Sons Of Society


Metal Blade Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It's kind of funny, but for all the time I spent in high school as a headbanger, I never got into - or heard much of - the group Riot. It's not that they were an underground band; hell, I'd heard from many of those thanks to friends. It wasn't until the son of our next door neighbor died and I inherited what was left of his record collection that I first had a chance to experience this band - and I wasn't too impressed.

So listening to the band's latest disc, Sons Of Society, is kind of like walking on unplowed ground for me, seeing that it's been years since I listened to that battered copy of Narita. And it's interesting to hear that Mike DiMeo and crew create a killer disc by pushing forth the same musical standards that you would have expected from this group all along.

The band - vocalist/keyboardist DiMeo, guitarist/keyboardist (and founding member) Mark Reale, guitarist Mike Flyntz, bassist Pete Perez and drummer Bobby Jarzombek - take the ten tracks (plus opening instrumental, done in a Middle Eastern theme) and make the most of the time they're given, putting the listener through a musical wringer that leaves them happily gasping for breath most of the time. They're able to quickly recover from the rare misstep, and replace that memory with a tune that you won't be able to get out of your head for days.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Take "On The Wings Of Life," for example. A powerful hard rock song wrapped around a killer chorus, this is a track that, if some rock radio stations had some balls to program it, would be a hit that would let the world know that this band is still out there, and still demands your attention.

For the most part, Sons Of Society is the kind of album that captivates you in almost every song. Even the ballad "Cover Me" has enough power to lock you into a serious groove. Sure, the nitpicker might say that songs like "The Law," "Twist Of Fate" and "Dragonfire" are throwbacks to the old school hard rock - but so what? Those songs had melody as well as musicianship, and I have no problem with that. "Twist Of Fate" is one example of how this combination can work well, like peas with carrots.

If this album has any Achilles' heel, it would be the title track, the band's tip of the hat to thrash. With a chorus that is poorly underdeveloped, this track just hangs there limp as a noodle on a fork. The funny thing is that this song was probably a coat of paint or two away from being on the same level as the bulk of the material on this album - which makes its falling short of the mark that much more noticeable.

There still might be a few listeners out there who pine for the old days and one of Riot's many different line-ups. Relax, sit down, strap on the headphones and let this particular lineup stomp your senses into acceptance. Truth is, if you didn't know the band's history, you'd swear this lineup has been together since day one - and that's something magical they've achieved.

Sons Of Society is an album that should not only put Riot on the road to superstardom in America, but should serve as a wake-up call to fans of hard rock old and young that Riot is still around - and they're not going anywhere.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Metal Blade Records, and is used for informational purposes only.