Dear Lord, what is this unexpected hit? Who could believe that we would have such a glorious return by the heavy metal pioneers Riot? Especially with the line-up of their two best albums, ”Thundersteel” and ”The Privilege Of Power” back in 1988 and 1990. Riot is a band for which I have always been claiming that the minimum they deserved in 36 years of existence, would be standing proudly next to names like Judas Priest, Motorhead, Saxon and Iron Maiden, in terms of offer in hard rock/heavy metal music and much more in terms of influence towards other younger bands. From their very first album ”Rock City” back in 1977 (!!!), until the previous one ”Army Of One” in 2006, they’ve had their glorious moments, just like any other great band and they also had some moments where their inspiration was not that amazing. Still, they continued serving this music, keeping a low profile all these years, despite having been a large part of the music evolution throughout four very different decades (’70s, ’80s, ’90s and the ’00s).

”Immortal Soul” is the fourteenth album of Riot, which may seem not so active if we count down that the first album was released 34 years ago. But don’t forget that they twice had a gap of five years inbetween albums (just like in this case, five years after ”Army Of One”) and a four year gap also. Line-ups changed many times but this time, the leader and soul of the band Mark Reale managed to count on previous partners of him, in order to create something really spectacular. And I can tell you that this was the right thing to do, because we are dealing maybe with the best Riot album since ”The Brethren Of The Long House”, back in 1995 (not to say way earlier). And though Mike DiMeo (a rather talented vocalist), Pete Perez (one of my favorite bass players in life) and Frank Gilchriest (known from his drumming duties in Virgin Steele) are out, Reale manages to create such a convincing album with his old fellows, that there is no doubt about Riot being strongly again in the first line of the whole metal scene for the year 2011.

I am in a very pleasant state of shock because listening to the album, even from the very first time it will leave you speechless with how fresh and powerful it sounds. I don’t know if it’s symbolical, but the first title of the album is simply called ”Riot”, like being a statement that this is the real Riot, after so many years of their quest in music. So, as soon as you will get over of the tremendous performance by Tony Moore, who sounds as if forgotten back in 1990 and still rolls on for ”The Privilege Of Power” sessions, you will easily understand what means to have the rhythm section of Don Van Stavern on bass with Bobby Jarzombek on drums back once again. Added to this line-up of course and not least in importance, is guitarist Mike Flyntz, who’s already been close to Mark Reale for eighteen years, since 1993’s ”Nightbreaker” album. The quintet sounds as if sparks from fire are unleashed in any direction and they will burn all who will dare and dispute the sincerity of this come back by one of the best bands in the history of music.

For the next 52 minutes, a storm of riffs by the skilled guitar duo of Reale and Flyntz will pave the way for the rhythm section to give an extra boost to these compositions, with an out of place Bobby Jarzombek proving once more why he’s played in almost thirty albums in his life, from Riot and Rob Halford’s personal albums, to Sebastian Bach, John West and Spastic Ink. albums, while he’s also been touring with Fates Warning the last five years and having also served for Iced Earth and Demons And Wizards. This album makes a two out of two for Jarzombek, as he took part this year on the Arch/Matheos collaboration album ”Sympathetic Resonance”, and of such worth is ”Immortal Soul” also. Some things surely don’t happen in luck. And of course, let us not forget that Moore’s vocals will travel you back in time and you will remember of vocalists with the vocal range of Geoff Tate, James Rivera, Harry Conklin, Mike Howe and many other American heroes that helped their bands be established as some of the best ones in heavy metal.

In overall, we are dealing with one of the best come backs that have ever taken place in the heavy metal history. An example close to Accept’s last album ”Blood Of The Nations” is what you may think of ”Immortal Soul” at first. The point is that Riot prove that they really have a great spirit on them as a band and not only they made one of the best albums of 2011, but they sound promising to repeat it again in the future, as long as this line-up stays the same of course. All I know is that from out of nowhere, came an album I wouldn’t count on being so great to be honest. On the other hand, I welcome this new version of Riot’s old sound, adapted to the likes of the present tense, and I wish to see them live at the current moment, in order to be able to live something of their glorious days two decades back. Riot’s soul may be really immortal if we think in cold blood. In any case, this is an album many 20 year old guys would like to release, but most likely, will never make it. Welcome back Johnny, we really missed you!

Track List Line Up
01. Riot
02. Still Your Man
03. Crawling
04. Wings Are For Angels
05. Fall Before Me
06. Sins Of The Father
07. Majestica
08. Immortal Soul
09. Insanity
10. Whiskey Man
11. Believe
12. Echoes
Mark Reale – Guitars
Don Van Stavern – Bass
Tony Moore – Vocals
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums
Mike Flyntz – Guitars

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