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Riot (USA) - 2002 - "Through the Storm"
(51 min, Metal Blade)


*****
Tracklist:
1. Turn the Tables
2. Lost Inside This World
3. Chains
4. Through the Storm
5. Let It Show
6. Born the Sun
7. To My Head
8. Essential Enemies
9. Only You Can Rock Me
10. Isle of Shadows (inst.)
11. Here Comes the Sun (inst. version)

All lyrics: by M. DiMeo.
All music: by Mark Reale, except
1 - by M. Reale & M. Flyntz, 
9 - by Michael Schenker, Phil Mogg,
& Pete Way (all of UFO), & 
11 - by George Harrison (of The Beatles, Solo)
String arrangements: by M. Reale.

Line-up:

Mike DiMeo - lead & backing vocals
Mark Reale - electric & acoustic guitars;
synthesizers & organ
Mike Flyntz - electric guitar
Pete Perez - bass guitar
Bobby Rondinelli (ex-Rainbow, BOC;
Black Sabbath, Solo) - drums 

Guest musicians:

Yoko Keyumi- recorder (on track 10);
violin, & string ensemble (on 11)
Tony Harnell (on several tracks) - backing vocals 

Produced by Mark Reale & Paul Orifino.
Recorded, mixed, & mastered by Paul Orifino
at "Millbrook Sound".

Prologue. The legendary Hard Rock band Riot was formed no less than a quarter of a century ago, and their debut album was released in 1977. In the current line-up of Riot I see the only founding member of the band, Mark Reale. Mike DiMeo sings in the band since 1994, while for the famous drummer Bobby Rondinelli, who worked with Rainbow, Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, to name a few legendary names (also, he has a few excellent solo albums), "Through the Storm" is his first work with Riot.

The Album. . Except for the last track on the album, to which I'll return to later, "Through the Storm" can be regarded as an album of a unified stylistic concept, the only correct definition of which would be Classic Hard Rock of a proto-progressive character. All the tracks that are presented on this album are good, at least. However, there are a few noticeable differences of a 'manifold origin' between them. Although each of the tracks on the album contains a few (from 3 to 5, to be precise) different vocal and instrumental parts, three of them, Lost Inside This World, Born the Sun, and To My Head (2, 6, & 7), were performed without keyboards. Thus, they have a more dry sound and are less diverse than the other compositions on the album. Nevertheless, these are good songs. Each of them features a lot of energy and a few of the varied, yet, always virtuosi solos of guitar. The main value of these songs is that the vocals are here supported not only by the heavy guitar riffs, but also by ubiquitous solos of lead guitar, which, though, is quite typical for this album as a whole. However, the absolute winner among the songs that entirely consist of heavy textures and were for the most performed up-tempo (at least), is the album's opening track, Turn the Tables. It contains four different instrumental parts, all of which are simply fantastic. Two of them consist of contrasting interplay between the high-speed solos of lead guitar, slow riffs of rhythm guitar, and mid-tempo solos of bass guitar, all of which rushes to the accompaniment of a very diverse drumming. The third instrumental part is 'dedicated' to the fast and outstandingly virtuosi solo of organ. A bit later, a lead guitar joins the organ, and their solos interweave to create the fastest and one of the most impressive episodes on the album. Turn of the Table is the first in a series of excellent tracks on "Through the Storm". All seven of the remaining tracks are not only very rich sound, but also contain the arrangements that are typical rather for Symphonic Art-Rock than Hard Rock. Three of them, Chains, the album's title track, Let It Show, and the rendition of UFO's Only You Can Rock Me (3, 4, 5, & 9) are also excellent songs. Apart from the heavy and powerful arrangements, wonderful interplay between passages of synthesizer, acoustic and semi-acoustic guitar, and solos of organ, acoustic (yes) and electric guitars, performed without the rhythm section, are present on each of these songs. All three of the remaining tracks: Essential Enemies, Isle of Shadows, and the instrumental version of Here Comes the Sun by the late George Harrison (8, 10, & 11) are, IMHO, masterpieces. (By the way, only both of the last tracks on the album are entirely instrumental.) Among Riot's own compositions on the album, Essential Enemies is especially rich in symphonic elements and is, in fact, a very tasteful (and truly progressive) Hard Rock ballad of a dramatic character - both vocally and instrumentally. What's central, however, is that it brings to a listener a light flavor of music of East. The instrumental piece Isle of Shadows is probably the most diverse composition on the album, which, in addition, is marked with frequent changes of tone and mood. It is filled with varied interplay between solos of lead guitar, synthesizer, and recorder, riffs of rhythm guitar, and passages of semi-acoustic guitar and string ensemble. Consisting of very beautiful, yet, virtuosi, interplay between passages and solos of acoustic guitar, violin, and string ensemble (there are no other instruments on it), the instrumental version of George Harrison's Here Comes the Sun, is the most wonderful rendition I've heard for a few of the last years.

Summary. Riot's "Through the Storm" is the first high-quality album of a proto-progressive Classic Hard Rock that I've heard in the new millennium (here, I mean those Hard Rock albums that were released after 2000). Overall, this is by all means excellent album. If you're much into such bands as Rainbow, Whitesnake, UFO, Blue Oyster Cult, etc, and miss their classic, old 'n' gold sound, check out "Through the Storm" immediately. This will be such a (good) musical therapy that you've been waiting exactly for.

VM. September 4, 2002


Related Links:

Metal Blade Records: http://www.metalblade.com/


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