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Monday, December 12, 2011

Riot - Immortal Soul review

Year : 2011
Genre : Power Metal with a Thrash temper
Label : SPV Records
Origin : United States
Rating : 9.0 / 10

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Now you and I need to put on our Shrek-cat faces, because Riot has been playing metal longer than you and I have the capacity to remember back to, claiming notoriety with the tremendous speedheft they enriched the pantheon of power chord fixated headbanging with. One look at the cover art of 1988's Thundersteel by Riot makes one sure that these musicians are serious and inventive about their craft, - the music on it is extremely fresh and positively dirty to this day, too - and this here current Immortal Soul lineup equates to that of the band's primordial original. The record has numerous faces and moods, and refrains from delivering along one particular behavior, like this one does, for example. While Riot remains faithful to the metal spirit of the '80s in the sense that the squad brings you the non-compromised vibe of the ethos via top of the heat production values, Immortal Soul still shows commendable urge to emerge as an eventful musical experience that practically reigns free of self-repetition. Let's go after these tracks.

Following its dainty, charmingly deceitful bantamweight instrumental intro sequence, opening track "Riot" collides you with good old fashioned intense power metal, and the structure of the main riff, - including the whole behavior of the song - greatly reminds me of Iron Maiden's "Be quick or be dead". The tempo and the heft both are charming, - and straightforward, too, like a handshake without pattern interruption - but the composition itself contains boring-as-website-love power chord roaming, which always is an embarrassment to hear, in my opinion. What I mean by power chord roaming, is the following : when the exact same power chord pattern gets transferred on the guitar's neck up and down. WOW! You CAN'T possible be badass enough to play your power chord in different neck positions, dudette!? You can hear a lot of the terribly boring power chord roaming method in a huge amount of Iron Maiden's music, too, - they seem to have abandoned it entirely on their latest LP, fortunately - and I personally think that power chord roaming always is a sign of an attempt to assuage the suspicion that the power chord roamer actually does not have the slightest idea of what to offer for neighboring sets of ears, including his own. Power chord roaming is unaffordably cheap, and you are, too, while you are doing it.


The lyrical thought the song is gravitating around is pretty delicious and impertinent, as it poses the question : "what it's gonna take to make you riot?" This is a question with true popcultural sex appeal and a provocative edge. Put me in a room full of power chord roamers and a chainsaw, give us five seconds and witness the true meaning of rebellion from then on.

Track number 2, "Still your man", sounds to be a deeply personal delivery for someone the band has a long term relationship with. Maybe a previous lead singer? The song itself once again is deeply "power chordian" and old school in character, and, though utterly sorry I am for not being blown away by the chorus, the build without doubt is of superb craftsmanship for an orthodoxly diligent power chord roamer contribution.

"Crawling" - let's hope not power chord crawling - comes to you as an elegiac stare into a memory that breeds nothing but menace into the present, and the song sports a thick, serpent-like middle eastern vibe of unalloyed vile intent the clean mid range singing behaves interestingly on. It sounds like a complaint-, a confession to a monster, but, complaining or making a confession to a monster is a puzzling act on its own. In the chorus, the song abruptly goes for a radio friendly melodrama rock register via the classic "table for one at the bar" feeling, and the mood change is so radical and brave compared to the neighboring surroundings, that you can't help but kind of respect/tolerate that stale feeling and its operative decision. The song, though stable and discomforting - in a positive way, it is entertainment, remember? - all the way, comes to an especially efficient and powerful climax with the lead singer bursting out cosmic level power metal screams to the middle eastern riffing that knows no love by the time these one note songs of rage and helplessness are occurring. Tight!

"Wings are for Angels" engages intensive tempo once again, and sounds to reflect the lamentations of a rebellious soul-collective that does not commit the mistake of failing to rebel against its own nature now, as opposed to the act of seeking out a second party to rebel against. (Which is very standard and super-boring power metal protocol practiced by the imaginatively challenged (f)artist.) The lyrics are pretty clever here, which is something you can tell of most-, if not all of the lyrics on this spin, fortunately. "I lost all my friends and I lost all my fear. Nothing left to die for, they told me today. I’m staying another year..." Equally grim and humorous, equally serious and ironic. So you are the rebeller, huh. Sorry, nothing to rebel against today. Come back next year, maybe, and you can serve out your function to relentlessly - khm, systematically, khm - rebel, see you 'till then!

