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Riot V: Armor Of Light

It would be easy to be sniffy about Riot V. After all, what’s a band without it’s founder and leader? However, that the estate of Mark Reale not only approve of Riot continuing (now with the added V), but are fully supportive of the work they are doing to keep Reale’s music alive, should leave little doubt that the motives behind this band’s resurgence are pure and from the heart. And that is also exactly where their music comes from. The first Riot V album, Unleash The Fire, was a triumphant roar of US Power Metal majesty and Armor Of Light might just be even better.

As other older, returning acts have also confirmed in recent times, when old school metal is done just right, there’s no denying that it is a thing of beauty and no little force. Flotsam & Jetsam, Metal Church, Saxon, Accept… the list goes on, and now right at the head of that pack are Riot V. It’s no exaggeration to say that the guitar pairing of Mike Flyntz and Nick Lee have got the balance between power and precision just right, while bassist Don Van Stavern builds the perfect foundation from which all the mighty metal flows. However in drummer Frank Gilchrist, Riot V have a real weapon at their core, his double-kick work amazingly precise and yet never does it become overbearing, or drop into that metronomic blur that so many drum pounders unintentionally slip into. Instead the beats are varied, with the snare and cymbal work adding colour and interest as the feet go twenty to the dozen.

All that said, none of it would matter if Riot V didn’t have the songs to back up their bullish bombast… “Messiah” possesses power, it possesses drama and with singer Todd Michael Hall in full flow it possesses the flashing vocal blade to cut right to the heart. Honestly, is there a better singer in metal right now? In a world of Halford wannabes and Dickinson clones, that TMH has the power and range of both, without ever once trying to ape either, leaves him as a simply stunning focal point throughout. “Angel’s Thunder, Devil’s Reign”, a song all about staying true to the things that drive you - namely good, heavy music - pulls back on the throttle, but Riot V can still leave you breathless with the array of fret flurries and glistening hooks at their disposal. “Caught In The Witches Eye” adds an unexpected stab of synth-brass and a stomping chorus that bristles and struts, while “San Antonio” is crammed with darting lead work, pummelling rhythms and yet another vocal that can’t quite wait to rip your head clean off. That this is all done with hooks aplenty and molten mounds of melody possibly explains why, with so many bands looking to try and make their mark in this style, Riot V stands tall and proud above them.

I know it’s a cliché to suggest that you could pick out any of the tracks here for special praise, but honestly, give the staccato riffed “Heart Of A Lion”, dynamically dramatic “Armor Of Light” or the romp and roar of “Raining Fire” time to dig deep in the mind and you’ll agree that finding weakness here is quite some task. Riot V are not only making sure that the legacy and music of their fallen band mate is celebrated and restored, they are also building a new an immensely impressive catalogue of their own. If US metal has ever grabbed your interest, you simply need to clad yourself in Riot V’s Armor Of Light.

Track Listing
1. Victory
2. End of the World
3. Messiah
4. Angel’s Thunder, Devil’s Reign
5. Burn the Daylight
6. Heart of a Lion
7. Armor of Light
8. Set the World Alight
9. San Antonio
10. Caught in the Witches Eye
11. Ready to Shine
12. Raining Fire

Added: May 3rd 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Riot V online
Hits: 676
Language: english

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