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RIOT V Mean Streets

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Sunday, March 10, 2024 @ 7:12 AM


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RIOT V
Mean Streets

Atomic Fire Records




For a band with as varied of a history as RIOT has, it still beggars belief that the legendary NYC-based hard rockers haven't amassed as much of the fame as many of their other Gotham-based peers. Arguably, the band's historically frequent lineup changes can be debated in particularly playing a significant role in their occasional career hurdles over time - and yet, perhaps this has also been something of a credit to their history as well. Their upcoming 50th anniversary as a band has already yielded a legacy so powerful that it requires two separate bands to celebrate its history: The newly-established RIOT ACT fronted by Rick Ventura, whose lineup honors the band's raw-sounding 70's era with both classic and new material including 2022's Closer To The Flame, and the well-established RIOT V who champion their hard-hitting 80's output also with classic and new material.

Granted, RIOT's clamorous fight throughout its career had been particularly notable during the mid-late 70's towards the early-mid 80's, which had been marked mostly due to mostly inadequate record label and management support in between the release of bonafide classics such as Narita, Rock City and Fire Down Under. But their true struggle took place throughout the mid-80's and beyond despite producing some epic platters such as Restless Breed, Born In America and the powerful Thundersteel. The loss of some of their core members such as Rhett Forrester in 1994, Guy Speranza in 2003 and Lou Kouvaris in 2020 had already been a testing time for the band, but certainly moreso with the loss of founding member Mark Reale in 2012, casting their entire future in doubt at one point despite remaining a large draw particularly in the European festival touring circuit. Yet, thanks to the unbridled efforts of longtime bassist Don Van Stavern and guitarist Mike Flyntz, the RIOT V era not only honors Reale's legacy, but brings the legacy to new heights on the band's newest offering titled Mean Streets.

A *ahem* fair warning to anyone navigating those same Streets with the heavy anticipation of catching a massive aura of the spirit of '76-81, though: The fury, the ferocity, and, indeed, the fire (down under) are indeed still highly active, but it's more directed towards the latter-day power thrashing speed metal era afterwards for which RIOT V believe is where the band's untapped power lies.

Mean Streets is Thundersteel moving to Category 5. Mean Streets is The Privilege Of Power with even more entitlement. Mean Streets is also more of Inishmore, the brighter beacon of light on Shine On and the further communal collaboration of Sons Of Society. And certainly, earlier on, Mean Streets is the current soundtrack to the ultrasound giving birth to the early 80's power metal scene on this side of the ocean.

Opening tracks "Hail To The Warrior" and "Feel The Fire" are unabashedly authoritarian and dominating in nature, with credit to the fiery voicebox of Todd Michael Hall, who vocally directs the masticating guitar work of both Flyntz and Nick Lee throughout the entire album. "Love From Beyond The Grave" is an earnest chest-beating unifying number complete with such powerful NYC-style gang chanting in parts that you could almost sense Luther in the far distance taunting Cyrus Warriors-style somewhere. The speed metal madness of "High Noon" is definitely the album's clincher here, with Todd's vocals and no-nonsense street savvy on full delivery with the promise of "if it's a choice between you or me/Then you're going down" prepped to throw down unapologetically hard and fast. As well, the equally fast-taking prowess of both "Mortal Eyes" (giving a subtle nod to 1979's Narita in its lyrics) and "No More" and the uplifting crunch of "Lean Into It" are also stellar-sounding powerful gems within the album which deliver on point.

Indeed, if the average longtime fan regardless of their preference of era can be certain of with RIOT throughout its varying lineups, it's that Mark Reale ran the band's empire with a tenacity that would impress Gus Fring, and that the seal mascot is virtually immortal.

And, certainly, that RIOT V continues to traverse its own path with Reale's blessing on Mean Streets.

5.0 Out Of 5.0

https://www.areyoureadytoriot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/riotrockcity
https://www.instagram.com/officialriotv/
https://twitter.com/RiotVMetal


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