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Riot V – Unleash the Fire [Review]


Riot V – Unleash the Fire
2014, Steamhammer/SPV
Buy the album

1. Ride Hard Live Free
2. Metal Warrior
3. Fall From the Sky
4. Bring the Hammer Down
5. Unleash the Fire
6. Land of the Rising Sun
7. Kill to Survive
8. Return of the Outlaw
9. Immortal
10. Take Me Back
11. Fight Fight Fight
12. Until We Meet Again

Todd Michael Hall – Vocals
Mike Flyntz – Guitar
Nick Lee- Guitar
Don Van Stavern – Bass
Frank Gilchriest – Drums

Bruno Ravel, Joshua Black & Riot V

After the unfortunate passing of Riot founder/lead guitarist Mark Reale in 2012, Riot called it a day… temporarily. In 2013, longtime Riot band members guitarist Mike Flyntz, bassist Don Van Stavern and drummer Bobby Jarzombek announced the formation of an off-shoot band called Riot V with the purpose of keeping Mark’s music alive in concert as well as recording new studio music. This was done with the blessing of Mark’s family.

The “V”, I assume, is in reference to the 2010s being the fifth decade of Riot’s existence. I’ve read elsewhere that it’s because this is the fifth line-up of the band but that’s ridiculous and absolutely not true. This band gives Black Sabbath a run for their money with line-up changes… and probably beats them!

After some touring, by the time Riot V got around to recording new material, Bobby Jarzombek was out of the band and in his place is Virgin Steele drummer, Frank Gilchriest, who previously played in Riot from 2003 – 2007. Longtime on again/off again Riot vocalist Tony Moore chose not (or was not asked) to partake in Riot V. In his place is vocalist Todd Michael Hall. Hall does a fantastic job and sounds similar to Tony Moore, which helps this album retain it’s classic Riot sound. As much as I would have loved for Tony and Bobby to remain in this group, Hall and Gilchriest are more than able to step in for them.

So how does Unleash the Fire fare in comparison to Riot’s catalog? Quite well. While Riot always stayed within the realm of hard rock and heavy metal, they took a few twists and turns. With Immortal Soul and Unleash the Fire, it seems like the idea has been to get back the band’s traditional metal roots. Even the title of them album seems like a nod to the band’s 1981 classic Fire Down Under, while there’s also a sequel to that album’s “Outlaw” in the form of Unleash the Fire‘s “Return of the Outlaw”.

As much as I liked Immortal Soul, I think Unleash the Fire may be a bit better. It has more of that classic ’80s melodic power metal sound that Riot had in their glory days. Like a lot of Riot fans, I use Thundersteel as the measuring stick (although I know there are many who would say Fire Down Under). Unleash the Fire does a good job of capturing both eras, even if the heaviest moments here aren’t as heavy as some of the Judas Priest Painkiller-like moments found on Thundersteel.

There’s a couple of songs that are obvious tributes to Mark Reale — “Immortal” and “Until We Meet Again” (and “Land of the Rising Sun” sounds like the band was trying to do Maiden). Even the album art features a nod to Mark Reale with a street sign. While we unfortunately do not have that gifted and severely underrated songwriter/guitarist with us anymore, Riot V is carrying on the legacy of Mark Reale and Riot in grand fashion.

Any fan of Riot should be able to appreciate this album. Despite losing the founding member and lead creative force of the group, Unleash the Fire still sounds like Riot. For myself, and like when I listen to many of Riot’s releases, this album takes me back to a simpler time and headspace. Anytime an album can do that for you, it’s a win.

Highlights: “Ride Hard Live Free”, “Fall from the Sky”, “Unleash the Fire”, “Land of the Rising Sun”, “Immortal”, “Take Me Back”, “Until We Meet Again”

Mark Reale (1955 – 2012)

On Wednesday, January 26, 2012, the metal world suffered a great loss. Mark Reale, the guitarist, founding member & driving force behind Riot, passed away due to complications from his life-long battle with Crohn’s disease. He had been in a coma for the past two weeks after suffering a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

An official statement from the surviving members of Riot (Tony Moore, Mike Flyntz, Don Van Stavern & Bobby Jarzombek):

“To friends and fans of Mark Reale and Riot, we are deeply saddened to confirm that Mark has lost his battle with a lifelong illness. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated by Mark’s family, friends, and bandmates at this difficult time.”

