Goddamn, have y’all heard this new RIOT V album Armor of Light (out now, Nuclear Blast Records) yet?!? Well if not, you need to get on that shit with a quickness. This, this, THIS is how you fucking Power Metal, dear readers! And I’m well aware I just made the genre a verb, ThankYouVeryMuch. Riffs for days, double bass drums out the ying yang, and high-pitched wails, all while not really dealing with that swords and dragons nonsense is what makes this one of the best Power metal records I’ve heard in years. Bassist Donnie Van Stavern once again takes on much of the writing as he did on the last record, Unleash the Fire. And if you guys liked that one, well…this album is basically RIOT V on steroids!!
Opener “Victory” sets the tone right away, and obvious IRON MAIDEN comparisons be damned, this is one bad motherfucker of a song. Taking off at an insane gallop, it will make you want to run your enemies through with a broadsword Conan-style. Vocalist Todd Michael Hall sounds better than ever, and the twin guitar attack of Nick Lee and Mike Flyntz are simply unstoppable. And as always Van Stavern and Frank Gilchriest kill it with the thumping bass and machine gun drums respectively. Next up is “End of the World” which features some killer individual and dual harmonized guitar leads. This is arguably the best solo/solos on the whole disc, btw. And those vocal harmonies are pretty damn sweet, too!
“Burn the Daylight” is an absolute standout due to not only the amazing riff, but also the band just coming together and wreckin’ shop from first note to last. And once again the fucking solos are incendiary. Gilchriest starts “Heart of a Lion” with a cool pattern and fill, and then the group comes in and rages from Hell to breakfast. Title track “Armor of Light” is another high point of this record. I don’t know what it is, man. Unleash the Fire was fucking awesome, but it seems to me that these guys took that fire from the last one and upped it 100 degrees, because these tunes will basically leap from your stereo and smack the shit outta you. “Angel’s Thunder, Devils Reign” is the sonic equivalent of a big ol’ dick of death, guaranteed to leave someone gapped.
A change of pace from all the boom-boom-boom comes in the form of “Set the World Alight”, and at this point in the record it’s a welcome one. I’m not as young as I used to be, and after seven songs of getting my face kicked in I need a breather. Still, this one is no less heavy, make no mistake on that. Oh, and can we discuss “Messiah”, the tune that is without a doubt one of my favorites?? I swear by all that is holy, if these guys don’t perform this track on tour I might have to burn several cities to the ground. An ode to Texas shows up with “San Antonio”, and while I really dug it, I’m holding out hope they’ll follow this up with “Dallas”, chronicling THE best city in Texas on the next album (Donnie, get crackin’ on that, willya?).
Speaking of Donnie, his bass is on and poppin’ throughout “Caught In the Witches Eye.” An anthemic quality permeates every note of “Ready to Shine”, and closer “Raining Fire” might just be THE best song on this album if I’m being honest. Listen once and I guaran-damn-tee you’ll be hitting that REPEAT button as I did. Look, at the end of the day RIOT V have not only lived up to their last album, they’ve made an even better one with Armor of Light. This is the type of record that makes you wanna drive faster, punch harder, and just go balls-out in everything you do. An excellent job here, boys!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Raining Fire”, “Messiah”, “Burn the Daylight”, “Victory”, “End of the World”, “Armor of Light”