Yes...I know technically the band is called "Riot V" out of respect for the legacy of the late great Mark Reale, but the fact remains that "Riot V" is the heart and soul of Riot and will forever be referred to here at CROM as just Riot. If you needed any more convincing after the mind blowing "Unleash the Fire," well don your "Armor Of Light," because the follow up features the continued 'fire' that the band has been on and may just represent 2018's best album.
You may as yourself 'what the hell is so great about this band?', 'they've only received cult popularity in the U.S. and huge popularity in Japan!' Therein lies the true crime in this world. The band that once was the subject of horrendous luck for the first 25 years, the biggest of which was the loss of Reale, finally found worldwide acclaim with "Unleash the Fire." Lifetime fans of the band will tell you that this band should have been one of the biggest bands in hard rock/metal...ever. Why that never happened is the subject of debate.
The heart and soul of Mark Reale continues to live on through the songwriting of bassist Donnie van Stavern and guitarist Mike Flyntz - and we as metal fans should express the proper gratitude for this. To have lost Riot (and there were soooo many times this could have happened over the years) would have been like ripping the heart from the very soul of metal. Van Stavern and Flyntz - along with Riot's best vocalist (and that is saying ALOT) - Todd Michael Hall, drummer extraordinaire Frank GIlchrest and guitarist Nick Lee represent all that is great about heavy metal with each and every album. When "Armor of Light" was finally announced, the sense of relief that came over this author was beyond comparison - a feeling that that only Luca Turilli is also able to conjur. Each album is a blessing and and honor and, without getting overly emotional, thank the metal gods I was able to hear it, because you just never know when things can end.
So what does "Armor of Light" have to show for all this gaudy praise? If you are a fan of "Unleash the Light," then you can expect more of the "Thundersteel" Riot. In fact, "Armor of Light" is utterly relentless with the attack, rarely slowing below mid-paced. It is speed metal, true metal, traditional metal...AMERICAN METAL - tried and true. Never a shortage of melody, Riot creates more hooks than any other band combined, all tied in with multitudes of riffs and zero orchestrations. It is as pure as metal gets and from the moment you hear the album, its like the warm blanket of perfection and the total sense of comfort and "home."
To sum up the message: "Angel's Thunder....Devil's Reign....heavy metal runs in my veins." This comes from the album's best track, but picking that is like throwing darts blindly at the dart board....everything is a center hit. Add to this the blistering title track, the fun hard hitting "San Antonio" and the return of the HORNS on "Caught in the Witches Eye." The album ends with is undoubtedly Riot's heaviest track ever - "Raining Fire" - and when its over, you are left aghast...wondering how is it possible I can enjoy 56 minutes of music this much and is there any more?
I bet you are wondering....is your author biased? Does it matter? Hell yes, by the way. When it comes to hearing every single thing that embodies what I love about heavy metal in one band...well, you bet your sweet metal ass I'm biased. This is pure, perfect and deadly.
Label: Nuclear Blast Records (2018)
2. End Of The World
4. Angel’s Thunder, Devil’s Reign
5. Burn The Daylight
6. Heart Of A Lion
7. Armor Of Light
8. Set The World Alight
9. San Antonio
10. Caught In The Witches Eye
11. Ready To Shine
12. Raining Fire