This is really shocking news to me. I was aware that Mark was suffering from Crohn’s disease and had been hospitalized, but I did not know he actually entered into a coma and had a brain hemorrhage.

His contributions to the world of hard rock & heavy metal are immeasurable in my opinion. Despite Riot’s line-up changes over the years, and the shift in styles from hard rock to NWOBHM to power metal to Celtic influences to southern hard rock to melodic rock, Mark was always the driving force and the one constant.

It was only in the last few years that I got into Riot but I was blown away once I started buying their albums and I quickly acquired the entire catalog. They never released a bad album. Riot’s constant shift in styles was a double-edge sword though. They did so well at playing numerous styles of rock/metal, and I enjoyed the variety, but it probably kept more casual fans at bay and prevented them from ever gaining a large following. Albums like Fire Down Under (universally agreed to be their best), Thundersteel, Born in America, Restless Breed and even last year’s Immortal Soul are absolute CLASSICS.

I do not know where Riot goes from here or if there even is anywhere for them to go. Mark & Riot have soldiered on through various line-up changes and styles since 1975. They’ve even had to deal with two previous deaths. Former vocalist Rhett Forester was killed during a carjacking in 1994 and original vocalist Guy Speranza died of cancer in 2003. With Mark’s passing, there are no more original Riot members left in the band. And to me, Mark was Riot.

Neither Reale nor Riot ever really got the credit or success they deserved. While the loss of Mark is a tragic tale for his fans, friends & family hopefully some good can come out of this and people will be compelled to look back into the Riot catalog and realize just how talented and consistent the man has been since the 1970s.

My condolences to all of Mark’s friends and family during this tough time. Rest in peace, brother. Your suffering is over and I thank you for all the years of great music you gave the world. You will be missed. 

The Metal Excess Awards: 2011 Edition

Last year I said 2010 was a better year for music than 2009 was. I went on to wonder how 2011 could even begin to top it. Well, guess what… 2011 did indeed top 2010! I’m looking back at my Top 25 list for 2010 and while those albums are all still good, this year’s Top 25 list is much stronger top to bottom.

2011 was a great year that saw classic rock/metal acts like Whitesnake, Warrant, Riot, Alice Cooper, Journey, Black N’ Blue and King Kobra deliver some of the best albums of their career while younger acts like Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Savage Messiah, Evile (who missed the list by this much) and Black Veil Brides have shown that they are more than capable of carrying rock & metal into the future.

Top 25 Albums of 2011

1. Whitesnake – Forevermore
2. Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
3. Riot – Immortal Soul
4. Warrant – Rockaholic
5. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. Megadeth – Thirteen
8. Anthrax – Worship Music
9. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
10. Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
11. Edguy – Age of the Joker
12. Hurtsmile – s/t
13. Journey – Eclipse
14. Chickenfoot – III
15. Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground
16. Black Country Communion – 2
17. The Poodles – Performocracy
18. House of Lords – Big Money
19. King Kobra – s/t
20. Saliva – Under Your Skin
21. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
22. Black N’ Blue – Hell Yeah!
22. Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience
24. George Lynch – Kill All Control
25. Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl

Best E.P./Single
In light of a few non-album singles being released this year, I’ve decided to make this a hybrid category.

1. Sixx:A.M. – 7
2. Black Veil Brides – Rebels
3. Who Cares – Out of My Mind / Holy Water
4. Wildstreet – II …Faster …Louder!
5. The Last Vegas – The Other Side E.P.

Best Compilation/Cover/Live/Reissue Albums
Kind of a catch-all category this year. Instead of listing each category individually, I decided to lump them all into one list and rank them that way.

1. Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]
2. Stryper – The Covering
3. Vains of Jenna – Reverse Tripped
4. Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990
5. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – Live: Made In Stoke 24/7/11
6. Hell – Human Remains
7. Scorpions – Comeblack
8. Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More
9. Eric Carr – Unfinished Business
10. Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]

Want to read more about the year in music? Check out some of the fine sites & blogs listed below! And be sure to keep checking back for more Year-End posts here at Metal Excess!

