My first memory of the band Riot was an ad in Hit Parader magazine for their then new album, RESTLESS BREED. I remember thinking how odd the cover was as was the one for their previous album, FIRE DOWN UNDER. I never gave Riot a chance, mostly because of so much other music out there and I had to be frugal with my allowance. If I was able to preview music like we can now, things would have been different... way different.
Now going under the moniker Riot V, the band are set to release an amazing live album RIOT V - LIVE IN JAPAN 2018 from AFM Records on August 30th. What is exciting for me as I listen to it is that every song is brand new to me so I can't compare these versions to past studio versions that featured previous talented vocalists and players. These songs were going to be judged on what I heard and nothing else, and... wow!!!!!
Not knowing what to expect at all, my first thought was how the band sound like Queensryche, Iron Maiden and Helloween all rolled into one mayhem filled package. The 23 songs cover the bands entire 16 album career with a heavy, yet melodic sense of style and presentation. Kicking off with Armor Of Light and finishing with Warrior, this collection is almost two hours without a slowdown and never lets you up for a breath.
The 'V' line-up (added following the death of founding member and guiding force, guitarist Mark Reale) features vocalist Todd Michael Hall, guitarists Mike Flyntz & Nick Lee, bassist Don Van Stavern and drummer Frank Gilchriest who surprise me song after song with their live prescience and tightness. Following a long line of talented singers, Hall has no trouble navigating the band's past with the songs he recorded and makes it very seamless. In fact my favorite songs in this collection are from his two albums with the band, Land Of The Rising Sun, Fall From The Sky and Take Me Back. In fact, i'll be heading to my local record shop, Music Outlet to order those two albums; UNLEASH THE FIRE and ARMOR OF LIGHT as soon as i'm done with this review. Since vocals are the 'element' that makes or breaks music for me, in Hall I can hear the Geoff Tate and Michael Kiske (Helloween) tones but underneath I feel a little Joe Lynn Turner melody going on, especially on Angel Eyes.
So, here is my deal and maybe yours, too. Remember the bands that we were introduced to because of killer live albums? KISS? Cheap Trick? Blue Oyster Cult? Over three decades later we have been given a killer live album that may (or not) be your introduction to the awesome legacy of Riot. I suggest you take a chance because on LIVE IN JAPAN 2018, Riot V have done their part making the music, it's up to YOU to enjoy it... on August 30th!!!!!
The Power Chords Podcast is a twice-monthly podcast celebrating rock and metal music of the '70s, '80s, '90s and beyond. The show is co-hosted by Matt Herring and Brian LeTendre.