Published on November 6th, 2017 | by Justin G.
Romeo Riot: Sing it Loud (Kivel)
I got a pair of CDs in the mail the other day (OK fine, I got a stack of CDs because I have a problem, but bear with me here). One was the new Revolution Saints album Light in the Dark, and the other was the debut CD from Romeo Riot, titled Sing it Loud. I mention the two together because they’re both “supergroup” albums for their respective labels; also because my reaction to the two was very different. More on that in a second…
Romeo Riot features a lineup of regulars from the Kivel roster: vocalist Mark Giovi (ex-Farcry), guitarists Scott Miller (Tango Down) and Erik Johnson (Bombay Black), bassist Ty Simms (Bombay Black) and keyboardist/main songwriter Jace Pawlak (um, Jace). This is a rock-solid lineup, with one of the most underrated songwriters in melodic rock preparing the songs.
Back to the whole Revolution Saints/Romeo Riot comparison (I’m going somewhere with this, I promise), you have two supergroups doing ‘80s-influenced melodic rock, and it’s the one without the marquee names that turned in the better album. Both albums are technically sound, and both are well-produced, but Sing it Loud has the better energy and doesn’t sound like every other factory project. A big part of that is Pawlak’s songwriting. I swear the guy is this generation’s Jack Blades. He knows what makes melodic rock songs effective, and his backing vocals are fantastic. You also hear real energy and passion from Romeo Riot that never quite shows up with Revolution Saints. It feels like these guys really put their hearts into this album, and as much as I love those Farcry albums, Giovi really levels up on this one. It’s also good to see Miller, Johnson and Simms, who are known for their harder rocking sound, show off their more melodic side.
Sing it Loud is a really strong album front to back, but it does have its standout tracks. “Streets of Babylon” and “I Want to Try” are great, catchy, mid-tempo melodic rockers with fantastic vocal harmonies, the new version of Jace’s “Cry” is a welcome second look at a great song, and they even turn in a rocking version of the old Olivia Newton-John hit “Twist of Fate.”
Romeo Riot may not have the profile and press that the big name projects get, but they’ve put out an album that is first class all the way. Its obvious audience is fans of Tango Down, Jace Pawlak, Bombay Black and Farcry, but Sing it Loud deserves to be heard by any fan of Night Ranger, Find Me, Mr. Big, Palace, Journey and well-crafted melodic rock in general.
Summary: Now this is a supergroup that brings the super.