There’s something to be said, sometimes, for brevity. Nobody told American power metallers Riot V that eternal verity, however – or they didn’t heed the advice – because they’ve just gone out and recorded a full, unexpurgated live show for their fans to absorb, recorded on last year’s Japanese tour undertaken by the band.
Japan has always been something of a second home to the band, in all it’s incarnations, and so the at-times delirious response from the fans to the band should come as no surprise. But – and here we are back at that brevity thing again – the biggest surprise to your reviewer was that I managed to sit through the whole one hundred and ten minute performance… and enjoy every minute of it!
To be frank I’ve found the band’s last couple of albums a little trying, a little too full of the same old-same old to be truly enjoyable. Sure each record has had it’s highlights, but for my taste there’s been a little too much filler. Lucky, then, that for this live album Riot V took Riot‘s Thundersteel album as the centrepiece of the performance, playing it in it’s entirety mid-set, and surrounding it only with the choice cuts from the recent works – with the added bonus of some real oldies but goldies to round things out!
Thundersteel is given the reverence it deserves, and the performances here by all involved really hit the heights throughout. Todd Michael Hall in particular shines; It’s a firmly-held belief of mine that Tony Moore‘s vocals on Thundersteel and it’s successor album The Privilege of Power are among the best that heavy metal has to offer, and Hall delivers an explosive recapitulation of the great man’s voice on Live In Japan 2018. Johnny’s Back, Thundersteel and Sign of the Crimson Storm are all spine-chilling in their immensity, as is an early-in-the-set double shot of On Your Knees and Metal Soldiers. The lead guitar interplay of Mike Flyntz and Nick Lee also goes a long way to upholding the ongoing legend of founding-but-now-deceased guitarist Mark Reale to new as well as existing fans. Their work on old classics Road Racin‘ and Swords & Tequila mixes old school grind and new school flash in great fashion. And of course my Texan compadre Don Von Stavern – the man who co-wrote Thundersteel– does a great job holding down the low end with drummer Frank Gilchriest throughout, but not least on the furious closing rendition of Warrior.
So there it is. My only grip is that the band couldn’t find space for Black Leather and Glittering Steel from Privilege of Power, but apart from that… I got nothing. This is a great document of what was obviously a great show, and it’s well worth obtaining if you’re a fan of any of Riot’s previous material from any era.
Live In Japan 2018 is set to be released by AFM Records on August 2nd.