All Metal Resource —

Bring Back Glam —

The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. –

Hair Metal Mansion —

Hard Rock Hideout —

Hard Rock Nights —

Heavy Metal Addiction —

Heavy Metal Time Machine —

Imagine Echoes —

Layla’s Classic Rock —

Metal Odyssey —

The Ripple Effect —

Riot – Immortal Soul

Riot – Immortal Soul (2011, SPV/Steamhammer Records)

1. Riot … 5:03
2. Still Your Man … 4:16
3. Crawling … 5:52
4. Wings Are for Angels … 5:09
5. Fall Before Me … 4:55
6. Sins of the Father … 3:55
7. Majestica … 0:57
8. Immortal Soul … 4:46
9. Insanity … 4:40
10. Whiskey Man … 4:15
11. Believe … 4:17
12. Echoes … 4:57

Tony Moore – Vocals
Mark Reale – Guitar
Mike Flyntz – Guitar
Don Van Stavern – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums

Producer: Bruno Ravel & Riot

Riot has returned to deliver pure American heavy metal to the masses!

Immortal Soul features the reunited Thundersteel/The Privilege of Power line-up (with additional guitarist Mike Flyntz) that featured the gifted Tony Moore vocals. I’ve always said Riot has never released a bad album. They’re taken a few twists & turns when it comes to the style of rock/metal they would play, but it’s always been quality stuff. I really didn’t have any doubts about the quality of Immortal Soul and became even more enthusiastic for it when the excellent “Wings Are for Angels” was released for streaming earlier this year. That’s one of my favorite songs of 2011!

This album is a great trip back in time. The production is fantastic but the songs are written like this is the direct follow-up to Thundersteel. Anyone who was a fan of that album and Privilege of Power will NOT be disappointed with Immortal Soul. Yeah, this is American POWER metal at its finest. Mark Reale is still firing off some nice solos and coming up with great riffs, Bobby Jarzombek is a monster on the drums as always and Tony Moore is still killin’ it on vocals.

Riot is one of the great American heavy metal bands. It’s a shame they never got the widespread recognition they deserved in the 36 years of their existence. Mark Reale is one of metal’s best guitarists even now. Though the world at large may be unaware, for those of us in the know, we know that Riot’s place in the pantheon of heavy metal is secure.

This is an album not to be missed by Riot fans or anyone into a more tradition heavy metal sound from bands such as Judas Priest. This whole album is classic Riot full of the thrashers, speed, power and melodic metal that many fans fondly remember from the previous Tony Moore era.

Highlights: “Riot”, “Still Your Man”, “Crawling”, “Wings Are for Angels”, “Fall Before Me”, “Sins of the Father”, “Immortal Soul”, “Believe”

Buy ‘Immortal Soul’ at

Upcoming Reviews…

Be on the lookout for reviews for Slash’s new live album, the new Eric Carr anthology and the latest from Riot!

Looking Forward to in 2011…

2011 has a quite a challenge in front of it. 2010 was filled with TONS of great albums. If 2011 can pull off even half of what last year did, it’ll still be a great year. This isn’t some complete list, there may be more projects in the works that I’ve forgotten about or don’t know about yet… but that doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to them! This is just a list of stuff off the top of my head…

Wildstreet – II …Faster …Louder EP (January 25th)
One of my favorite albums of 2009 was Wildstreet’s debut. I would love a full album but if an EP is all I can get, I’ll gladly take it. Will be available for download at iTunes & Amazon on January 25th with physical copies to be available for purchase shortly after. I’ll have a review up for it sometime next week.

Stryper – The Covering (February)
Originally scheduled for the end of 2010, it was pushed back supposedly in order to increase awareness for the album. Even though it’s an album of covers, they’ve picked some good songs and the samples sound great.

Whitesnake – Forevermore (March)
Sure to be another highlight of the year for me. Good to Be Bad is one of my favorite Whitesnake albums and Coverdale has basically said Forevermore will be more of the same because he thinks they found the right balance of all eras of Whitesnake with that record. I couldn’t agree more.

Sixx A.M. This Is Gonna Hurt (April)
I’m a huge Nikki Sixx fan. I’ve loved all the new Crue material since Red, White & Crue and the first Sixx A.M. album was pretty good. James Michael is also a fantastic vocalist and is a great songwriter/producer. This one should be a winner.

