Published on June 9th, 2018 | by Justin G.
Riot V: Armor of Light (Nuclear Blast)
Armor of Light is either the 16th album from Riot, or the second album from Riot V, depending on your opinion of the band carrying on after the untimely death of founding guitarist Mark Reale. There is a contingent of Riot fans who refuse to have anything to do with the new Riot V lineup, which is a shame given just how well they’re doing at carrying the Riot legacy forward.
On Armor of Light, longtime Riot veterans Don Van Stavern (bass) and Mike Flyntz (guitar) are once again joined by drummer Frank Gilchrist, guitarist Nick Lee and vocalist Todd Michael Hall. As with the band’s previous album (the excellent 2014 release Unleash the Fire), Armor of Light falls somewhere between the power metal sound of Thundersteel and the more hard rocking Sons of Society, which is not a bad thing at all. Sure it’s somewhat safe and predictable, but given their role preserving Riot’s legacy, you can’t expect them to shake things up very much.
Riot V serves up a dozen full-on anthems on Armor of Light, most hitting the 4-5-minute mark. They’re hard-charging, with catchy melodies, Maiden-esque rhythms and simple messages of triumph over adversity (and with some not so subtle Christian undertones). Hall makes the most of his considerable power and range, but never goes super high the way Tony Moore might have. That pays off here, as his style once more elevates a solid set of songs into something more remarkable. “Victory,” “Heart of a Lion,” “Armor of Light” and the very Christian “Messiah” are highlights, but the whole album lives up to the battle-ready promise of its cover artwork.
2018 has been a good year for classic bands releasing extremely solid albums. It started with Judas Priest and Saxon, and you can definitely add Riot V to the list. Unless you’re one of those adamant “no Mark Reale, no Riot” types, there’s really no way you won’t enjoy Armor of Light. This is absolutely faithful to the classic Riot sound, and a worthy continuation of that legacy. Riot V shines on.
Summary: Riot V shines on