Review: Riot V — Armor of Light
Do you have what it takes to join Riot V in the quest for the Armor of Light?
In any attempt to summarize the US style of power metal, Riot will pop out with a shining fanfare. Few bands carried their long-lasting passion to give metal a flesh and a soul through high impact riffing like these gentlemen did. They earned a spot in the shimmering gold pantheon of this genre we all love with commendable hard work.
With more than 40 years of legacy, the Brooklyn combo has faced numerous hardships and yet they stand still, cementing themselves as a living proof of the indomitable perseverance of the underground music.
Recently, the band endured their most difficult times. The tragic passing of the extraordinary guitarist Mark Reale could be the end of their career. Despite losing of its founding member, it marked the start of a new chapter, baptized under the Riot V title. The remaining musicians carried on the legacy and still march onward, to conquer new battles and retrieving glory to the old guard of heavy and melodic metal.
2014 was the first and most important trial. The release of Unleash the Fire, spearheaded by the powerful voice of Todd Michael Hall, prove to be worthy of the challenge. Riot V was once again ahead in the vanguard and the electrifying album also secured them high level gigs all over the globe.
Four years later, we see the advent of another record and is our duty as metal soldiers to prove if we are worthy users of the Armor of Light.
Under the sign of “Victory”, Riot V dispels whatever uncertainty listeners may have during their first encounter with this album. Guitars sounds upfront the battle line shooting the heavy artillery through sharp riffing and gut-slitting melodies; vocals are deployed to boost the soldier’s morale and the tank-like rhythm machinery galloping underneath is ever present in a great set piece made to crush. They know the art of war. They know that, in order to conquer in the battle of metal, peace is achieved through superior firepower.
Second track does not waste time either. “End of the World” become another exquisite monolith of anthemic metal, with guitarists Mike Flyntz and Nick Lee dominating their fretboards with insanely precise riffing and a jaw-dropping solo duel. Vocals provided by Todd Michael Hall does not shy away either from the battering ram carnage, as his melodic delivering is built with confidence inside the high register of his voice, setting some perfect hooks to make you hum the chorus all day long.
The opening trifecta is completed with “Messiah”, another great track composed with speed and superior attitude. During the whole record, listeners will have plenty of moments to hail the vocal work, and the third track is another great moment to do so. In this one, the band is all loose embracing their mythical Thundersteel years.
Given this point, it is time to shake things a little bit more. Without ignoring the US power metal grandiloquence of late Unleash the Fire era, with all the gallops gymnastics in the rhythm and the moving melodic catchiness, Riot V continues to mercifully slash throats and cut some limbs in the battlefield with “Angels Thunder, Devil’s Rage”, then switching to the more hard rock palate with “Burn the Daylight” and returning with more mighty sounds in “Heart of a Lion”.
This marks the Side A of Riot V’s Armor of Light, and so far the timelisting is exactly what the fanatics of this style craves the most.
The thing is, outsiders of this pedal to the metal genre will probably abort their journey when the title track begins the second half. Clocking around 55 minutes, the album kind of suffers from some inconsistent track, which can be skipped without hurting the overall experience. This mostly happens with “Armor of Light”, “San Antonio” and “Ready to Shine”, three cuts that nearly overload the tracklisting with some filler moments.
Of course, this side has its moments. “Caught in the Witches Eye” brings some groove and album’s closer, “Raining Fire” thrashes the road with an aggressive sound.
By the end, my conclusion is pretty clear. Armor of Light if a fine damn album and another great induction into the Riot V discography.
Even with the really distracting drum sound and the occasionally bloated track listing, the power and the heavy metal fans will find comfort on the insane amount of melodies, harmonies and face ripping hooks inside this piece.
Really! Go get it and obtain your dose of pure and fun metal!
Get Armor of Light through Nuclear Blast Records and all streaming services. Remember to follow Riot V in Facebook and Twitter. Tell them you were sent by an magical entity who communicated with you through an infernal toilet.