Riot // Immortal Soul
Rating: 5.0/5.0 —Johnny’s back…again!!
Label: SPV Records
Websites: |
Release Dates: EU:  Out now!  US: 11.22.2011

Steel Druhm is as happy as a pig in shite! You see, one of my all time favorite metal albums is Riot‘s Thundersteel. Although it was released way back in 1988, I still listen to it regularly and felt the burning need to write a Retro-spective Review of it a few months ago to spread the gospel. So masterful was that platter, Riot never even came close to equaling it with their later output. In fact, the immortal Thundersteel lineup only recorded one more album together (the very good Privilege of Power) and after that, things dropped off a lot. Now, twenty-three long years later, that powerhouse lineup has reunited to record a proper followup to their magnum opus. Naturally, I was skeptical they could re-bottle the might and magic and create something as brilliant, especially after so many years. Well, I was wrong to doubt, because Immortal Soul is the modern day version of Thundersteel and the best album of 2011 (so far). It has everything that made the Thundersteel sound so intoxicating.  There’s speed, power, wailing vocals, blistering guitars, top-flight song writing, amazingly catchy melodies, choruses and smart lyrics. It’s a winner every way an album can be and its the record I’ve been praying for Riot to write since ’88. If you love the classic, traditional sounds of Judas Priest (think Painkiller), Iron Maiden and especially American acts like Jag Panzer and old Agent Steel, this will blow you away. If you, like me, loved Thundersteel, prepare to be stunned, stupefied and shellacked.

With the opening strains of “Riot,” its a trip back to the insanity of Thundersteel and it’s a thrashy tidal wave with searing, high-pitched vocals. When Tony Moore asks “what’s it gonna take to make you riot,” it’s pure metal heaven (Tony’s voice sounds utterly timeless and amazing)! The wild, shredding at 2:55 onward by Mark Reale and Mike Flyntz is priceless and air-guitar inducing to the nth degree. It’s the type of song that’ll make you remember why you listen to this stuff in the first place. From there, Immortal Soul never lets go of your throat as one barn burner after another flies by. “Still Your Man” is a sequel to “Johnny’s Back” off Thundersteel and includes self referential lyrics and guitar lines and it works wonderfully on its own and as a pleasant slice of steely nostalgia. “Wings Are for Angels” is a super catchy speed assault with a huge chorus, ripping fretboard gymnastics and great lyrics. “Fall Before Me” is a monster epic where Riot channels Manowar and the result is one of the best songs of the year. The title track is another hugely addicting hit with intelligent and fun lyrics you’ll be quoting often and a chorus you can’t shake. There isn’t an off moment or a trace of filler to be found. Every song will win you over and make you bask in their metallic perfection.

Besides the songs themselves (more on that later), the big surprise is how well Tony’s voice has held up over the years. I didn’t expect him to be capable of the wails and upper register histrionics he excelled at back in the day. However, he pulls it off with style all over Immortal Soul. When paired with the nimble and exciting guitar segments Reale and Flyntz crafted, the Riot sound is reborn and back to kick all the ass that needs kicking. Adding significantly to the aural mayhem is some great drumming from seasoned vet Bobby Jarzombek (Fates Warning, Arch/Matheos, Halford, Iced Earth). This is a tightly played, raucous and raging metal album like they don’t make anymore and it screams TRUE all the way to the end.

No matter how skilled the musicians are, without great songs they can’t get anywhere. Immortal Soul is an enormous triumph because they managed to write eleven great songs (and a cool instrumental). On the very first listen, five of them stood out enough to require immediate replay and by the third listen, all were having the same effect. This is one of the best pure metal albums to come along in years and it tickles me to no end it’s Riot that pulled it off.

Thundersteel is a timeless classic and now, it finally has a rightful heir to it’s Iron Throne. Immortal Soul is old school metal glory, all day, all night. Buy it, live it, love it. All hail Riot, the Kings have returned to reclaim Rock City, finally!

  • Matt Speer

    Sounds awesome, can’t wait to give it a spin. I am new to Riot and have been slowly making my way through their discography from the beginning to end.

    • They really changed over time but had some classic albums. Thundersteel was always my fav, now this new one is a close second. Also very good are Privilege of Power, Fire Down Under and Nightbreaker.

  • Loved Thundersteel, have to give this a listen. You guys rarely steer me wrong, so I can trust ya haha.

    • If you loved Thundersteel, you will love this.

  • It’s every bit as awesome as you say it is.

  • one of my friend is a huge 80’s US metal fanatic. he proclaimed Immortal Soul to be his “Record Of The Year”. and now the mighty Steel Druhm praises its quality and metallic awesomeness to the point of giving it a brilliant 5/5

    well, who am I to ignore powerful omens such as these? it seems it’s time to buy it and rejoyce!

    • Buy it…and soak in the metally goodness!

      • done! well, the guitarwork is AMAZING, the voice is powerful and the drumming is pure essence of asskicking… the refrains aren’t as brilliant as in Thundersteel, but the album shines

  • Crawling and echoes are the two tracks that stand out to me right now – the cd hasn’t left my car cd for a week – an awesome comeback.

  • Its a masterpiece!

  • Zadion

    I’ve never once listened to this band before. Is this a good album to start with?

    • Fuck yes!!! Then Thundersteel, then Privilege of Power, Nightbreaker and Fire Down Below. After that, its a mixed bag.

  • I’m listening to your favorite album “Thundersteel” from them right now, and must say it kicks all kinds of asses, very authentic and dirty in a road warrior kinna’ way, none of current day glitter, overpoduction and whatnot. These dudes are legit, thanks for drawing meta-attention on them.

    • No, thank YOU for giving Thundersteel a try. That’s a magic moment in metal in my ever so humble opinion. Cheers and hails.

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  • frank jilchriest, ex Riot drummer, just wrote on facebook a note, giving his thoughts and prayers to Mark Reale and stating his conditions. it seems he is battling many life threatening medical conditions and is in a coma

    well, i’m not skilled in prayers, but mine goes to Mark as well

  • swlong

    Wow.  First I’ve heard of this band and this album is pretty awesome.