"Unleash The Fire"

By Colonel Angus

Riot without Mark Reale is like Thin Lizzy without Phil Lynott.  That being said, I don’t have a problem with members carrying on the legacy of the band and keeping those great songs on the live circuit.  With Riot V, we have a band that is keeping Mark Reale’s legacy alive with his family’s blessing.  The nucleus of this effort was created by long-time members Don Van Stavern (bass) and Mike Flyntz (guitars) but also consists of latter-day Riot drummer Frank Gilchrist, Nick Lee (guitars), and Todd Michael Hall on vocals.  "Unleash The Fire" reminds me of the "Thundersteel"  era of the band’s long history which I guess is the sound the band was after (based on a number of things I have read).  Songs like “Land Of The Rising Sun”, “Ride Hard, Live Free”, and “Metal Warrior” all sound like bonus tracks from the "Thundersteel" or "Immortal Soul" sessions.  Not only is the songwriting up to par with those 2 releases, the musicians all step up to the plate and do justice to the Riot legacy.  Of special note, Todd Michael Hall does a great job on vocals and those folks who thought Tony Moore could not be replaced should give this disk a spin.  I’m not saying Moore is an easy replacement but Hall does such a good job that you’ll swear it was Moore singing.

 As I mentioned earlier, the songs have that power metal vibe that fans of "Thundersteel" will enjoy.   There are only a couple of tunes that fall a bit short but not enough to distract from the disk as a whole; this is solid album from start to finish.  For those of you who are complete-ists, then be sure to get the digipak version which adds “Thundersteel (live)” as a bonus cut.

I have always been a fan of the Steamhammer/SPV label.  They always seem to have a high level of quality with all of their releases.  They released "Immortal Soul" back in 2011 and now in 2014, they too are helping to keep the Riot name out there.  Although the name of the band is now Riot V, the sound and soul of Riot lives on in "Unleash The Fire".  Mark Reale would have been very proud of this release for good reason; his band and music is being talked about in 2014 and that can only be a good thing.