RIOT V - Mean Streets

May 7, 2024, 2 weeks ago

(Atomic Fire)

Rich Catino

Rating: 8.0

review heavy metal riot v

RIOT V - Mean Streets

Riot have really stuck to their guns since the debut Rock City in 1977, unfortunately never making it to a household name, any commercial hit songs (ok, "Swords And Tequila") on the radio, or regulars on MTV in the ‘80s. The love of creating music has kept Riot going despite no mainstream success. Was it the inconsistent lineups, odd mascot, cheap looking album covers, ever changing logo, all the above? 

Guitarist/original member Mark Reale was the only mainstay until his death in 2012, with guitarist Mike Flyntz (1989 - present), bassist Don Van Stern (back since 2008) picking up the pieces, adding the V to the band name for fifth singer Todd Michael Hall in 2013. Like Hellloween are to European power metal, Riot have championed the American branch with the classic Thundersteel in 1988, and many moments since on following albums. But once getting Hall behind the mic for the last two albums, these mean streets are now lush with triumphant power packed power metal, "Hail To The Warriors"! 

"Feel the Fire" could have been a flawless second track if they just went right to the verse riff, but at its start it’s too much Priest like “Grinder”. You guys should know better. Regardless, once it kicks in a solid fist in the air rocker. Hall’s higher vocal just adds spirit and good feel to every song. Nice tasty guitars in the solo section, too. Twin guitar melodies begins that meaty riff to "Love Beyond The Grave" which is one of my favs. Again, Hall shines, and I can't say that enough. Great backing vocal melodies, and the darker chorus. "Higher" and "High Noon" drive with quickened drums and double bass. "Before This Time" is another well-constructed melodic one with complimenting guitar leads. 

Title track keeps its pace with a NWOBHM gallop. "Open Road" is another favorite, a mid-tempo rocker with those bright vocals and harmonies that flow right into the hook. Deep bass begins "Mortal Eyes", while "Lost Dreams" possesses old-school Riot riffing. "Lean In To It" breaks out of the power metal shell also with a little funk in the rhythm section, while track 12 "No More" maybe could have been left off, or added as a bonus track.  

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