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How to Start a Riot - 85%

Tanuki, November 13th, 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, I am hungry. My mouth's watering, my stomach's making noises like Chris Barnes trying to sing 'Back in Black', and it's all because my Riot appetizer has arrived: Platefuls of piping hot guitar leads, the sweet and spicy vocals of Guy Speranza, and riffs thick and greasy enough to close a gorilla's arteries. And yet, perversely, I feel the need to start things off with a less appetizing topic - metal mascots. Everyone has their favorite; I'd wager Eddie is the most popular, followed by Snaggletooth, Rattlehead, Doro's abs, Chaly... maybe Jorn's man-raven thing, if you're weird. Finally, somewhere toward the bottom of this list, we have Riot's very own "Johnny" the harbor seal.

Having a burly, half-naked seal man represent your band is a surefire way to get Japan interested, but no one else. Riot and the land of the rising sun have a mutual lack of respect for subtlety, and the band has been "big in Japan" ever since. Sweetening the deal further was 1977's Rock City being built around the immortal blues metal paradigm of Deep Purple In Rock, and even ventures into Rainbow Rising territory with mystical gallops like in 'Heart of Fire'. Considering the massive success of Deep Purple's Made in Japan and Rainbow's Live on Stage, 1976, Japan taking a shine to these brash New Yorkers was a foregone conclusion.

Whether it's the iconic 'Warrior' lighting up the sky with shredding solos and power metal vocals lightyears ahead of their time, or the steamy chorus of 'Overdrive' making us sweat in a sauna of blues licks and purring choirs, Rock City is a very, very unsubtle album that pulls no punches. 'Heart of Fire' is more blatantly whorish than most metal songs that were deliberately trying to provoke the PMRC; the steamy raunch imbued into this track makes it hard to believe Speranza left the music business for religious reasons. The same could be said of nearly every other aspect of this album; it's an uncompromising, unadulterated dynamo powered by nuclear musk.

I say 'nearly' because I can't in good conscience ignore the commercial courtesans 'Tokyo Rose' and 'This Is What I Get'. These comparitively sappy major-scale rockers are virtually interchangeable, and both remind me of the weaker moments from Saxon's 'fritzy' self-titled album like 'Big Teaser'. I pardoned the sacharrine songs on one debut album written in the genre's infancy, so I think I can extend the same mercy to the other. Especially since 'Tokyo Rose' actually manages to offer some catchy hooks in the midst of its Toys in the Attic coattail riding.

After handwaving these hiccups and the abominable 70's vocoder effects that may generously be cited as "products of their time", you're left with a rock-solid prologue to Riot's immortal legacy. Daring, bold, and remarkably similar to their later output, so much so that 'Warrior' doesn't stick out in live setlists to this very day, Rock City makes for an excellent first stepping stone that I could recommend to anyone capable of ignoring bad cover art. Honestly, I may use that sentence to end every Riot review from here on out. Except Sons of Society. That cover rules.

A Widely Memorable Debut - 86%

ballcrushingmetal, July 25th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1993, CD, Metal Blade Records (Reissue, Remastered)

Riot remained for a couple of decades as a silent inventor. Due to the limited distribution of their early releases (basically, they did not sell their stuff outside of Japan), many metal fanatics were not able to realize that the New York-based band have already created certain things believed to see the light in the early/mid-80s. For instance, these guys were playing power metal stuff at least seven years before the date in which fanatics praised the German act Helloween as the official creators of power metal (not to mention that they were a symbol in the USPM scene two years before said creation took place). Moreover, certain riffs made famous by Iron Maiden were part of Riot's compositions (for further details, refer to "Swords and Tequila") at least three years before.

That said, since the outset, their sound was considered as one of the heaviest in the decade, alongside other relevant names like Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and Judas Priest (Motörhead also released their debut in 1977). Such recognition was fairly afforded to Riot, considering how their sound transitioned from the hard rockish blueprint set by Boston and Thin Lizzy to a more intense style, reaching its peak with "Warrior". That classic "Rainbow meets Thin Lizzy" number is part of the power metal stuff played by the band in their albums and is indeed an anthem that persisted as part of the band's live set. The chorus is pretty much a sing-along part, and part of it ("Shine, shine on...") is a widely memorable phrase among the fanatics.