Alice CooperWelcome 2 My Nightmare (AKA – Welcome to My Nightmare II)
2010 looked to be a lock for new Alice. He was already in the middle of writing the album but then hooked up with Bob Ezrin again and they decided to do a Welcome to My Nightmare sequel. The album Alice had originally planned was called The Night Shift and here are his own words on that project, taken from the Toronto Sun newspaper back in April:

“Ten songs are written already. It’s going to be called The Night Shift. The concept is, it’s a really dark radio show where I’m the disc jockey, and every song I play will be by a different fictitious band. At some point, you’ll realize this disc jockey is a little bit more than that. And I’m sure there will be some kind of a twist ending.”

I’m not sure if The Night Shift and Welcome 2 My Nightmare (the rumored title) are two totally separate projects or if Alice & Bob have decided to absorb the ideas from Night Shift into Welcome 2.

My first Saxon album was Into the Labyrinth and I liked it a lot. Supposedly a new one should be coming this year…

Megadeth (Spring?)
New Megadeth is always a highlight for me, I was disappointed by Endgame but I think the band is gonna go out on a high note with their last album on Roadrunner. I think the band goes into the studio to record in February, so I’m guessing Spring 2011 is the release.

KISS (Summer?)
Easily the most anticipated release of the year for me. Sonic Boom was great and I was very happy to hear both Gene & Paul state in various interviews that a new album would be arriving on 2011. They wouldn’t do it if they couldn’t make money off of it (which had been a concern for years) so I guess Sonic Boom was very profitable for them. I know another tour is gonna start up in the summer so I’m guessing the release will be happening around then.

Riot (Spring)
So happy to hear that Riot is back to work on a new album. I just got into them a little over a year ago but quickly snatched up most of their albums. I haven’t heard a bad Riot album yet and this particular album reunites the Thundersteel line-up.

Skull Fist
They put out a great little EP in 2010, a full album should be even better.

Adler’s Appetite

A few songs from the forthcoming album can now be bought on iTunes and Amazon and they sound really good. I’ve had a good feeling about this album for a long time. It’s exactly what I was expecting — fun rock ‘n’ roll that stays true to Steven’s GNR roots and classic rock-influences.

AnvilJuggernaut of Justice (Spring)
Anvil is always good for some solid heavy metal. It’s a shame it’s taken them this long to release it though.

Quiet Riot
So there’s a new singer and Frankie Banali has been given the blessing of the DuBrow family to continue on with QR. If it’s good enough for Kevin’s mom then it’s good enough for me! Mark Huff sounds pretty close to DuBrow and I know they’ve been re-recording some QR classics but I’m hoping there’s going to be some new material too.

Still Waiting For… (albums originally scheduled for 2010)

AnthraxWorship Music
Originally planned for 2009! The band has gone through three different singers since then and went back to tweaking the album with Belladonna on vocals.

Peter Criss
At the end of 2009, Peter said he’d have an rock album coming out in Spring 2010 but I haven’t heard anything since. Maybe he’ll do what Ace did and release his solo album about the same time KISS releases their new album.

RIOT – Nightbreaker

Riot – Nightbreaker (2002, CD-Maximum – Russian Import)
Original Release: 1993, Sony Music Japan

1. “Soldier” … 4:54
2. “Destiny” … 4:42
3. “Burn” … 6:01
4. “In Your Eyes” …4:34
5. “Nightbreaker” … 4:12
6. “Medicine Man” … 5:36
7. “Silent Scream” … 5:07
8. “Magic Maker” … 5:10
9. “I’m On The Run” … 4:56
10. “Babylon” … 5:05
11. “Outlaw” … 6:14

Mike DiMeo – Vocals
Mark Reale – Guitar
Mike Flyntz – Guitar
Pete Perez – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums

Producer: Steve Loeb

Those Riot boys are back at it again delivering even more great heavy metal to the masses (or Japan and Europe, at least)! It still boggles the mind that these guys aren’t heavy metal legends after delivering great album after great album since 1977!

This album didn’t get a U.S. release until 1999 under the Metal Blade label (which featured the bonus track “Faded Hero”), but was originally released in Japan in ’93 (featuring the bonus track “Black Mountain Woman”), then Europe in ’94 (which features “I’m On The Run” as a replacement for the Procul Harum cover “A White Shade of Pale”, which is available on the Japan and U.S. pressings). My particular copy is a Russian reissue from 2002. I almost thought I would never have this album. It seemed to be out-of-print and everywhere I looked online it was crazy expensive then I came across and was ecstatic find buy a brand new copy at a good price.

