restored and mastered by Patrick W. Engel at Temple of Disharmony
There are people out there who argue that New York’s very own Riot are possibly the most important band in the history of American heavy metal. Up to the present day and the current Riot V incarnation, the band went through different artistic periods during their 44-year career. So Riot not only put their mark on one but several metal subgenres.
»Archives Vol.1« featured the classic Riot line-up consisting of Guy Speranza (vocals), Mark Reale (guitar), Lou Kouvaris (on second guitar), Jimmy Iommi (bass) and Peter Bitelli (drums). The early works culminated with the critically acclaimed 1981 proto speed metal milestone »Fire Down Under«. When new vocalist Rhett Forrester joined Mark Reale (guitar), Rick Ventura (guitar), Kip Leming (bass) and Sandy Slavin (drums) for 1982’s »Restless Breed« record, Riot took a more southern rock-tinged direction (to be witnessed on »Riot Archives Vol.2«). »Born In America« from 1983 followed a similar approach.
And for some this is where the “classic” phase of Riot already ended. In his book »The Collector’s Guide To Heavy Metal. Volume 2: The Eighties« (Collector’s Guide Publishing 2005) Canadian metal expert Martin Popoff comments on 1988’s comeback album »Thundersteel«: “Fraught with major bite, yet crammed with too much science and not enough blood, sweat and tears, »Thundersteel« has Reale punishing the world. So it’s not exactly Riot, and it’s a bit conceptually dated (see Shrapnel and Metal Blade circa 1985) but a panzer division by any other name is still a body-bagging flesh-eating machine.” All in all, Popoff was not truly convinced: “»Thundersteel« employs the services of robot-precise speed metal merchants, turning Riot into a 78 RPM maelstorm of traditional OTT, sorta like a red, white and blue Helloween, complete with a yelper higher than Speranza, and ear-piercing staccato bombardments from all corners of the instrumental fortress.”
At the other end of the spectrum though, »Thundersteel« (released by giant major label Epic Records) was soon after its original release hailed as one of the most important blueprints of modern US speed and power metal. Fact is that not only “Thundersteel” itself but several album tracks still feature prominently in Riot V’s current live set list.
Back in 1994, the late Mark Reale was interviewed by German fanzine Iron Pages and talked in some detail about what had happened in the Riot camp between »Born In America« (1983) and »Thundersteel« (1988): “After we did the ‘Lick It Up’ tour supporting Kiss, we kind of lost interest in Riot for a while. We were signed to a small indie label and somehow there was no progress whatsoever. So we all decided to go our separate ways for a little while. However, we did not rule out a future re-union. I moved to Texas and got in contact with various musicians. One and a half years before »Thundersteel« we actually played a re-union gig with Rhett on vocals. It was the idea of Sandy Slavin, our drummer, he had called me from California to tell me that there were still loads of Riot fans out there just waiting for us to go on stage. In the end we did play this gig. However, I was not getting along too well with Sandy’s wife who was supposed to become our new manager. Plus I had my own band Narita down I Texas at the time as well. Nevertheless we played a full re-union tour along the West Coast. Harry Conklin from Jag Panzer and Titan Force was our singer back then. I love him as a singer but he was not very professional back at the time. When we played this showcase gig in front of numerous A&R people he totally lost his voice after only four numbers because he had been drinking all night the day before. As a result we had to call Rhett once more in order to finish off the tour properly. When it was time to start negotiations with Sony Records though, Rhett went a step too far. We started to resurrect Riot in New York but Rhett demanded to receive some money before we had even signed the deal. This was just not possible for us at the time. We did not have any money. It was Guy Speranza who told us to check out Tony Moore, who was influenced by people like Rob Halford and Geoff Tate. And it worked out pretty well on the album.”
Just like its two predecessors, »Riot Archives Vol.3« also features a wealth of unreleased recordings, e.g. interesting rough mix versions of »Thundersteel« album tracks such as “Thundersteel” itself, “Fight Or Fall”, “Sign Of The Crimson Storm”, the intro to “Buried Alive”, “Flight Of The Warrior” as well as the classic “Johnny’s Back” (referring to the band’s mascot Johnny the seal) and a rare instrumental rough mix version of “Run For Your Life”. All recordings feature Tony Moore on vocals, the one and only Mark Reale on guitar, Don Van Stavern on bass and Bobby Jarzombek on drums.
Maybe even more interesting for die-hard Riot fans though, » Archives Vol.3«, spanning the years 1987 to 1988, also contains demo versions of songs later to be featured on 1990’s »Privilege Of Power« record: such as “On Your Knees”, “Metal Soldiers” and “Killer” (a rough version with vocals sung by a certain Joe Lynn Turner also exists in the archives). “Exciter”, “When Lights Go Down”, “A Place Called Tomorrow” and “Liar”, however, are songs not to be found on any Riot studio album!
»Riot Archives Vol.3« is completed by a pro-shot 70-minute live DVD recorded on August 21st 1988 at Hallettsville Rockfest in the heart of Texas.