Contrasting the aforementioned song, the rest of the album is more focused on the hard rock influences that made up the band's trademark sound; however, at some point, it becomes somehow heavier, allowing the listener to experiment harsher and louder riffs, as well as more insane drumming. Something that surpassed the hard rock line, and was a bit ahead of their time if compared to the bands influencing their sound. More so, it would not be out of place in the NWOBHM, except for the fact that this is not a British band.

Generally speaking, there are no complaints on the band's performance and their songwriting skills; however, some improvements would be foreseen in subsequent releases, reaching the pinnacle for at least a couple of times in the 80's. But at this point, the formation seemed to be solid with the presence of the talented legendary vocalist Guy Speranza, as well as the always remembered Mark Reale and L.A. Kouvaris on guitars. Given the circumstances surrounding the album, finding a copy is such a privilege that few may be able to obtain; nevertheless, your search should not stop here.

You can also read this review in the Antichrist Magazine
http://antichristmagazine.com/review-riot-rock-city-1977/

A shot across the bow - 90%

dfry, May 8th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1993, CD, Metal Blade Records (Reissue, Remastered)

The name of the band comes from the old Honeymooners TV show, a group of New York kids that came together through neighborhood block parties. Some producer’s girlfriend thought a baby seal (of all things) would be the perfect mascot, fighting back from decades of poaching and clubbing. Thus, Riot was born, the ultimate underdog band, and a name that would become synonymous with quality metal and constant war with record labels.

The debut just steamrolls along, the band shit-hot, efficiently recorded in a few days. Twin guitars swell, rise, and chime like bells. Guy Speranza’s sunny vocals frost every song with memorable and distinct melodies, the perfect foil to the raging, speeding guitars of Reale and Kouvaris.

“Warrior” just glows with energy, a huge chorus and a classic guitar solo. “Overdrive” blasts along with badass slide guitar like a speedfreak take on the old Edgar Winter stuff. The combination of fast-paced, guitar charisma and hopelessly addictive choruses never let up as the album plays out, the radiant guitar tone in “Tokyo Rose” and the cowbell-smashing closer “This is What I Get” both gems in an album overflowing with highlights.

The production is reminiscent of west coast 70s biker rock, as opposed to speeding NYC street metal, but the heaviness would be cranked up for subsequent releases, the first era of the band never compromising quality over sound. Rock City is a shot across the bow, a fiery metallic nugget announcing to the world that there is a new band to get behind in 1977: Riot.

Rock And Roll Angels Born To Swing! - 93%

CHAIRTHROWER, July 12th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1993, CD, Metal Blade Records (Reissue, Remastered)

After purveying the Archives write-ups for Riot's 1977 debut, the iconic Rock City, I felt like a knife had been plunged in my bereaved heart but not because of any ill-written reviews (to the contrary, I found them objective, concise and earnest, all great qualities) which waver below the coveted 90% mark. No, my friends, it's just I believe the NWOBHM-ish New Yorkers deserve higher in regards to what's probably my favorite Riot album (even more so than the great "Fire Down Under" from 1981). When I first heard this congenial, "feel good" classic rock gem I knew my days of self-deprecating and perjorative animosity were over. I finally realized "hard" music needn't be limited to dark surroundings and themes evocative of Old Scratch and the occult (remember, up to this point I'd been weaned on Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Pentagram and the like) or overtly lewd overtures inherent to the 70s (indeed, Riot is one of those rare wholesome outfits the whole family can enjoy!). Rock City made me realize it could, alternatively, allude to carefree, invigorating feelings of good cheer and laid-back living, as proven by soul-lifting Riot staples such as "Rock City" proper, "Angel", "Tokyo Rose" and "Gypsy Queen", all sure-fire game-changers in this right.

