RIOT V - Armor Of Light
May 19, 2018, a year ago
The continuation of Mark Reale's legacy, a new album by Riot V, begins with the constant clacking of triggered double bass drums on "Victory" opener. Have grown to enjoy vocalist Todd Michael Hall with each successive album (and live appearance, where he really excels). No longer just a screamer (he can hit the requisite ceiling scrappers), but as a forceful singing voice. Little let-up throughout the dozen tracks. Think easy sing-along choruses, with Thundersteel intensity, start to finish. Speaking of which, the digi-pak bonus is a 30th anniversary re-recording of said title cut.
Great guitar work, including twin leads, on "Messiah", an otherwise by-the-book speedy Riot number. "Angel's Thunder, Devil's Reign" could have been written during the ‘80s, which is as high a compliment as I can pay the current incarnation. After a bit of nondescript misstep in "Burn The Daylight", things get back on track on the lively and ambitious "Heart Of A Lion", strong, sing-able melodies for the biographical tale of 19th century British monarch (and feared Warrior, if you get the in-joke). Although they've never made any overt proclamations (that I'm aware of), thought it before and "Armor Of Light" (as well as a couple of the aforementioned title/lyrics), but there appears to be a veiled evangelistic bent running through the band these days. Coincidence? Music still kicks ass though. "San Antonio" is an ode to their current (and Reale's final) home base. "Caught In The Witches Eye" slows things down. Not a ballad, but less frenetic than the rest of the disc, more in keeping with the pre-Thundersteel era, even with a short, nearly concealed blast of brass horns. Mid-tempo and gang vocal augmented "Ready To Shine" is a "found a new life, via prayer" (ahem) offering, while sci-fi closer, "Raining Fire" seems inspired by some sort of mechanized Terminator universe, with a chorus that includes, "Synchronized warfare, rivets and steel. Hypnotized puppets doing the deed, for the thrill of the kill." High energy!