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RIOT V Armor Of Light

By Alex Yarborough, Orlando Contributor
Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 11:59 AM

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Armor Of Light

2018 Nuclear Blast

2018 is already an incredible year for metal, and there are many great albums still on the horizon. RIOT (now known as RIOT V, due to this being the fifth version of the band) will release their sixteenth album, Armor Of Light, on April 27th. These pioneers of American power metal have stood the test of time despite numerous lineup changes over their 40-year history. The current lineup consists of longtime guitarist Mike Flyntz, guitarist Nick Lee, bassist Don Van Stavern and drummer Frank Gilchriest. Vocalist Todd Michael Hall (REVERENCE, JACK STARR’S BURNING STARR) fronts the band for the second album (he first sang for RIOT V on 2014’s Unleash The Fire).

I can report that this RIOT is still going on in full force! Armor Of Light is a truly hellblazing testament put to record. I was impressed with Unleash The Fire, but Armor Of Light is a step up for sure. It finds the band even more finely tuned and wholly forged into an impressive metal machine. Drummer Frank Gilchriest, in particular, delivers an absolutely relentless performance on this album. His precision double bass drumming is high in the mix for your enjoyment. Todd Michael Hall once again proves himself a perfect fit for this band. His singing here is truly inspired. Guitars and bass could not sound better, kudos to Flyntz, Lee and Van Stavern. Their playing here is classic RIOT. This album emanates hard work and passion.

“Victory” is a perfect opener for this album. It sets the tone immediately with its rousing sing-along chorus and clarion call of “Rise up! Your voices strong and scream along… cry out…victory!” “End Of The World” keeps the tempo up and offers a cool vocal intro before blasting off. The chorus and twin guitar solo are the highlights of the track. This album references the Thundersteel era of the band a few times, which is a very good thing. That album is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. “Messiah” offers a Thundersteel-ish riff at the onset and chugs along with a powerful and religious message. Hall’s lead vocal here carries the song, in my opinion.

“Angel’s Thunder, Devil’s Reign” is a killer track that will be added to my list of favorite songs of the year. “Angel’s thunder, devil’s reign – heavy metal runs through my veins…” This blistering anthem has everything you could want from a power metal track and even includes a roaring motorcycle engine. I’ve had the melody of “Burn The Daylight” running through my head lately. That should tell you how catchy this track is. “Heart Of A Lion” is a tribute to English king Richard The Lionheart, and mentions noteworthy events in his life. You can view the video for the song on KNAC.COM HERE. The inspirational title hymn “Armor Of Light” follows. The song zips along at light speed and delivers another sing-along chorus.

RIOT V changes gears a little with “Set The World Alight”, a track which dials back the aggression and employs a little more melody, yet with a chorus that is right on the money. Next are another two of my favorite tracks: the tribute to the great Texas city “San Antonio” and “Caught In The Witches Eye”. Both are high-flying rockers with shout-along choruses. “Caught In The Witches Eye” offers some stomp and swagger from Van Stavern’s bass and a nice solo from Flyntz and Lee. “Ready To Shine” is a harmonious track that takes me back to the Inishmore days. Fans of that era of the band will get it immediately. “Raining Fire” is the heaviest and fastest track on the album. This barnstorming song closes the album with a speed metal malevolence! There will be two bonus tracks on the digipak version of Armor Of Light: “Unbelief” and a re-recorded version of the song “Thundersteel” in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the album. Nuclear Blast is also offering black, silver and red double vinyl options.

There’s a lot to like on Armor Of Light. This album is the complete package. Honestly, there are no filler songs to be found on this album, just 12 great songs that clock in at around an hour. The overall production and mix of this album is also enjoyable. The album cover, by Mariusz Gandal, imagines the entire band as a group of Tiors, the band’s mascot. RIOT V continues to reinvent their sound and impress me. Mark Reale would be proud of what the band has done on Armor Of Light. It will contend for my album of the year without a doubt.

5.0 Out Of 5.0

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