Admittedly, one particular track, "Overdrive", alludes to a "bump n' grind" pick-up scene with lines such as "Can you hear my wheels begin to squeal?" and the raunchier "I'm gonna make my pistons pump / Right through the roof" but this is akin to the token boob shot in National Lampoon's European Vacation, an otherwise tame flick by all accounts. Besides, these "loving" metaphors are done in a classy, tasteful way which leans more towards harmless hyperbole rather than sexed-up soliloquy.

Moving forward, I'd compare Riot to Boston giants Aerosmith - the title track, with its bluesy, back & forth swinging riff and 50s style soloing, especially instills this - but without all the ubiquitous, horny chutzpah. Plus, (and no disrespect to Joe Perry) I'm much more taken by Mark Reale's (RIP) innumerably intricate guitar riffs and loud & proud, innovative solos than the former's slightly generic overtures (punch me if you wish, I don't care). Front man Guy Speranza (RIP) exudes a genial, down-to-earth vibe which (again, no disrespect) a flamboyant Steven Tyler lacks in spades. He just sounds so...jolly. That is, content with his honest delivery and role within the band, while unafraid to push his boundaries, as he does on said "Overdrive" where he favours a greasier (and slightly raunchy like I said) Tank-like edge. Reale also cranks things up a notch on this "car stereo cruising" track. As for Reale's barn-burning solo, it's sure to get the 'ol juices flowin' - you know what I mean!

Speaking of which, "Angel" is another boxy Aerosmith-esque, heady rocker thanks to Reale's swing-boogie rhythms and unabated Chuck Berry style blues solos. Here's another suggestive stanza (well, the chorus really) where you might want to cover the kids' ears:

"You're an angel with a broken wing,
You're an angel who was born to, born to swing.
Oooh yeah, I feel like a dog in heat.
Oooh yeah, I got a fire burning under my feet."

It's all in good fun. Then you've something older fogeys (i.e. the parents?) will appreciate, the Simon & Garfunkel-ish "Tokyo Rose" which borders on "Sweet" style coyness while also packing a heck of wallop when, fifty seconds in, the kid gloves come off as the boys from the Big Apple turn this innocuous sounding pseudo-ballad into a veritable hard-driving dirge of well-poised power chords and slick revolving leads. Alternating between light-hearted and much heavier moments, "Tokyo Rose" always puts me in a good mood. "Heart Of Fire" and "Gypsy Queen" fall along similar lines as the aforementioned tracks while my bona fide go-to tracks would be the first two, "Desperation" and "Warrior" (which is on par guitar wise with Wishbone Ash's similarly titled track from 1972).

As soon as the former (and also Rock City's opening track) kicks off, I'm instantly rapt thanks to Jimmy Iommi's - yes, the illustrious Tony Iommi's brother! - super plump bass line underlying Reale and fellow axe-man L.A. Kouvaris' energizing ZZ Top/ La Grange evoking upstrokes. On this track especially, Iommi's quirky little bass fills can be distinctly heard, notably at 0:34 and two minutes in right before Reale's kick-ass scorcher of a solo. He definitely brought his A-Game to the table on these two, especially on the Groundhogs sounding "Warrior", at 01:20. In fact, this last is one of my favourite solos of all time. It's got the same mind-blowing spontaneity and drive as another humdinger I can think of, the one from Lucifer's Friend's "Hey Driver" from its Mean Machine LP from 1981. As for drummer, Peter Bitelli, he proves the perfect counter-point to Iommi's vividly enthusiastic bass playing. Whether it's on harder rocking tracks (as the four making up Riot City's first half) or the tamer "Tokyo Rose", Bitelli conservatively but adroitly cruises alongside his festive band mates. Album closer "This Is What I Get" (For Loving You) is borderline fey but by no means a flop, and makes for a graceful (albeit mellow) finish to Riot's - what do you know! - 40 year old classic, "heavy rock" masterpiece.

That said, if you belatedly hopped on the Riot bandwagon, thereby missing the first stop which is Rock City, by all means do yourself a favour and backtrack in order to give it a whirl. You'll be happy you did.

"Get ready, stand steady,
We're gonna shoot you full of Rock 'n Roll.
You're goin' crazy, don't be lazy,
Ah, the boys are losin' control...

