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Riot: Nightbreaker (reissue)

Often overlooked and nearly always underrated, Riot have to go down as one of the best and most consistent rock and metal acts the US has ever produced. From their inception in the mid 70s they began to beat the drum for a US answer to the NWOBHM and were also in the 80s and early 90s at the forefront of the US power metal sound. However by the mid 90s and having already braved a complete disbanding to only return as strong, if a little different, Riot were evolving once more; this time incorporating their own previous styles into a classy rock sheen with metallic overtones. Gone was vocalist Tony Moore, his replacement being the relatively unknown Mike DiMeo - and what a find he was! Retaining the twin guitar attack of band mainman Mark Reale and relative newcomer Mike Flyntz, Nightbreaker saw the band utilise the twin guitar attack with less full on force than the previous two albums (The Privilege Of Power and Thundersteel), melody and poise more in evidence. Whereas DiMeo utilised a more bluesy gritty tone than his predecessor to ensure the songs remained more soulful. That's not to suggest that there aren't hard hitting face melters on Nightbreaker, the push and shove of "Soldier" setting the album's scene quite masterfully, as "Night Breaker" and "Silent Scream" dive straight for the jugular. However through the keyboard infused "In Your Eyes" (which even has a touch of Europe about it) a smoother, yet no less effective side was revealed, while "Medicine Man" utilises a mid paced groove to quite stunning effect.

Never a band to shy away from a cover, Nightbreaker provides two; the first a straight, if less histrionic laden take on the Purple MkIII classic "Burn", the second being an interesting twin guitar meander through the Procul Harem staple, "A Whiter Shade Of Pale", which while good fun I could easily live without. However a reworking of their own "Outlaw" proves much more rewarding, this beefed up version true to the original, while adding a few new twists and turns.

As with many Riot albums, slightly different versions appeared, across the years, in different territories, the European version of this album replacing "A Whiter Shade…" with "I'm On The Run", while the Japanese edition added "Black Mountain Woman". The 1999 reissue of the album also included the track "Faded Hero" and thankfully this Metal Blade reissue brings all three tracks together for assessment.

Nightbreaker may not be classed as one of the true gems in the Riot canon, but that purely goes to show just how impressive this band's catalogue of work is. If you haven't experienced Riot before and you hanker for a band capable of combining rock and metal through some of the best guitar playing you could hope for, then Nightbreaker is as good a place to start as any.

Track Listing
1. Soldier
2. Destiny
3. Burn
4. In Your Eyes
5. Night Breaker
6. Medicine Man
7. Silent Scream
8. Magic Maker
9. A Whiter Shade Of Pale
10. Babylon
11. Outlaw
12. Faded Hero
13. I'm On The Run
14. Black Mountain Woman

Added: August 30th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Riot V online
Hits: 1949
Language: english

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