Reviewed: November 1999
Released: 1999, Metal Blade / Attic
When I picked up this CD by Riot I knew that they had been around for a number of years and I was curious to see what all the talk was about. \”Sons of Society\” is the latest CD in a career which started in New York in 1976. Through the last 23 years guitarist and founder Mark Reale has kept Riot together through a number of line up changes including 4 vocalists. The current line up consists of Reale on guitar and keyboards, Mike Flyntz : guitar, Bobby Jarzombek: drums, Pete Perez: bass and finally Mike Dimeo on vocals. It is worthy to note that when Reale recruited Dimeo for vocal duties in 1990 he was also being sought by Ritchie Blackmore.
Outside of the song \”Fire Down Under\”, from the CDd of the same name, I had not heard any Riot songs before I picked up this CD. I knew that they played a straight ahead type of metal but I wasn\’t prepared for what I heard when I finally popped the disc on for the first time. The CDd opens with a middle eastern introduction titled \”Snake Charmer\”. Pretty cool, but it had me wondering there for just a second. I need not have worried. Track 2 ,\”On the Wings of Life\”, kicked in with pounding double bass drums and ripping guitars and I knew that I would not be disappointed. This song rips. Your head will be banging in seconds. The title track is up next and carries on with the pounding drums and guitars but vocalist Dimeo lets it go a bit more on this track giving it a great edge. Tracks 4 and 5 are more mid tempo rockers with \”Twist of Fate\” being a catchy number which allows Dimeo to flex his vocal talents. He goes from a bluesy wail to a scream with ease.
Track 6 threw me for a loop. Its a ballad called \”Cover Me\” and it reminded me so much of 80s Whitesnake that I had to check the credits on the CD to make sure that it wasn\’t an obscure Whitesnake cover. Its an original and shows a whole different side of the band. I tend to like slow melodic songs when the vocalist is good and on this track I can see why Ritchie Blackmore tried to recruit Dimeo. This is a bluesy number that doesn\’t really fit with the rest of the cd but a great tune nonetheless. For those of you who don\’t like ballads, the next track will redeem Reale and company. \”Dragonfire\”. This song absolutely rocks. Its well worth the purchase price alone! Dimeo wails on vocals, Reale and Flyntz rip on guitar and Jarzombek just beats his bass drums into mush. Now why can\’t they keep this up for a full CD? This would put them up there with almost any powermetal band out there. The cd finishes out with 4 more up tempo rockers. The best of which is \”The Law\”.
While this CD does not break any new ground it does show why Riot have been on the scene since 1976. They do not demonstrate any of the epic tendencies of many of the current European power metal bands. Riot are content to make an old fashioned metal CD. I would have liked to have seen Mike Dimeo let loose on a few more of the songs as he did on the chorus to Dragonfire. He has an awesome voice and a few more well placed screams would not have gone astray. A few of the songs also tend to sound a little the same but this does not take away from the CD as its only a minor problem. \”Sons of Society\” is a great metal CD. Anyone into power metal would not be disappointed by checking out this disc. I will definitely have to go back and check out Riot\’s back catalogue to see what I have missed.
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