RIOT V
"Live In Japan 2018"

(AFM)

CD1
01 - Armor Of Light
02 - Ride Hard Live Free
03 - On Your Knees
04 - Metal Soldiers
05 - Fall From The Sky
06 - Wings Are For Angels
07 - Land Of The Rising Sun
08 - Take Me Back
09 - Messiah
10 - Angel Eyes
11 - Metal Warrior

CD2
01 - Thundersteel
02 - Fight Or Fall
03 - Sign Of The Crimson Storm
04 - Flight Of The Warrior
05 - On Wings Of Eagles
06 - Johnny’s Back
07 - Bloodstreets
08 - Run For Your Life
09 - Buried Alive
10 - Road Racin’
11 - Swords And Tequila
12 - Warrior

RATING: 8.5/10

If ever there was a band that deserved much more recognition and praise for their contribution to heavy metal, it's RIOT. Originally formed by the late, great Mark Reale in 1975, the New Yorkers were an omnipresent force for hard rocking excellence for the best part of 40 years, before their leader's untimely passing in 2012. Outside of the US, RIOT have remained more of a cult concern, but their rebirth as RIOT V has been an unqualified success. Both 2014's "Unleash the Fire" and its 2018 follow-up "Armor of Light" were justifiably well-received; Reale's original template for blazing, traditional metal plainly in safe hands with longtime co-guitarist Mike Flyntz and bassist Don Van Stavern still on board. Vocalist Todd Michael Hall has been a huge asset, too, and it's his commanding presence and unfussy charisma that provide the glue that holds "Live In Japan 2018" together. Both a celebration of RIOT's formidable catalogue and a blustery reassertion of musical values under the RIOT V banner, this has a real milestone feel about it, even before you peruse the frankly mind-boggling track listing.

In sonic terms, "Live In Japan 2018" sounds as thunderous, precise and vibrant as you could wish from a modern live metal record. Part of the brilliance of RIOT's evolution over the years was in the way changes in songwriting style and new trends in production never seemed to undermine the band's core sound and unerring dedication to balls-out heavy metal. Here, the fact that 30 years separates the composition of classic anthem "Swords and Tequila" and latter-day ballad "Wings Are for Angels" (originally from 2011's "Immortal Soul", Reale's final RIOT album) is rendered meaningless, because RIOT V play it all with the same electrified vigor, simultaneously contemporary and old school, each with equal conviction.

At 110 minutes in length, this is plainly not aimed at casual fans, but as a one-stop shop for all your RIOT needs, "Live In Japan 2018" is pretty much unbeatable, not least due to a complete performance of 1988's classic "Thundersteel" album. From the absurdly thrilling speed metal fury of the title track to the dark emotional crescendo of "Buried Alive (Tell Tale Heart)", "Thundersteel" is one of the '80s great American metal albums; a timeless masterpiece that RIOT V play like men possessed, propelled breathlessly forward by Todd Michael Hall's note-perfect performance. As an ageing metalhead who still owns a slightly battered copy of "Thundersteel" on vinyl, it's impossible not to grin during the likes of "Sign of the Crimson Storm" and the Japanese crowd clearly loved every second of it, too. Quite rightly, "Flight of the Warrior" turns into a rowdy singalong. This is ageless, virtuoso stuff.

Genuinely great live albums are few and far between these days, but "Live In Japan 2018" makes the grade on every level. For older fans, it's a timely reminder that the greatest metal never gets old. For everyone else, it's a stirring and substantial introduction to one of the greatest American heavy metal bands of all-time. Somehow, perhaps against the odds considering the age of those involved, it's genuinely exciting. To borrow a phrase from final encore "Warrior", long may RIOT V "ride on with strength and will." It sounds like they're having a blast doing just that. Mark Reale would be proud.

COMMENTS

To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).