Riot – Immortal Soul (SPV Records)

Saturday, 23rd March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Long a well-respected name inside American metal circles, Riot has reunited with their classic Thundersteel-era lineup for the release of Immortal Soul, their 14th studio album. Playing faster than any band their age should (they formed in 1975 – wow!), maintain a superior level of speed/traditional metal throughout the album’s 12 songs.

Returning singer Tony Moore (who last seen in Riot in 1992) instantly leaves his mark on the album’s proceedings, sounding like Halford circa 1977, even throwing in the occasional hot-air falsetto for good measure. He’s as efficient as any singer Riot has had, including his predecessor Mike Dimeo, who was good enough to keep the band afloat during the treacherous 90’s. Nevertheless, there’s lots to get excited about when it comes to Moore’s vocal performance, including the zippy chorus spots on “Wings Are For Angels,” the crazed “Sins of the Father” and storytime glory “Whiskey Man,” which has tons of sass, and a UFO feel, with the ace vocal line of ”It’s a son of a bitch, when I get that itch!”. Awesome.

Because all-word drummer Bobby Jazormbek is still in the ranks, Riot assuredly keeps the pedal to the speed metal pedal on opener “Riot,” and the double-bass happy “Echoes.” Since there is lot of pidder-padder coming from the bass drums, one could instantly drop power metal hints everywhere, yet Riot’s acute songwriting sensibilities (read: they don’t write silly songs) keep this out of the power metal doldrums, and it’s probably why a jam like “Still Your Man” would make anyone want to rock hard and ride free to it.

Old scene vets (like our own Matt Coe) drool over Riot and rightfully so – they’re the embodiment of pure American metal, rightfully (and wisely) leveraging the Euro metal scene. Immortal Soul is chalk-full of rangy and largely enjoyable songs, some of which stick extremely well (“Still Your Man,” “Whiskey Man”), which isn’t a surprise…Riot has made a career out of churning out songs like this.

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