Review: Riot – Rock City (1977)

Review: Riot – Rock City (1977)

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Riot Rock City (1977)

Riot remained for a couple of decades as a silent inventor. Due to the limited distribution of their early releases (basically, they did not sell their stuff outside of Japan), many metal fanatics were not able to realize that the New York-based band have already created certain things believed to see the light in the early/mid-80s. For instance, these guys were playing power metal stuff at least seven years before the date in which fanatics praised the German act Helloween as the official creators of power metal (not to mention that they were a symbol in the USPM scene two years before said creation took place). Moreover, certain riffs made famous by Iron Maiden were part of Riot‘s compositions (for further details, refer to “Swords and Tequila”) at least three years before.

That said, since the outset, their sound was considered of the heaviest in the decade, alongside other relevant names like Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and Judas Priest (Motörhead also released their debut in 1977). Such recognition was fairly afforded to Riot, considering how their sound transitioned from the hard rockish blueprint set by Boston and Thin Lizzy to a more intense style, reaching its peak with “Warrior”. That classic “Rainbow meets Thin Lizzy” number is part of the power metal stuff played by the band in their albums and is indeed an anthem that persisted as part of the band’s live set. The chorus is pretty much a sing-along part, and part of it (“Shine, shine on…”) is a widely memorable phrase among the fanatics.

Contrasting the aforementioned song, the rest of the album is more focused on the hard rock influences that made up the band’s trademark sound; however, at some point, it becomes somehow heavier, allowing the listener to experiment harsher and louder riffs, as well as more insane drumming. Something that surpassed the hard rock line and was a bit ahead of their time if compared to the bands influencing their sound. More so, it would not be out of place in the NWOBHM, except for the fact that this is not a British band.

Generally speaking, there are no complaints on the band’s performance and their songwriting skills; however, some improvements would be foreseen in subsequent releases, reaching the pinnacle for at least a couple of times in the 80’s. But at this point, the formation seemed to be solid with the presence of the talented legendary vocalist Guy Speranza, as well as the always remembered Mark Reale and L.A. Kouvaris on guitars. Given the circumstances surrounding the album, finding a copy is such a privilege that few may be able to obtain; nevertheless, your search should not stop here.

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Score 86%
86 %
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About the author

I have been for more than 15 years into classic rock and 70s and 80s metal music, and have been writing reviews for more than 4 years. As a reviewer, I'm primarily focused on the most classic subgenres of metal music, and have heard the same in different formats.

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