• Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Riot V – Unleash the Fire – Old School Riot Fans May Not Find This Quite What They Hoped

Unleash the Fire is the fifteenth studio album from Riot.
Unleash the Fire is the fifteenth studio album from Riot.


When Riot came on the scene out of New York in the latter half of the 1970s, they were a hard rock band with something all their own. Their sound ranked amongst the best of their era, though sadly, the band never got the proper recognition despite having phenomenal music to their name. Furthermore, they were no stranger to tragedies and other disastrous events. Despite this, the band continued to persevere, maintaining a larger following in other parts of the world, shifting from classic hard rock to power metal.

Co-founder Mark Reale, the one main constant in Riot, passed away in 2012 following a battle with Crohn’s Disease. The surviving members rebranded themselves as Riot V, and have played several tour dates. The first album from the new Riot V version of the band is Unleash the Fire.

I will be the first to admit that, while I initially admired Riot for the shift to power metal to differentiate from their earlier material and to branch out musically, this was something of a double-edged sword. The band’s early material was solid because it stood out from the crowd; they had a unique hard rock sound that was amongst the absolute best out there. This effort to branch out was certainly respectable, but also largely made them indistinguishable from a number of European bands doing the same thing. That is not to say their music became weak, it was just no longer the unique sound the band once had and became initially known for.

The death of Mark Reale was definitely a turning point for the band. Would they continue, or quit out of respect for their long-lasting co-founder? As was previously stated, the band has continued, but has changed the name to Riot V out of respect. At long last, the first album from the new version of the group has arrived. How does Unleash the Fire measure up?



Unleash the Fire continues in the power metal direction Riot has been pursuing for the past several years, and sadly, does not mark a return to the groups earlier Fire Down Under/Restless Breed-era sound. Having given the record a few listens, this fan is still a little torn as to overall feelings on it.

As far as the positives go, the musicianship on this record is definitely solid throughout. The guitar work is great, and everything does come together nicely. Amidst this sound, this is a strong, solid effort that gets the job done. Those who have been following Riot for the past several years will agree that this album definitely seems like the next most logical progression for the group.

On a more negative side, while this was supposed to be the big comeback album for Riot, it does not really bring anything new to the table. This fan was hoping the band would finally veer away from the power metal sound and return to their earlier, raw hard rock sound from the old days (though that thinking may have been a bit too wishful in retrospect). There might not be quite as much variance in the songs as you would like, either. It is good music, but if you are expecting something that completely turns things around or captures the band trying something new, you unfortunately will not find that here.

Unleash the Fire is a solid power metal album, but old school Riot fans wanting a return to the band early, pre-power metal sound should not hold their breath. As it stands, I can give this album a modest recommendation. Worth giving a listen to, but nothing revolutionary either.

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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