Riot V is literally the fifth incarnation of Riot, based on the number of singers the band has had (Speranza, Forrester, Moore, DiMeo, now Hall), and after the death of lead guitarist and mastermind Mark Reale. Long-time guitarist Mike Flyntz and bassist Don Van Stavern are now the two longest-tenured remaining musicians in the band, with Flyntz being a member since 1989. The band’s new second guitarist is Nick Lee, a former student of Flyntz’s. Former Virgin Steele drummer Frank Gilchriest and new singer Todd Michael Hall (ex-Jack Starr’s Burning Starr) complete the band. Unleash The Fire continues the sound of the band’s last record with Reale, Immortal Soul, which featured the brief return of Tony Moore, the vocalist heard on Thundersteel and The Privilege Of Power, the band’s two power metal classics. Hall sounds like a mix between Guy Speranza (Riot’s first singer) and Tony Moore, so he fits the band’s sound perfectly. Flyntz has learned a lot from Reale and sticks to the band’s trademarks – staggered rhythms and triolic leads. Riot’s sound is still unique. The lyrics are a step back to the metal clichés of the Thundersteel era – song titles like Ride Hard, Live Free (Judas Priest, anyone?), Bring The Hammer Down (Hammerfall, anyone?), and Fight, Fight, Fight make it clear that the band sees itself as a traditional power metal outfit now. The albums with singer Mike DiMeo were a lot more hard rock-oriented. The highlight here is the song metal Warrior which continues the theme of the “shining warrior” and acts as a sequel to Flight Of The Warrior from Thundersteel. The final song Until We Meet Again is dedicated to the memory of Mark Reale. Overall, this is a traditional metal album sure to satisfy old fans and bound to make an impact in Japan (to which Land Of The Rising Sun pays tribute). – Andreas Herzog


Riot V