All three versions have a different cover, none of which make much sense in relation to the album’s title. The European covering featuring the shark is easily the best though and is pretty cool but it looks like something Great White would use. It’s a shame this album didn’t get a U.S. release sooner, but given the sound of the album, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference considering the musical climate at the time.

With Nightbreaker, we once again hear a new vocalist — Mike DiMeo. He has an excellent set of pipes and is a great replacement for the departing Tony Moore. They both have similar styles.

Riot is so good, I haven’t heard a bad album from them yet, but Nightbreaker is truly one of their elite releases. It continues the path of melodic heavy metal that Mark Reale started taking the band in with the last effort, The Privilege of Power. Riot always does great ballads and “In Your Eyes” is no exception, then you’ve got heavy metal numbers like “Nightbreaker” and “Destiny” where Mark Reale gets to show off as the guitar virtuoso that he is. There’s even a pretty good cover of Deep Purple’s “Burn” and Riot covers themselves with “Outlaw”, which was originally released on Fire Down Under way back in 1981. I happen to prefer this updated version.

If you’re a Riot fan, this is a must have!

Highlights: “Soldier”, “Destiny”, “In Your Eyes”, “Nightbreaker”, “Magic Maker”, “Outlaw”

RIOT – The Privilege of Power

Riot – The Privilege of Power [Remastered] (2003, Sony Music/Collectables Records)
Original Release: 1990, CBS Records

1. “On Your Knees” … 6:37
2. “Metal Soldiers” … 6:40
3. “Runaway” … 5:11
4. “Killer” … 4:53
5. “Dance of Death” … 7:17
6. “Storming the Gates of Hell” … 3:43
7. “Maryanne” … 4:55
8. “Little Miss Death” … 4:12
9. “Black Leather and Glittering Steel” … 7:07
10. “Racing with the Devil on a Spanish Highway” … 7:17

Tony Moore – Vocals
Mark Reale – Guitar
Don Van Stavern – Bass
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Joe Lynn Turner – Vocals (“Killer”)

Producer: Steve Loeb, Mark Reale and Rod Hui

After frequent changes in style (NWOBHM, southern fried hard rock, heavy metal, power metal) over the span of four albums, Riot founder and guitarist Mark Reale finally settles in and keeps The Privilege of Power in the same realm as Thundersteel though it is a bit more melodic at times. Vocalist Tony Moore (my favorite singer Riot has had) really delivers all throughout the album.

The album is not without a few odd choices though. Virtually every song has the annoying habit of some audio clips and sound effects from news and movies and whatnot. It really disrupts the flow of the album when all I wanna do is hear the music. I suppose there was some statement behind all of this about society, government and the power of television and maybe if they did it for one or two songs, that’d be okay, but this is overkill.

It is a full FORTY-SIX SECONDS before the music starts playing on the first track and for a few more seconds after that, the sound is purposefully muffled. That’s inexcusable for a heavy metal album! If someone was so insistent on these weird intros, they should’ve just made them outros (or better yet, their own tracks) so that as soon as you hit play or skip tracks you get to hear MUSIC.

Another oddity is the use of horns throughout the album. Sometimes it works and sometimes it sounds out of place. But hey — if Aerosmith could do it, why not Riot ?

Getting on with what is good about this album is we still get plenty of speed and power metal moments that stand up to anything done on the excellent Thundersteel album. “Metal Soldiers” is a great anthem and “Black Leather and Glittering Steel” is a fantastic speed metal number where Tony gets to do what he does best. “Dance of Death” is a strong power metal number.

There are also a number of melodic moments (foreshadowing yet another change in direction for the band). “Maryanne” sounds like something out of the pop-metal scene crossed with Boston (the band, not the city) and the guitar work on “Little Miss Death” reminds me of Michael Schenker Group. “Killer” (accompanied by horns) features Joe Lynn Turner on vocals.

Horns and interludes aside, this is another great Riot release featuring a nice blend of heavy metal and melodic hard rock. Too bad it would be Moore’s last album with the band and he would not return to sing for the group until 2008 (then left again in 2009).

