HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Riot - Through The Storm
(Metal Blade)

A big positive here is the band's newly organic, simple, earthy sound, no doubt brought about by groove merchant Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow, Sabbath, BOC) providing drums on a non-band member basis, in place of Bobby Jarzombek, who has left to join Halford. In tandem, Mike DiMeo sounds more comfortable, lower, bluesier, the whole thing coming off more like oxymoronically hard, late non-Dio Rainbow than double-bassed power metal, especially fantastic opener Turn The Tables, which would have fit proudly on Down To Earth. The title track also goes to this place by way of intelligence, the chorus being a thing of beauty, the guitar tone of the riff firing up unhindered rock 'n' metal. Still, I'd say there are a good three tracks here that are a little ordinary, a little too relaxed, making the two covers feel even more like panicky padding. But man, I'll take this over concept album power metal for Japan any day, even though it seems like the consensus is crying to bring back that sound.
Rating 7.5

Blue Oyster Cult - A Long Day's Night

As I play this it bothers me that the Cultsters have been reduced to a (large) club act with literary and provocative new records that people ignore, in lieu of hearing the hits. Still, A Long Day's Night demonstrates the fire of the band, the fact that they know - which is more than half the battle - that the muse still burns for them. This is a good live album for a number of reasons, well four: the snappy, solid production, Buck's solos, Bobby Rondinelli and the song selection. Buck is a treat to hear and to follow. The man goes places that make sense, and he gets there nimbly, smoothly, with class. Bobby Rondinelli is a monster pocket man that also has fills. And the songsÉ the band is acting like a longtime fan here, granted, churning Reaper, Godzilla, Astronomy (hear Eric in eccentric, jaded mode) and Burnin' For You but also Lips In The Hills (bad version), Club Ninja's best track Perfect Water, Heaven Forbid's best, Harvest Moon plus a bunch of weird old ones. Quite a deft selection given a single disc of 13 tracks, but scope is served, beers are sloshed and some of rock's best writers are exposed for the immense talents that they are.
Rating 8

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