Riot V – “Unleash The Fire” (Steamhammer / SPV)
Johnny’s back again! When founder / luminary Mark Reale sadly passed away in early 2012, I thought that was pretty much it for this classic US metal band that I’d followed since the 80s. As the band fulfilled their obligations to play out shows in Reale’s honor all I was left with were the memories and satisfaction that his legacy was intact. When I heard about Riot V I have to say that my heart fell, for even as a ‘tribute’ band I wondered if it was fitting and right. However, Mr Tony Reale – Mark’s father – along with Mark as his dying wish felt different in that all that Riot had achieved over the years and its vision should carry on. Taking almost a year to re-enlist a band still in mourning centered around Don Van Stavern (bass) and Mike Flyntz (guitars), three new members were recruited in Nick Lee on guitars (a former Mike Flyntz student), Todd Michael Hall on vocals (Burning Starr, Reverence and who came recommended by Bart Gabriel) and Frank Gilchriest on drums (Virgin Steele, Riot’s Army of One). Together they make up Riot V! To say this album blew me away is an understatement – my heart is rejoicing not just that it sounds like Riot, but classic Riot from the early 80s mixed with that landmark album “Thundersteel”! With Van Stavern writing the bulk of the material followed by Flyntz, that is perhaps unsurprising, but that they’ve done such a phenomenal job is truly to their credit and the strength of their bonding to Mark Reale’s music. Todd Michael Hall has blended all the previous vocal styles from Guy Speranza’s soul to Tony Moore’s shredding highs while Flyntz and Lee truly garnered my admiration in playing their souls out, cranking our classic Riot riffs and firebrand solos that I’m sure Mark would’ve been proud of – along with Donny and Frank’s unflagging rhythm that shows a band who rather than fade away into the night have stepped up to the plate and then some! Most of all, the passion and massive melodies – along with that incredible speed and power – that made the legend of Riot are more than ever there in songs like ‘Return Of The Law’ and ‘Land Of The Rising Sun’ – not to mention a searing live version of ‘Thundersteel’. Riot fans out there can be assured that the band are still fighting the good fight, and their fire is still there unleashed in a new 5th chapter that is no more movingly captured in the tearful ‘Until We Meet Again’. Mark, Guy and Rhett can smile down from rock n’ roll heaven that their legacy continues to Shine On!