There is always a comforting sense of continuity about Riot V;  Here is a band that is intensely cognisant of it’s past, to the point where at times you feel they are almost haunted by the shadow of fallen band leader Mark Reale, such is their dedication to upholding his musical legacy.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that; It’s entirely laudable, in fact. what with sincerity seemingly at such a premium in the music industry (or, indeed, the world at large) today. But it does at times lead to a certain constipated feeling on some of their material, a stiffness that finds the band hidebound by convention when you sometimes wish they’d just break the chains and let themselves stretch out a little. This isn’t metal by numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but it is metal without inspiration.

This is most evident on this album’s title track and also the opener Hail To The Warriors, both of which a re just a bit too formulaic for their own good. However when the band hits the sweet spot then my word you’re in for a wild ride… High Noon is just about the best thing the band has recorded since their mid-period renaissance that appeared in the shape of Thundersteel; A thunderous piece of classic Riot that simply screams HEAVY METAL in all it’s Goose bump inducing, gonzoid glory. Vocalist Todd Michael Hall gives an absolutely belting performance… in fact the whole band does, in the process setting the bar for true metal for the rest of 2024 as guitarists Mike Flyntz and Nick Lee strip paint with the harmony leads and Don Von Stavern and Frank Gilchriest power the whole thing with the sort of power, speed and precision that most bands can only dream of.

Before This Time is almost as good, adding some superbly thought out, almost pop harmonies to the mix; Here the band steps off the gas a little, allowing the melodies to breathe, and the change in pace is as welcome as it is successful. Riot V are masterful songwriters, a fact they don’t always push as much as they might.

Elsewhere the likes of Mortal Eyes, Lost Dreams and Lean Into It keep up the quality, with the result being, as noted, probably the best thing the band have released since the early nineties. If you’ve ever been a fan of this band in any of their incarnations, there’s a lot of fun to be had here – horns up to all concerned!

Mean Streets releases on May 10th.