"Fall Before Me" is the track of the record that is directed to form that invisible spiritual jellyfish bond between you and your primary mistress. This one is a harmless, routine lighterwaver heavy metal ballad from the heart of a met'll brethren to the heart of the neighboring met'll brethren, and, of course, this intentionally dramatic reflection on the male emotional structure - pffff - gives an opportunity to the neighboring female to admire "man" as thesis for the sophisticated and esquire inner capacities the song seeks to grace him with via its lyrical assertions. In other words, this song is on the record so you can entertain your girlfriend to it, it has no other agenda or function than that, but, that one is a supremely important one, mind you.

"Sins of the Father" is a definite highlight for me. It is pretty much thrash metal in character with hilarious lyrics, - ... "why even bother with life, I know" ... - and comes through as if it would be a delivery from a top-form Dave Mustaine. The riffage herein is rabid, untamed and super-efficient. Thrash doing what it does best : thrashing everything, starting with you.

"Immortal Soul" is a witty and sharp mid-tempo build that is not afraid to invade your receptors with the most overused-, but also most efficient textbook heavy metal harmonic tricks to rob you out of ways you could escape from the Clutches of Epic Determination this track wants to embed into your nervous system at the gesture of the fingers holding the pick. A well structured-, straightforward verse of great anticipation invites a fine chorus that exhibits numerous fine moments in its fabric when its main arch collides with the underlying components of the harmonic structure. Another highlight, in my opinion.

"Insanity" is a strange bird. Lyrically, it is as tight as the album comes as. I'm quoting, but, purposefully : "Insanity, you light up the world for me. We rage and we kill, and we call it free will, we believe in it still. Insanity, you bring out the man in me. This demon within, it's evil & sin, right under the skin." An erratic verse structure that sounds to have a problem deciding its mood, - which is appropriate for the title - and delivers a thread-dance on promise and pure ineptitude, reveals a chorus that I consider average, at best. The lyrics are great, but the music on this one, I'm currently not so sure about.

"Whiskey man" reminds me of Megadeth's "Public Enemy Nr. 1". This is the easily consumable instant-impacter of the album, that which brings you the necessary elements with trust AND sufficient thrust, too : playful, risk-free verse, a decent pre, and an "uhuh" chorus. "Please call me whiskey man, when the bottle is in my hand. Another shot at my command." Wow. You are awesome. You must be pretty lonely, too. Sorry, I have to return some videocassettes.

"Believe" is a brisk, easy to grasp build with another variant on the verse-pre-chorus template, and an oddly rhythmized interlude also is revealed in the song. Everything is decent in the track, and currently nothing in it shows capacity to command me to revisit it.

Same is true regarding album wrapper "Echoes", that which in parts reminds me - don't voodoo me please? - to the Never Ending Story soundtrack. These two last entries of the album sound to me like angrier-than-average power metal, occupying a burned out storyteller position. I have the hunch that these two last songs have been recorded during the earlier sections of the creative process, - warm up, phah - as they are nowhere near the immense danger level the highlights of this sound album reign at, in my opinion.

Rating : 9.0 / 10

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  1. Hello Thundersteel!! The masters are back and delivering some speed assault. Overall great effort after being long apart. Opening track Riot IMO is perfect because it brings the right mood. Don't really know about the power chord whoring because when the vocals starts and reaches, "what it's gonna take to make you riot?" I don't fucking care lol.

    I read somewhere that the second track is actually a continuation or sequel of the song about Johnny from the Thundersteel album...hhmm interesting enough.

    Yes I agree Sins Of The Father is a definite highlight. I think the album lyrically is good in the sense that it's not rigid and trapped by a certain delivery. Vocals still awesome.

    Good news for Riot fans cause they are back and grabbing the front stage by the balls. Thanks for the review man, I enjoyed the read and interesting dissection of the album. Keep up the good work.

  2. Thundersteeee-eeee-eeeel. THUND3RST3333333L \m/


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