If someone asks me to point a great -not simply good or worth checking- Heavy Metal band of today, I would point RIOT CITY from Canada. Case closed. And it’s their latest “Electric Elite” release that would make me to put them straight on this -high- top. Back on the days of their -much worshiped- debut, I would also have hand picked their name but I would have included an almost nerdy analysis about “a great debut by the Canadian newcomers that perfectly combine the classy Speed Metal sound with Heavy Metal influences”. Well now the case is much more simple: You want a great Heavy Metal band: Ok go out and check RIOT CITY.
“But why you may simply use the word “Heavy Metal” without going to a wide analysis putting the band into the realm of some kind of underground genre as per description?”. I hear you asking. Well back into my age, we would go on a record store, buy a Heavy Metal album, play it non stop from start to finish, just to realize that all the included songs were magnum opuses. Believe it or not this is the case with the new RIOT CITY album. Oh yes the most of those albums -that would include 8 to 10 killer songs- are worshiped till today as classics and I can not find a reason for something like this not to happen in the future with the “Electric Elite” album.
Let me explain the situation a little bit further. On their second album, RIOT CITY are actually keeping their skull crushing, screaming Heavy Metal plus their Speed Metal extravaganza. But they are moving one step forward adding LOTS of US Heavy and Power metal elements to their sound. In general they are remarkably focusing to the classic Heavy Metal sound perfectly balancing all the above influences, delivering an a Heavy Metal album for everyone.
Yes -RIOT worshiping- US Heavy / Power Metal is here. Speed Metal -ala AGENT STEEL- touches are there, but everything is shaped under a classic Heavy Metal frame that highlighting some perfect standards like JUDAS PRIEST or NWOBHM. All the above on -RIOT CITY- steroids. Are you getting the point?
Someone may wonder under what circumstances the band has driven its sound to the above described pathways? Well a closer look to the band’s line up may bring some answers to front: Singer Jordan Jacobs handles lead vocals in the new album and the debut album’s singer/guitarist Cale Savy is now focused exclusively on lead guitars, while Roldan Reimer (guitars), Dustin Smith (bass) and Chad Vallier (drums) have a major contribution to this amazing record.
On the album I can widely hear this 80s magic that can be heard on the classic albums of the era. And when I say 80s magic I mainly refer to the musicianship of the album. Someone can hear a variety of influences that I already mentioned but the most important feature on this material is one: its originality.
The songwriting in this album reaches the absolute top, even if we are dealing with faster than the speed of light songs like “Eye of the Jaguar” or with mid-paced compositions like “Tyrant”, the result would be the same: Press the play button again. Like the good old days.
Sonic aesthetic is a big deal for RIOT CITY: They have worked each and every of their songs to the very last detail presenting to the listener their vision, a vision for inspired, well breathing and excellent Heavy Metal full of power and melody: Songs like “Lucky Diamond”, “Ghost of Reality” and of course the 10-minute closing epic track, “Severed Ties” are perfect examples of the above situation.
The album is excellent. I mean it. Listening to it I wish that I was 16 years old again, just to discover TODAY this new jewel that represents the sound of my -also newly discovered- basic classics.
We need NEW bands that would represent the Heavy Metal sound on its high standards, today. Bands that would base their existence to their musicianship. Bands that would be able to perform outstanding live shows full of energy in front of a crowd that would -also- consist of new, young aged fans that are discovering such bands making them their nowadays heroes… Such bands are the only hope for Heavy Metal. RIOT CITY is one of those bands.
Parents: Do not just take your kids to the next MANOWAR or MAIDEN concert. Buy some RIOT CITY stuff for them and take them to the band’s next live.
“Burn the Night” sparked the flame for RIOT CITY, an excellent debut, both commercially and musically successful and with the new album, “Electric Elite”, the band is ready to feed the flame with an overdose of soon-to-be metal classics.
And while people tend to think that bands nowadays are a one hit wonder, the opener “Eye of the jaguar” dispels any doubts around: furiously fast, relentless and unforgiving, with clear references to the mid 80s – early 90s German Power Metal scene and -the faster- NWOBHM stuff. There is also a serious touch from the speedy still catchy and mainly riff based steel of newer bands like ENFORCER, WHITE WIZARD, STRIKER, LANCER. The overall combination of the above influences clearly marks the sound identification not just of this particular track but of the whole album as well.
There is a wide list of epic tracks in here: “Return of the Force” which terminates the velocity indicator, “Paris Nights” with the best chorus of the album, and the top-notch “Ghost of Reality” which is a candidate for one best songs of the year.
And there is even more: as with the debut album there is some sort of diversity through the songs: exploding speed tracks like the above blend with the “mid-tempo” ones (the quotation simply marks the fact that they are not really mid-tempo, just a little bit slower compared to the above mentioned storm bringers): Songs like “Beyond the Stars”, “Lucky Diamond” and of course “Severed Ties” the ten-minute epic which indicates that the band is capable of composing more complex, demanding songs.
What’s great with the album it is that is it feels like a train at full throttle with no breaks: It progresses smoothly, never gets dull and each and every track seems to be in the right place. And something that its quite clear, at least to my ears is that the Power Metal influences (early HELLOWEEN, SCANNER, HEAVEN’S GATE) seem to dominate the sound as it is heard on “Severed Ties”, “Lucky Diamond”, “Ghost of Reality” etch, an interesting turn of events I should say. The guitar work is masterful and simply excellent. JJ’s vocals reminded me of Thomas Rettke (what do you mean who is he?).
The crystal clear powerful productions complete this excellent album.
Albums and bands come and go, yet few have the chances of making it to the top. I do believe that RIOT CITY is one of those bands. Let “Electric Elite” be their breakout album, they clearly deserve it.
The album will be released October 14th on No Remorse Records.
Check the discussion about the album on our forum pages.
Check some RIOT CITY airplay on our radio show.