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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.