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Inishmore 90's Metal Was Like This - 86%

Tanuki, March 1st, 2019

And so Mark Reale and his pertinacious pinnipeds marched bravely on through the 90's, never once entertaining the idea of surrendering to the cruel and equally persistent decade. It was a classic case of an immovable object against an unstoppable farce. As impressive as Riot's resistence was, in a time when just about every metal icon was commercializing themselves into oblivion, it did result in something of a holding pattern for the band. Let's not have any debate here, most every DiMeo-era Riot album sounds pretty damn similar. Not identical, mind you, because how else could Inishmore completely smoke the others?

Yes, for my money, this is both Mike DiMeo's crowning achievement and Riot's best 90's album... if it wasn't for the nigh untouchable Privilege of Power released in the early weeks of 1990. Tough break on that one, DiMeo. Nonetheless, Inishmore contains vividly expressive songwriting that not only breaks free from the predictable shackles of Nightbreaker, but also makes the most of DiMeo's established range. The chorus of 'Turning the Hands of Time' is the greatest example of this, emphasized by percolating vocal harmonies and Yoko Kayumi's beautiful violin sweeps. Violin accoutrement is one of this album's many unique selling points, in addition to effective female backing vocals.

These are implemented to a great degree in the joyous 'Watching the Signs'. A memorable, harmonized guitar lead propels this jaunty number, and is also home to a real sleeper hit amongst Reale's infinite expanse of marvellous guitar solos; I have no doubt the idealistic undertones of this piece was the inspiration for later Riot V affair like 'Take Me Back' and 'Ready to Shine'. And when this album isn't inspiring future albums, it's taking inspiration from some of Riot's best. Throughout 'Angel Eyes', DiMeo's gravelly tenor is amply supported by the soulful pipes of Ligaya Perkins, while the acrobatic riff cartwheeling behind the scenes sounds straight out of Thundersteel.

Even 'The Man' has a go at rekindling some of Riot's bluesy influence, albeit through a decidedly ostentatious lens of modern power metal. When you get down to brass tacks, there's a remarkable, almost unbelievable lack of filler throughout the fifty minutes of Inishmore. If anything, 'Kings Are Falling' and 'Gypsy' are both on the weaker side, in no small part due to their repetition and lack of spice. 'Gypsy' is at least rescued by an intriguingly syncopated prechorus, but 'Kings Are Falling' is afforded no such grace, sounding a bit like Pegazus on an off-day. Which is just wrong.

The satisfyingly chunky production seals the deal; Inishmore's not only well written and well performed, but well engineered as well. Most albums released in 1998, both in terms of songwriting and production, tend to be products of their time. What better band than Riot to make an exception to this rule? There's a certain aura of grace and agelessness surrounding Inishmore, similar to that mystical, sparkling sea beautifully captured in its cover... Nah, only kidding, the album art stinks. But don't let that turn you away. I mean, you gave Fire Down Under a chance, didn't you?

Lacks potential... - 79%

PowerMetalGuardian, August 22nd, 2003

Inishmore is a very powerful Riot album, but definitely not one of the best. The name sounds Celtic or Irish amd the opening track Black Water really gives it this Irish feel with the fiddle. It starts off powerful and lands a good impression, which however does not last. As it seemes, the song slows down, and thus the second track Angel Eyes is seems slow, though it is probably the fastest song on the album.

Music wise, the guitar riffs and licks are good, but one song sounds like the other on this album. And only a couple are actually memorable. Some songs have riffs that will put a 2 year old to sleep, while other songs have enough power to keep you up ready to rock, but not to headbang. Such songs would be Kings Are Falling and Should I Run. If you really want to see how slow and melodic this album is check out the song Watching the Signs. It has an awsome opening lick that is beautifully harmonized, but to melodic for my blood. Almost sounds like a song from a Japanese game I used to play on the Sega Genesis.


Another negative to this album is the singer's vocals. Lets just say Riot has had better singers in the past. He isn't bad at all, he just sounds like a typical singer and doesn't add anything to his vocals to make a good lasting impression. The only song he really shines out on is Inishmore (Forsaken Heart), and probably because the song isn't heavy at all, more quite, powerful, and choir like.

This album is good, I am not knocking it what so ever, but it could have been so much better. You have this awsome opening track that sets the mood real high, but then you have a bunch of fillers, maybe two or three real good songs. Then you end it with two songs Inishmore (Forsaken Heart), which is only a minute long, but reflects the theme that was placed in the opening track. Then the last track, Inishmore, which once again plays this theme with a heavier set. If all the songs would have related to a theme or would have been heavier paced leaving a better impression - then this album would have been gold. A good melodic metal album...if you dig that kind of stuff!

Nicely done melodic power metal - 75%

UltraBoris, August 21st, 2002

Riot manages to accomplish something here that's quite hard - a heavy metal album that manages to exhibit ownage without resorting to complete riff bludgeonry. "Eternal Nightmare" this is not, or "Thundersteel" for that matter. This is, rather, a power metal album that is completely melodic without becoming flowery. The guitar work is excellent, and the riffs definitely stand out and are memorable, and are not lost in wankery or 480 beat-per-minute flowery geigh Sonata Craptica horseshit.

Most of the songs here are of the same general style. We start with "Angel Eyes", which is the fastest song on here, and probably the heaviest - and also it has a really cool Judas Priest styled solo in the middle, courtesy of guitar wizard Mark Reale. Mike DiMeo's vocals are neither shrieky nor over the top, but his ability to sing is unquestioned.

We get to the rest of the album, which is consistently solid. Every song here is memorable in its own way, and the highlights are probably "Kings are Falling", and "Turning the Hands of Time". The last song, "Inishmore" is a ballad that also contains some of the best guitar work on the album.

Overall, this is one of those "Hanging in the Balance" styled albums - a lot of the time, that just doesn't work, unless you have the quality of songwriting to back up the lack of complete bludgeonry. This album definitely does.