Our top ten Riot songs looks at a heavy metal band that were formed as Riot in New York in 1975 and changed their name to Riot V many years later. They released their debut album Rock City in 1977. The album was not successful and the band nearly broke up until British DJ Neal Kay spread the word about them in the UK and they soon recorded their second album Narita which was released in 1979. Capitol Records offered them a deal to support Sammy Hagar but they were soon dropped. They spent what was left of the money from the deal to promote their second album on the radio which led to the release of their third and biggest selling album Fire Selling Power in 1981. They found themselves in state of limbo when Capitol deemed the record “commercially unacceptable.” After protests from fans which got the band released from the contract, the album got into the Billboard 200.
After the release of this album, frontman Guy Speranza left the band due to the rock lifestyle conflicting with his religious beliefs. He was replaced by Rhett Forrester on their next album Restless Breed in 1982. Although he was a good frontman, his strange behaviour put the band’s future success in jeopardy. After the release of their next album Born In America, they broke up. After spending some time defunct, they regrouped and the next album Thunder Steele was released in 1988. This was followed in 1990 with The Privilege of Power which was more experimental.
In 1992 Tony Moore who was now the band’s vocalist left the band due to disagreements with their manager. They then recruited Mike DiMeo and their next album Night breaker was released in 1993. For the rest of the nineties, Riot V would continue on with a stable line-up and produced a series of strong albums. DiMeo left after fourteen years after the release of Army Of One in 2006. In 2008 the Thunder Steele era line-up of the band reformed. This line-up recorded the album Immortal Soul which was released in 2011. In 2012 founding member Mark Reale died of Crohn’s Disease. After this, they retired the name Riot and the other members began making music in the same vein.
In 2013 they relanced under the name Riot V. In 2014, they released the album Unleash The Fire. Here is a list of their ten best songs.
# 10 – Irishmore
Kicking off our top ten Riot V songs is the title track and closing number from the band’s tenth album released in 1997. Like the rest of the album, this track which is an instrumental was inspired by Irish and Celtic themes. The song is very prog rock-esque in its sound and shows Riot’s more experimental side.
# 9 – The Brethren Of The Long Horse
Up next we have the title track of the band’s ninth album released in 1995. The album is a concept record that is dedicated to the culture of American Indians. The track is rather Iron Maiden-esque both musically and in terms of its lyrical content. Mike DiMeo puts in a very powerful vocal performance.
# 8 – Nightbreaker
Next up is the title track of the band’s eighth album released in 1993. It was an album saw the introduction of three numbers in the form of Mike DiMeo, guitarist Mike Flyntz and bassist Pete Perez. Although this was the early nineties and not exactly the peak of popularity for the band’s brand of traditional heavy metal, the band clearly were not fazed by this and this song is a very powerful piece of power metal.
# 7 – Storming the Gates of Hell
Our next track is taken from the band’s seventh album The Privilege of Power released in 1990. This album was more experimental in nature, being a concept album and featuring horns on several of the tracks. However, with that said this track is a very traditional metal track that is very fast and epic sounding.
# 6 – Thunder Steele
Ending the first half of this list is this track which is the title track and opening number of the band’s sixth album released in 1988 which was also their comeback record after a period of inactivity. It featured an almost completely different line-up with the exception of guitarist Mark Reale. This song was originally written for a project that Reale had formed called Narita and a version by that band exists in a demo form. The album got to 150 on the Billboard 200.
# 5 – Born In America
Kicking off the second half of this list is the title track of the band’s fourth album released in 1983. This album was the last of the band’s first stint together before being dropped by their record label and deciding to split up. With the exception of Mark Reale, this was the last ever Riot album to feature any of the band members who play on it.
# 4 – Restless Breed
Our next track is the title track of Riot’s fourth album released in 1982 that was the first of two albums to feature Rhett Forester. Although Forester was a good frontman, it would seem that his introduction to band did not quite make the kind of impact that the band would have liked, as they were dropped by Elektra Records after this album was released. It got to number forty-nine on the Billboard.
# 3 – Fire Down Under
At number three is the title track of the band’s third album released in 1981 that was the final record to feature vocalist Guy Speranza. Like the album that followed it, this record had problems with the band’s label which was Capitol Records, who decided to drop Riot due to finding this album not commercially accessible enough.
# 2 – Narita
Just off the top spot we have the title track from the second Riot album released in 1979. This album was initially only released in Japan and available only as an import in the US before later seeing an official release. As previously stated, after Riot’s first split Mark Reale formed a band named after this song and album.
# 1 – Rock City
Topping off our Riot V songs list we go all the way back to the beginning with the title track of their debut album released in 1977. It was initially released independently by Fore Sign Records and has since been reissued by other labels including Metal Blade. It is the only Riot album to feature contributions by bassist Phil Feit who would later go on to play with artists such as Billy Idol and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
Photo: Frank Schwichtenberg, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons