided for the "V" alteration.



Moreover, the final mix in the Japanese version is different than that released in the rest of the world, whereas a sound engineer produced the Japanese version of the album. The European/worldwide version has a different sound production.



I have the European version and the sound is good, it's not Immortal Soul though.

Sabrutin
November 14th 2014


5823 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

What actually keeps me thinking of a merge is the high number of references, from Johnny on the cover to the lyrics and even the logo itself. I guess I should just stop thinking about it, haha.

ExplosiveOranges
November 14th 2014


4408 Comments


Knew this would be a Voivod review the minute I saw that cover, haha.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
November 14th 2014


11337 Comments


Great write up Voivod, have a mental pos.

I agree that there should be one page for these guys.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
November 14th 2014


8050 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6 | Sound Off

Thanks Manos.



I hear you, but I think the band made the right decision, given that its founder has passed awsy.





@ExplosiveOranges



I know my old school metal when I see it ;)

Negator
November 14th 2014


1456 Comments


This looks right under my alley, good review.

Digging: Les Big Byrd - Iran Iraq IKEA

SharkTooth
November 14th 2014


13855 Comments


Riot V’s album wouldn’t worth it
I think you're missing a 'be' between wouldn't and worth it

other than that:beautiful review man!

Spec
November 15th 2014


35540 Comments


dragon ball zeeeeeeeeeee

TheNotrap
November 15th 2014


9416 Comments


Nice review.

Fire Down Under and Thundersteel are great, might check this reincarnation.


Digging: Obliteration - Cenotaph Obscure

Wizard
November 15th 2014


20202 Comments


Interesting back story to this band.

I love NWOBHM and this sounds great. Awesome review dude.

LongBeaver
November 15th 2014


5 Comments


The new guitarist's name is Nick Lee not Mike.


InFlamesWeThrash666
November 15th 2014


8523 Comments


Okay album but nothing special imo.

Digging: Power Trip - Manifest Decimation

SharkTooth
November 15th 2014


13855 Comments


In general, band resides between the first
you're also missing a 'the' before 'band'

MeatSalad
November 15th 2014


17386 Comments


Had no idea about their old guitarist, thats some scary shit

walfernu
November 15th 2014


102 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The righteous follow up to "Thundersteel". Very impressive and amazing.

menawati
November 17th 2014


16587 Comments


havent heard anything since narita and fire down under, nice review as always



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