Review: Riot V “The Privilege of Power” [Epic Records]

Review: Riot V “The Privilege of Power” [Epic Records]

- in Reviews
Score 70%
Dope or nope?
70 %
User Rating : 3.9 (1 votes)

Whereas Thundersteel had put Riot back on the map with its unexpected take on speed/power metal, The Privilege of Power sounds much more confused and basically can be divided into three categories: blazing speed metal, superficial balladry and so-so hard rock (‘Metal Soldiers’ is the exception to the rule and doesn’t fall into any of the categories; more on that later). In addition, you’ve got some extended introductions that are obviously another issue. First you have to sit through a minute of samples before each track actually starts off and at its worst, you end up with crap that doesn’t even make this worth the wait!

It’s frustrating, because once The Privilege of Power kicks into high gear, we’re dealing with high-class speed metal that’s not only blistering for the sake of it, but remains extreme memorable and leaves you craving for more. Speed metal has never been a style that’s defined by technical guitar wizardry, but Mark Reale knew how to make his fast-paced creations stand out in this regard. ‘On Your Knees’ explodes like a bomb of speedy licks all over the place; accompanied by bombastic horns and Tony Moore’s high pitched wails. It clearly sounds like a logical successor to ‘Thundersteel’ from the album prior, yet this sounds even more bombastic, adventurous and spectacular. ‘Dance of Death’ takes things even further; allowing Bobby Jarzombek’s earth-shattering drums to come into the main stage, while riffs get shot like artillery during the jam-like verses and the soar-worthy chorus in a semi-progressive, yet heavy manner. ‘Black Leather and Glittering Steel’ is another worthy cut that immediately fires riff after riff with its no-time-to-waste mentality. Fat bass lines dance around the tensed guitars and Tony Moore wails with ease; as if he’s having the time of his life… and if you can’t handle the heat, then Riot couldn’t care less.

The thing is… once Riot slow down, it’s as if I’m suddenly listening to a completely different band. I love an authentic ballad, but ‘Runaway’ sounds so superficial and devoid of any emotion that it’s not even funny. Forget about any heart-breaking passages or spine-chilling choruses here; we’re talking about verses that go one ear in and one ear out, a chorus doesn’t convince me at all and vocal lines that are as impressive as my own height (for the record; I’m 1m63). ‘Maryanne’ is slightly better; with its innocent appeal and vocal lines that were meant to sing along to, but again, Tony Moore has never been a proper singer and thus, he isn’t capable of injecting much life into this kind of stuff at all. Riot aren’t afraid to show their rocking side with ‘Killer’ and ‘Little Miss Death’, yet this wasn’t a good idea either at this point. ‘Killer’ introduces some classy rock-worthy riffs, but quickly loses its appeal once those overshadowing trumpets and yelped croons of the of the guest vocalist appear. ‘Little Miss Death’ sounds even worse, with its soft light rock spirit that wouldn’t even impress a kid; you’ve got some feather light verses with no quality riff nor hook attached and we’re also dealing with an underwhelming chorus that doesn’t demand for my attention in the least. From a band that released Fire Down Under you’d expect these guys to rock a little harder wouldn’t you? Alas, this isn’t the case at all.

As I had just mentioned, there’s only track that doesn’t belong in any of the aforementioned categories and this is ‘Metal Soldiers’. As dumb as the title sounds, this is one swaggering anthem that absolutely works. You’ve got these churning riffs bouncing around Tony Moore’s commanding presence and what the tune lacks in speed, it makes up with earworm-like hooks. I just wish that Riot had written a few more tunes in this style instead of focusing on lame rock and crappy ballads, but so be it.

How plenty of the tunes managed to make it on this album remains a mystery to me, but as it stands, The Privilege of Power makes an uneven listening experience. An EP of just the speedier songs would have resulted in one of the best speed metal records of all time and this also makes me wonder; would anyone actually care about The Privilege of Power if it weren’t for those tracks? As it stands, we’re talking about an album with plenty of goodies and plenty of mediocrity that you’ll come across; meaning that a 70% score seems more than justified.

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