Thursday, March 4, 2010

Initial Impressions: Riot: Fire Down Under

Riot is an early U.S. heavy metal band, rising out of New York in the mid 1970's. This is the band's third album and one that broke to a very wide audience. It was released in 1981, right during the midst of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal explosion that was starting to find its way over to U.S. shores. It was pretty good timing as this album has a lot in common with the NWOBHM. Riot had also found an audience across the sea.

To begin with, there's the crazy ass cover. I have no idea what this creature is. It's some sort of man with a seal's head. And it appeared on the band's first five album covers. After the band nearly broke up after their 1983 album, it did not appear again, at least not that I have seen.

Musically, the band sounds a lot like very early Iron Maiden. The opening riff on the first track "Swords and Tequila" sounds a lot like the opening riff to Maiden's "2 Minutes to Midnight". The rest of the music on the album continues to tread the line between sounding like NWOBHM and American hard rock/metal bands of the day. The riffs have a Judas Priest feel to them and the vocals, while not as overpowering as some of the band's British peers, are well-done. The guitar solos are where things really shine. Guitarist Mark Reale is a very talented player and soloist.

Riot is one of the early American metal bands to truly make a name for themselves. They played a style very similar to bands from England of that time period which helped them to attract an audience. Unfortunately, their career peaked in the early 1980's. While they stayed around, they never matched it.

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