Hard Reviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Riot - Sons Of Society
(Metal Blade)

This almost sounds like a fun album for Reale and DiMeo, unchained by having to do a concept record, able to indulge in their gravest Blackmore and Turner fantasies, most of Sons Of Society sounding like the most metallic and castle-shrouded riffs from records like Down To Earth and Marching Out. Even the production sounds close, intimate and battle-torn, although fakey hi-hat sounds (notice I didn't say fake: heck, I don't know!) keep me thinking it's slicker than it comes across. Tracks like The Law and Time To Bleed burn and bite, while still retaining those drenched goth-pomp tones, mostly projected by DiMeo, who is just this classic voice for power metal, a touch gruff, no cliche high stuff. A fast blaster with sturdy songs (fave: Promises), Sons Of Society is just one of these pure metal experiences written for a specific grandiose mood, while realizing immediacy is also often crucial to today's short attention spans.
Rating 8

Amen - Amen

Like Zep's Houses Of The Holy gone very wrong, the front cover of Amen's self-titled debut stares down the nation, while the musicmakers inside attack with a punked-up force many of the current metal flavours, a little bit of Korn Chamber, a cold-steel taste of Sevendustrial, and hard habits from hardcore. But it's so cannily mixed-up and spat out, Amen approach the mystique and cogent emotional force of Rage Against The Machine, especially come When A Man Dies A Woman. Ross Robinson has gone for a histrionic, high-ended sound to match the writing's emotion, and quite often, the thrashy vocals of Casey Chaos are buried way back like some sort of metaphor for hyper-American information overload. Which is a bit of a problem by record's end: too much of a million nu-metal thoughts racing around yer hurtin' head.
Rating 7.5