Riot – “Sons of Society (Bonus Edition)” (Metal Blade Records)
Formed in the mid 70s, Riot remain a cult band even to this very day, despite all their founding members having passed on – and it’s easy to see why! Playing a heavy but extremely catchy hard rock metal steeped in epic and passionate music, Riot have soldiered on through the decades mainly owing to the perseverance of one man: guitarist Mark Reale. A lifelong sufferer of Crohn’s Disease, Reale remained unperturbed and took Riot into Europe and Japan, where anyone witnessing the band and hearing their amazing music – myself included – would never forget them. Despite a revolving door of musicians, Reale remained resolute and never sold out, garnering even more respect from fans for his honesty and straight from the heart music. Originally released in 1999, “Sons of Society” was the band’s 11th album and remains one of my favorites from this era of Riot. With a solid line up including drummer Bobby Jarzombek (Fates Warning, Iced Earth etc) and vocalist Mike DiMeo (Masterplan), songs like ‘On The Wings Of Life’, ‘Dragonfire’ and ‘Twist Of Fate’ exemplify Reale’s composing at its best, with fast intricate guitar driven melodies, passionate high vocals, unbelievably deep choruses, racing solos and all the while backed by a thundering rhythm! While today’s genres certainly draw from these aspects individually, few in my opinion can combine them as well and naturally as Riot could hence the continuing interest in the band’s timeless music, even after Mark Reale passed in 2012. This bonus release contains 5 instrumental rough mixes of album’s tracks recorded in good quality although for anyone new to Riot this album is more than a worthy start to this legendary band, who currently continue in the form of Riot V, led by guitarist Mike Flyntz in the memory of Reale – shine on Mark!