April 29, 2024

Riot, even if considered a legendary name nowadays, have always been more or less the underdogs of the US metal scene. The tremendous amount of bad luck and personal tragedy didn’t stop these guys from releasing some of the stone-cold classics of the Eighties with Fire Down Under, Born In America and Thundersteel being absolutely obligatory additions in every metalhead’s collection. When Riot’s founder and main driving force Mark Reale passed away twelve years ago, the other band members, and bassist Don Van Stavern in particular, decided to carry on in his name and in order to keep the legacy, with the blessing of Reale’s father.

So, more than a decade later, the fifth incarnation of Riot is here with its third album (and seventeenth Riot album overall) Mean Streets, which will finally be released on May 10th. The band’s main composers Van Stavern and Mike Flyntz have created the ultimate Riot album, with obvious nods to almost every band era and ultimately, an album that will warm the heart of every fan. Hail To The Warriors thunders through the speakers with great power and double bass tempo, along with fantastic guitar melodies, “teleporting” us straight into the Thundersteel years. The spirit of that classic is also present in tracks like High Noon or the epic Before This Time, but there are also nods to the Mike DiMeo nineties era, with the super catchy uptempo rockers Higher and No More, which are even better that the best songs in Inishmore or Sons Of Society.

There is an additional touch of melody and sense for the good chorus on Love Beyond The Grave and Open Road, with once again a stellar performance by Todd Michael Hall. Riot have also paid homage to the more rocking, street rock ‘n’ roll early years of the band, when heavy metal was not even “invented” in the States. The title track, the stomping rockers Feel The Fire and Lean Into It or the speedy Mortal Eyes could easily sit among the classics in Narita. What is amazing however, is the fact that the new Riot album doesn’t sound “stitched” or artificial but is a work of love and is a display of these musicians’ authenticity and knowledge of the genre and what the fans want. The old school, cheesy artwork is once again a delight and meant to be displayed on a t-shirt, with more than a touch of nostalgia oozing from the whole package.

2024 has so far been a heavenly gift for classic metal fans, with genre titans like Saxon, Judas Priest, Riot and Accept putting one hammer of an album after another. I am not sure whether the several “off-years” caused by the Pandemic are the reason for this renewed hunger and inspiration, but the quality these new albums possess is undeniable. We can only cherish at the fact and thank the gods of metal. Time to press “replay” once more and pray for my vinyl to arrive soon.


Riot in Facebook

Mean Streets is out on May 10th via RPM and you can order it from HERE