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This is the last offering by pioneering New York based heavy metal act Riot, and it is purely a product of its time. 1983 saw an increased interest in both cock rock outfits such as Dokken over in LA, and slightly more early rock inspired outfits such as the Scorpions. Much of the songs reflect this trend in the music scene, particularly in the lead guitar department which is loaded with catchy harmonized parts in many of the slower rock songs, in addition to more overt shredding during the solos.
Rhett Forester’s singing on here is not quite as over-the-top as it was on “Restless Breed”, although album opener “Born in America”, “Vigilante Killer” and “Heavy Metal Machine” have some hit or miss attempts at emulating Ian Gillian. When he sings clean he sounds better and actually quite a bit similar to Tony Moore, who helped turned Riot’s late 80s/early 90s stuff into the revolutionary fits of artistic genius that they ultimately became.
The guitar has morphed a bit on here in the lead department, resulting in something that is a bit more hook oriented than even their late 70s material. “You burn in me” has a highly hook oriented harmonized intro that reminds a bit of the stuff found on the Scorpions’ album “Black Out”, which came out the year before. The guitar soloing on such songs as “Heavy Metal Machine” and “Vigilante” see a large amount of fret board tapping and a slight tinge towards a George Lynch sound.
The best songs on here are the ones that are the most removed from the cock rock sound that has snuck its way into this portion of Riot’s history. “Wings of Fire” has a haunting acoustic intro with some synthesizer sound in the background, followed by an up tempo set of killer riffing and drum madness. This song is essentially the musical ancestor of Thundersteel’s classic track “Bloodstreets”. “Where Soldiers Rule” has a solid horse galloping flow and the best vocal performance out of Forester. This one is probably the closest to the older Riot that originally pioneered this sound, although the atmosphere is quite a bit heavier and the guitar sound is reminiscent of Accept.
For the potential buyer, this is the weakest album that I have heard put out by the band and the reason is that they don’t sound like themselves. When one thinks of a band name like Riot, one does not picture a band prancing around with more lipstick on than their girlfriends, one thinks of a traditional heavy metal band that rocks hard and moves fast. This album has almost no speed to it at all, although in terms of technical prowess this album is the most guitar-oriented of the older stuff. It comes recommended at a reduced price of $9 or less, it isn’t bad, but it’s not them either.