...Get ready, stand steady,
The boys are on the run tonight.
The next town we'll be getting down,
We're gonna rock 'till broad daylight."

Rocking with a killer baby seal. - 84%

hells_unicorn, July 24th, 2012

There is a strong level of incredulity that all but must come with looking back at the early works of a heavy metal mainstay, particularly if they cross back to before the time when the genre had yet to fully separate itself from its hard rock roots. Among the more blatant examples of a now well-respected metallic outfit simply conforming to the practices of a different time are the very early works of Manilla Road, Motorhead’s debut album, and that of Judas Priest’s often overlooked “Rocka Rolla”. Nevertheless, for a real mind trip, a venture back into any or Ronnie Dio’s pre-Rainbow era will showcase a very different mentality, though his late 1950s doo-wop projects would probably turn the most heads given their dangerously close proximity in sound to the likes of Buddy Holly and Pat Boone (ergo a Ronnie that had yet to develop that gritty tenor that since became his staple).

It’s always good to keep in mind the time of a given album, be it Ronnie Dio’s old fashioned 50s ode to puppy love “An Angel Is Missing” in comparison to his 80s and 90s works, of the hard rocking debut of Riot after a healthy dose of “Thundersteel”. While Riot’s debut album carries with it a long time speed metal staple “Warrior” which has since enjoyed a good deal of modernization in subsequent live performances by the band themselves, let alone the much heavier interpretation recently conjured up by Axel Rudi Pell, the truth of “Rock City” is much closer to the title and campy 70s rock imagery than what the band has since come to symbolize. Then again, what can anyone expect from the era before such delights as Judas Priest’s “Exciter” and Motorhead’s “Overkill” but a rocking formula that has more to do with Boston, Steve Miller Band, Kiss, Ted Nugent, and all the other big acts that were burning up the charts at the time?

To be clear, this is probably among the harder rocking albums to hit the scene circa 1977, as it’s a bit faster and tighter than what was typical of the time. Particularly when considering the chugging, yet still mildly bluesy approach of “Overdrive” and “Angel”, two songs that are just a bit too percussive and Sabbath-like in their approach for AC/DC, yet nowhere near as dark sounding. The feel is further lightened by the vocal work of Guy Speranza, a singer that has much more in common with Tommy Shaw and Brad Delp than he does Ozzy Osbourne. Nevertheless, when focusing exclusively on the guitar work of a very young and lively Mark Reale (my he rest in peace), it’s clear that this is an album with an eye to the future, though obviously latched in pretty strongly to present practices, including a talk-box guitar thrill ride in “Heart Of Fire” that was likely inspired by Peter Frampton and Steve Miller.

Perhaps the best caveat to attach to this kind of an album is that it tends to make one smile rather than enlist emotions of irreverence and angst like the subsequent punk rock scene, thus culminating in the pissed off early 80s drag queen persona of Dee Snyder and Twisted Sister. At times, more particularly on the songs “This Is What I Get” and “Tokyo Rose” things are steeped in a commercial, arena oriented approach that would likely bring to mind images of early Styx (minus the keyboards), or even the Boston debut (minus the slick guitar sound and layered vocal harmonies). However, this isn’t the sort of sound that should be shunned even by the modern metal fanatic, as they do provide something of a view of how bands like Accept and Saxon would transition into the early 80s metallic sound from their more hard rock oriented roots.

As with anything else, it is important to keep in mind that an album is what it is, and when it carries a title like “Rock City”, one should not expect the missing link between Sabbath and Venom. Still, within the context of a classic hard rock album, this is a cut above the rest, owing perhaps to its underground status at the time, allowing it to be controlled more by the band and less by some hotshot producer whose job it likely was to make sure that every rock album sounded exactly the same. It’s not too much of a far cry from where Riot would end up in the early to mid 80s, but it’s definitely in a very different era than that of this band after Tony Moore came into the fold, and that tends to be the starting point for most familiar with this band. But for those who have an interest in old school rock or a desire to delve into the history of metal’s origins, this is definitely a keeper.

