Mark Reale has been the spark in Riot’s engine since its inception in 1975. His fretwork has gone virtually unnoticed, but is fanatically revered by the Riot faithful.
Riot’s first three albums (Rock City, Narita, Fire Down Under) with original vocalist Guy Speranza (R.I.P.) encapsulated the initial Riot sound. Next vocalist Rhett Forrester (R.I.P.), who sang on 1982’s Restless Breed and 1983’s Born in America, did a commendable job. However, those albums just didn’t have the same kind of charisma as the first three. Ditto for Mike DiMeo, who sang for the band from 1993 to 2006.
DiMeo brought a different feel to the band with his style of singing that just in some ways didn’t sound like the true Riot. Tony Moore, who first entered the fray with 1988’s Thundersteel and for just one more release after, gave the band the closest and most dynamic sound since the Speranza days.
With Moore’s return in 2011, he picks up where he left off in the late 1980s and represents the latest version of Riot the best. Moore surely delivers on Immortal Soul. His falsetto, yet soulful, melodic voice adds a true dynamic to that classic Mark III Riot sound.
Traces of 1998's Irishmore, with its Celtic melody intro, pop up on CD opener “Riot.” Its blistering pace sets the tone along with Moore’s sometimes overbearing screeches, but it’s a scorcher nonetheless. The catchy “Wings Are For Angels” has a Thundersteel feel with great vocal harmonies and tight guitar rhythms. It has a very European power metal feel to it. “Still Your Man” opens with an intricate Jarzombek drum fill, followed by some great vocal harmonies along with a catchy chorus and hooks galore.
This is just incredibly good stuff. Fans of old school rock that remember Riot will not be disappointed with Immortal Soul. And for the younger fan, discovering your roots and knowing your music history should include Riot. Riot deserves to be bigger and not just a cult status. Their die hard fans have kept the band’s spirit alive and I predict that they will get their just reward with Immortal Soul. It should attract newer fans that thrive on old school greatness, and Riot possesses that trait.
(released November 22, 2011 on SPV/Steamhammer Records)