Highlights: “Metal Soldiers”, “Runaway”, “Dance of Death”, “Maryanne”, “Little Miss Death”, “Black Leather and Glittering Steel”

RIOT – Born in America

Riot – Born in America [Remastered] (1999, Metal Blade Records)
Original Release: 1983, Quality Records

1. “Born in America” … 4:07
2. “You Burn in Me” … 3:40
3. “Wings of Fire” … 4:39
4. “Running From the Law” … 4:24
5. “Devil Woman” … 4:01
6. “Vigilante Killer” … 3:02
7. “Heavy Metal Machine” … 3:37
8. “Where Soldiers Rule” … 3:45
9. “Gunfighter” … 4:27
10. “Promised Land” … 3:55

Rhett Forrester – Vocals
Mark Reale – Guitar
Rick Ventura – Guitar
Kip Leming – Bass
Sandy Slavin – Drums

Producer: Steve Loeb with Rod Hui

There’s nothing at all wrong with Riot’s previous album, Restless Breed (in fact, it’s a very good release), but Born in America is more my speed. It’s another shift in sound as Riot gets back to playing METAL instead of Southern-fried hard rock and I’m all for it. Rhett Forrester is still around on vocals (though this would be his last album with the band), but this time he actually wails and screams like all heavy metal warrior should! Didn’t know you had it in you, Rhett!

By this point, the major labels were done with Riot and they found themselves on Quality Records, so yet again, we’ve got another great Riot album that went unnoticed (not that the majors ever helped the band in the first place). Riot sunk into inactivity after this release and it would be five years until Mark Reale (who is an underrated guitar player and song writer, IMO) staged a comeback with a brand new Riot line-up for the excellent Thundersteel. Despite the gap in time, in many ways Born in America is very close to the power metal the band would play on Thundersteel.

We get the usual awful Riot album art. There’s an alternate version featuring a close up of a girl’s torso while wearing a white t-shirt that says “RIOT” on it. That’s the version I thought I was getting when I ordered this album online because it was the picture shown. That cover is pretty bad also, looking like some indie hair band album cover.

On a sad note, in 1994 Rhett Forrester was a victim of a carjacking in Atlanta, Georgia and was fatally shot. I can think of no better way for his spirit to live on than through some of the great music he helped create.

Highlights: “Born in America”, “You Burn in Me”, “Devil Woman”, “Heavy Metal Machine”, “Where Soldiers Rule”, “Gunfighter”

RIOT – Restless Breed

Riot – Restless Breed [Remastered] (1999, Metal Blade Records)
Original Release: 1982, Elektra Records

1. “Hard Lovin’ Man” … 2:48
2. “C.I.A.” … 3:45
3. “Restless Breed” … 5:11
4. “When I Was Young” … 3:25
5. “Loanshark” … 4:10
6. “Loved By You” … 5:37
7. “Over To You” … 5:37
8. “Showdown” … 3:49
9. “Dream Away” … 3:43
10. “Violent Crimes” … 2:30

Rhett Forrester – Vocals
Mark Reale – Guitar
Rick Ventura – Guitar
Kip Leming – Bass
Sandy Slavin – Drums

Producer: Steve Loeb and Billy Arnell

With original Riot vocalist Guy Speranza departing due to moral and/or drug addiction issues, the band shifts from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal sound of Fire Down Under to an all-American metal mix of blues, boogie and southern rock. No doubt, a change that was inspired by (or mandated) by the band’s new singer, Georgia-born Rhett Forrester (who I actually prefer as a vocalist over Speranza). It’s an interesting leap in sub-genres and the band is obviously going for a more commercial sound relying more on hard rock than heavy metal.

When I first bought this, after having heard Fire Down Under and Thundersteel, I wasn’t impressed. It just wasn’t as heavy or as fast as I wanted it to be. It’s a different sounding album for sure, but still an enjoyable one upon closer inspection. I’ve given this album tons of spins since buying and it’s grown on me to the point where I this this is yet another underrated album from an underrated band. I just can’t understand why the labels couldn’t break this band.

My favorite tracks are “Restless Breed” (which sounds like Riot doing their best version of Bad Company) and “Showdown”.

Another awful Riot cover, by the way. For awhile, I didn’t “get it”, but I guess it’s supposed to be showing the evolution of their mascot from the cover of Fire Down Under. Of course, it’s also symbolism for the band itself evolving.

Highlights: “Hard Lovin’ Man”, “C.I.A.”, “Restless Breed”, “Loved By You”, “Showdown”

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