"Shine, shine on, through the wind and the rain." - 85%

Xyston, July 6th, 2012

New York City’s Riot are undoubtedly one of the most underrated heavy metal bands, an especially unfortunate and incomprehensible fact when one carefully considers how early they emerged and how much excellent material they’ve released over decades. From their awe-inspiring masterpiece “Fire Down Under”, to their ingenious venture into an intensely power metal oriented sound on “Thundersteel”, Riot have succeeded many times at crafting powerful, memorable, consistent heavy metal. With “Rock City”, the band’s 1977 debut album, it’s clear that from the very beginning there was no lack of innovation or quality in their output; you can rest assured you’ll find tight songwriting, grand melodies, and a crisp, humbly technical performance.

Anyone interested in tracking down the earliest progenitors of heavy metal should be obligated to give “Rock City” a good listen, and it’s quite clear from the first few tracks that this was certainly not just another average, boring hard rock band from America. “Desperation” starts the album, with a pulsating rhythm combined with catchy melodies, nicely showcasing the band’s musicianship, particularly in the riff work. However, it’s the following track, “Warrior”, that truly exemplifies Riot’s innovative talent, as it’s easily one of the earliest examples of speed metal, and additionally, a proto-power metal gem. This song is complete with racing guitars, soaring vocals, an epic chorus, and classic, badass metal drumming – THIS was 1977? No fuckin’ way.

Moving on from the full-on metal onslaught that is “Warrior”, the title track presents a much more upbeat, rocky sounding Riot, but that makes sense since after all, it’s a song called “Rock City”. It’s unlikely Riot really were conscious of being a heavy metal band at the time, given the strong hard rock vibe on some songs here and the fact that the metal movement as a whole wouldn’t be born for a few more years. If there were few bands in Europe at this time writing music that was distinctly metal, or at least in a metal direction, you can sure as Hell bet that Riot were one of the very few doing this in North America. However, there’s certainly nothing wrong with the natural hard rock feel to some songs here. That’s actually precisely why this album tends to be so enjoyable, which is a trait that would still be found on the subsequent albums “Narita” and “Fire Down Under”. Songs like “Angel” and “Heart of Fire” perfectly capture how Riot was starting to apply metal aesthetics (particularly in terms of tempo and rhythm) to a sound rooted in classic hard rock.

There are no soft moments or ballads to be found on “Rock City”. While we are treated to a more emotional, Thin Lizzy-ish piece with “Gypsy Queen”, overall the album is very energetic and the songs flow into each other nicely, following similar structures (minus “Warrior) and all having their fair share of catchy melodies channeled through a solid, thick guitar tone. Frontman Guy Speranza and guitarist Mark Reale (R.I.P. 2012) stand out in particular on this album; the former displays an absolutely badass mixture of swagger and technical proficiency, while the latter is simply the brains behind the operation. Mark is an excellent, dynamic player, and some of his most fiery leads can be found on “Overdrive”. The album concludes with “This Is What I Get” a pretty straightforward rocker that wraps things up nicely.

If you’re a fan of traditional heavy metal, hopefully you’re already familiar with Riot. But if you’re not, you’ve been missing out. While “Rock City” isn’t their best, it is still a great, innovative album. In 1977, few bands surpassed this level of heaviness, and songs like “Warrior” clearly demonstrate Riot’s early importance to the development of heavy metal. This is a great album to start with for anyone interested in discovering Riot, but for those tempted to hear what this formula sounds like perfected, then “Fire Down Under” would be the answer.

Stimulating the '70s learning curve - 85%

Gutterscream, May 16th, 2008
Written based on this version: 1977, 12" vinyl, Fire Sign Records

“…can you hear my wheels begin to burn?”

Debby Boone got best new artist. Her sap-encrusted song “You Light Up My Life” got song of the year. Other than that the year wasn’t too bad. Since it was on the small indie Fire Sign label, Riot’s debut didn’t get much exposure (same year albums from Thor, Quiet Riot, and Quartz had better distribution, yet how often do you see them?), and those who did find it probably weren’t too enamored with the axe-wielding seal on the cover (worst mascot ever?). Pretty sad, since Rock City jumps and moves better than two of those, maybe all three, but that’s not a new scene within the scene.

