Genre: Heavy Metal/U.S. Power
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
The first samples of “Armor of Light” that had seen the light of day were more than encouraging. They showed a band with a straight-in-your-face album in the familiar heavy / power metal path that they have been on for so many times. “Victory” and “HeartofaLion” were repeated a lot until I took the whole album in my hands and that says a lot.
With the aural picture of “Armor of Light” being close to “Unleash the Fire”, Riot V show for one more time that their best feature is their ability to write songs of huge quality in the genre they serve. Bright riffing, huge melodies and choruses you can sing along. Everything is here again.
The melodic lines in the voice of the honorable mister Todd Michael Hall, is one of the strong points of the new material. Complete, to the point, intimidating and closer to human patterns, give the tracks the extra boost they need. Maybe the compositions of Don Van Stavern create a strong base to move on, it’s the vocals that sky rocket the album. And of course by no means the execution itself should be forgotten, right?
I repeat, the melody is the most remarkable point in this album and not only in the music. A careful listen to the guitar lead part existing here, will confirm the above fact: Either we are talking about leads called to work with riffs, or to full solos. On simple words… “Listening to Riot V, you are happy to listen to guitars”. Especially in the solos, the combination of Flyntz / Lee are giving out compositional lessons.
Mr. Frank Gilchriest also gives his best in the drum kit and there are several things we could comment on here. I understand that most of the material is based on classic power metal. Therearesomepoints though that its use is a bit excessive and it is more obvious in the kick drum boosting that has been done in terms of production. I don’t know if that happened to serve the full vibe of the tracks -that move in high speeds anyway-, or if it is the syndrome of a “Thundersteel” frenzy. Ok, you have “Messiah” that reminds of “Thundersteel” in terms of riffs. You don’t have to overuse double bass in the drums, and put them up front in the mixing. Just sayin’.
Of course, when you listen to amazing ‘tunes again and again like “Armor of Light”, “Victory”, “Heart of a Lion” and “Raining Fire” there is no more space for overanalyzing or whining. Same goes when you realize that the band shows its teeth with dynamite tracks like “Angel’s Thunder”, “Devil’s Reign” or “End of the World”.
There are other tracks though, like “Caught in the Witches Eye” or my favorite, “Ready to Shine”, and “Burn the Daylight” as well, where the band plays slower and leaves the hard rock / heavy metal influences to shine. In my ears, not only they are the strongest in the album, but they are the strongest -in terms of feeling- point of the bands in general, at least at this point in their careers.
BasedontheaboveI’m wondering if there could be more hard / heavy parts -that fit to Riot V anyway- and less obsessed power metal moments in the album. I will be left with this question unanswered, I know that.
Themostimportantthingthough is that “Armor of Light” includes well written metal, with many explanations and without any special tricks. Youpress play and you listen to good heavy metal with fast power metal. And that’s what we ask for, since albums like that should exist in high numbers in the field, not to have us hunting them down and analyzing whether we have a “return to the roots” and similar beautiful notions.
Riot V stay true to what they’re doing, they confirm how talented they are and how generous they are by offering good metal for a lot of listens. All of the above make me overlook that they are stuck to Thundersteel. All of us are stuck anyway, one way or the other.