Sjak : In 2014 the previous album ‘Unleash The Fire’ was brought to market, which was the first album on which guitarist and founding member Mark Reale, who passed away in 2012, wasn’t present anymore. As an homage to the great creative spirit that Mark Reale has always been to Riot and to honor his legacy the band name was changed to Riot V, which is now the new official band name. The song material which was to be found on ‘Unleash The Fire’, which to a large extent was written by bass player Don Von Stavern and guitar player Mike Flyntz, was certainly not bad but suffered a bit from the mediocre production, which insufficiently reflected the true power of the material. That aspect has been thoroughly adjusted on the new album ‘Armor Of Light’, because sound-wise we absolutely can’t complain this time around.
That also accounts for the song material on offer here, because the again by Von Stavern and Flyntz written tunes are a lot stronger than what was featured on ‘Unleash The Fire’. Especially ‘Victory’, ‘Messiah’ (my personal favorite of the album!), ‘Armor Of Light’ and ‘Burn The Daylight’ sound very impressive, although it has to be said that there isn’t a weak song to be found on the entire record. The heavy, yet always melodic guitar parts of Mike Flyntz and Nick Lee form the basis of the lovely Riot V material and the many, fresh sounding solos are the icing on the cake. Also singer Todd Michael Hall feels really at ease with this new material, because his powerful voice is a big added value on this album. I must say that this ‘Armor Of Light’ quality-wise is almost as strong as the classic ‘Thundersteel’ record and that’s something that I didn’t exactly expect upfront. A new and very strong version of the title track of that album forces you automatically to make that comparison and you’ll just have to conclude that ‘Armor Of Light’ has become the best album since ‘Thundersteel’. As such this is a grandiose homage to Mark Reale and a pretty strong statement that these old-timers are nowadays still a big force to reckon with. If Mark Reale is able to watch this from the afterlife, he will definitely not be able to suppress a big smile, because this is how he has always intended the music of Riot (V) to be!