Much more interesting than it is often given credit for, Rock City isn’t one of those first album flubs the band wishes it could disown (no names mentioned). A passed-by contender to rock’s crown and easy vengeance on disco’s tiara, this represents the times well with hard-edged melody springing freshly oiled and vibrant in a rougher Boston sorta way as the quintet slaps us silly with multiple lessons in creating catchy, memorable riffs and song structures. But that leer at Boston isn’t exactly a correct one, ‘cos they sound really nothing alike, but maybe something in the coarser fuzz realm of Nugent or Montrose isn’t too far off, and Priest’s down-tempo Sin After Sin can seem old and oppressed in comparison…almost.

The fact is Riot make songwriting look easy here. With Rock City, we’re hearing that ‘new band with eyes a’gleamin’’ motivation that’s so fun to witness, and it doesn’t matter if you were around when it got shipped for the first time or dusted it off from a used bin 20 years later. I mean, Christ, it wasn’t pressed so long before the ‘80s that you can’t feel metal’s baby breath in there somewhere, and with the pre-dawn speed metal-like wit of “Warrior” and lesser “Overdrive”, you don’t have to dig tunnels to find it. It’s pure rock of course (don’tcha hate it when writers add the era there, as in pure ‘70s rock, as if by ’77 it’s gonna be anything else – in fact, for me to even have to mention that it is rock is pretty stupid), and please don’t be surprised by the light commercial chalk outlining much of this (thickest around love song ender “This is What I Get”), ‘cos it only seems to enhance the lp’s contagion. News to those that think all heavy music from this colorful decade is crusted yellow and expired like old denture cream: this is one of your sought after exceptions. Its unexpectedly animated production won’t allow it to be, nor will musicianship that’s sharp and lively and spins neurons with songcraft dreadfully swift on the uptake, meanwhile Guy Speranza’s vocals are clear, strong, ranged medium-high, and ideal for this size and shape endeavor.

Burly “Heart of Fire”…anxious “Angel”…airborne “Gypsy Queen”… anthem-in-training title cut…including the closer, there really isn’t a bad song on here, and in this respect as well reminds me of Boston’s year old debut. Rock City and Riot wear their age wrinkles well, better so than Debby.

Overlooked and underrated!! - 75%

Valleys_Of_Hades, December 2nd, 2005

Riot’s 1977 debut album was by far the hardest rocking thing in the states during its time. Honestly, these guys were like…the American version of Budgie or UFO. Yeah, I mean, while all the good stuff had been going on over in Europe for nearly a decade, America had been hit with the crap, or the hippy music as most may call it.
Obviously, one band was fed up with this bullshit. From the streets of New York came Riot, America’s hardest hitting group to ever grace the scene during the 70s and early 80s. Influenced by the likes of Budgie, UFO, Deep Purple and Judas Priest, Riot took the heaviness of those elements to a whole new level, while still maintaining an American hard rock sound in many ways.

Rock City wasn’t an album that was considered “radio friendly” back then. It still had this bluesy tone to it, yes, but with a hard and heavy metallic edge that was completely unheard of in the states at the time, with the exception of the European bands, of course. What you’ll find here is a great mix of early, pioneering Speed Metal from the 70s, hard rock, blues, and traces of NWOBHM influence sprinkled through out. Some people question as to whether this is a true Metal release or just a hard rock album that helped pioneer and entire genre of Metal. Well, in fact, it's both. A couple of the songs are without a doubt, pure Heavy Metal, while there are a few tracks here that are just on the sharper edge of hard rock. Some tunes, however...well, I'll let you decide that.

Although Riot would drastically expand musically and get heavier with later albums to come, Rock City is a complete mile stone for the American Metal scene. Pretty soon, you had other American Metal bands that followed, like Jag Panzer, Satan’s Host, Halloween, Omen, Savatage, Metal Church and the list can go on and on, BUT….Riot was pretty much the first American band to say “Fuck this corporate shit!”, relying solely on their foreign influences.

1. Desperation - Here we have one of the album’s “friendlier” tunes, though harder and heavier than anything else released at the time. The main riff is steady, thick and chugging, giving the song its heaviness, while the vocals deliver a friendlier, more “rockish” vibe to the song. Good start, but there’s plenty more to come…

2. Warrior - Okay, so let me get this straight…Speed Metal…back in 1977?! Yes! That’s exactly what this song is. I mean, the entire Metal scene all over the world owe a lot to Judas Priest and their albums Sad Wings of Destiny and Stained Class, but this album here, Rock City, clearly deserves the same amount of recognition just for this one fucking song! In 1971, Deep Purple had the phenomenal Speed Metal rocker, Highway Star, but this one slays it in every way possible! The earliest form of Speed Metal that the common Metalhead knows about is Judas Priest’s 1978 album Stained Class, most notably for the song Exciter. But this song here is from 1977, one year earlier, and from the States non-the-less. The riffs aren’t bluesy at all! This track is more or less Power Metal as well. Any of you heard Jag Panzer’s Ample Destruction album from 1984? Just compare it to this song, and you’ll notice that there isn’t much of a difference. For fuck’s sake, the song is called Warrior! The lyrics are medieval based and are actually about a warrior! Hard to believe that this could come out of 1977 when Judas Priest was barely speeding things up with Let Us Prey, but hey, do you understand why Riot is so underrated now??

3. Rock City - Bad idea to put a song like this after a track like Warrior. Why? Well first off, it’s not a bad song, it’s actually a really fun listen. It’s more along the hard rock lines than Heavy Metal, but still enjoyable. Eh…Hard rock with a metallic edge, shall I say? Anyway, the chorus is a highlight, as well as the background piano work. Overall, this is a very rockish tune with a slight bluesy vibe to it. Come to think of it, I can notice much NWOBHM influences here as well.

4. Overdrive - The only other Speed Metal number on the album. Actually, this one can be taken a bit literally due to the fact that the lyrics are about driving fast. Does it make it any more metallic than the song Warrior? Not even! Although the deep bulldozer bass and heavy main riff give it it’s hard edge, the rockish vibe is still there a bit. I mean, this song is Metal, without a doubt! I can best compare something like this to early Saxon or Motörhead; two other bands whom were straight out Metal, yet possessed a rockish vibe to their music.

5. Angel - Basically what we have here is a hard rock song with a few Metal influences thrown in here and there. Much like the opening track, Desperation, and the title track, this is one of the album’s ‘friendlier” tunes, although it does retain its hard edge. Bit of a party tune? Perhapse, but it still rocks.

6. Tokyo Rose - This sounds like a complete American 70s hard rock song with the exception of the chorus that’s backed by some heavier riffs and thundering bass work. There are also some acoustics in the song as well. Good song, but it’s the worst on the album.

7. Heart Of Fire - Less radio friendly music wise, but the lyrics are your typical love and lust anthem. The riffs here sound quite metallic, foreshadowing what the works of later Riot would sound like. In fact, this is nothing short of a great, NWOBHM sounding tune, especially considering the fact that a lot of the more obscure NWOBHM bands wrote about love, sex and lust, just as Riot did with the majority of the tracks on their early releases.

8. Gypsy Queen - Another simple, yet solid hard rock song that is much less metallic than the last. That chorus though is catchy as all hell! Yes, it’s catchy, but after a track like the last one, something that rocks a little harder is now to be desired for the last track. Will we get it? Well, read along and find out…

9. This Is What I Get - Okay…so this is what I get? Not much better than the last song, if you ask me. In fact, the chorus is pretty pathetic and there’s some strange vocal affect done here. Kind of like some cheap studio echo. Yeah. that’s really what it is. So…this song isn’t any heavier than the last track, but I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again…for this to be coming from an American band back in 1977, it’s pretty fucking good.


Plenty of the early Riot albums are a bitch to find unless you live where I live, but then again, they’re also kind of hard to download as well. If you enjoy classic, obscure NWOBHM and/or hard rock, then you’re bound to love this album. If you’re looking for something with more edge to it, then I supposed that hunting down the album just for the songs Warrior and Overdrive is worth it. I mean, at least you’ll have a piece of important, metallic history in your music collection.