Triumphant, rousing return that sees the band youthful and energetic
Quiet Riot has a very intricate history that connects on a deep level with their seasoned fans. 'Road Rage', the L.A. act's newest album, has received lukewarm reviews during its first month of release. I can certainly understand anticipation and excitement leading to a poor end-result. It has happened to me numerous times and I can sympathize. Industry and peers will be quick to point out that this version of QR doesn't have a single original member - Yes, correct. They also complain about the mix and production. It doesn't have the recording budget of 'Metal Health' - Again, correct. But, I would be quick to point out that was the 80s when guys like Spencer Proffer was producing Cheap Trick, Heart, W.A.S.P., Eddie Money and QR using "Slick Black Cadillacs" full of cash. It is 2017, QR are on an Italian independent label and playing smaller concert halls across North America. Solid gold hubcaps are long gone.
Knowing all of that, and riding the fence on a portion of the band's 40-year career, I would have to say this: Quiet Riot's 'Road Rage' kicks total ass.
Bassist Chuck Wright has been in and out of the band since 1982 (playing musical chairs with Rudy Sarzo), but a full-time member since 2010. Same thing with drummer Frankie Banali. They both have had 35 years of experience with QR and all of its successes and turbulence. Guitarist Alex Grossi (former Bang Tango, former Adler's Appetite) has been with QR since 2004, making this trio the same band as 2014's 'Number 10' minus Jizzy Pearl. In his place is American Idol's 10th season star James Durbin, who placed fourth in the high-stakes talent contest. Banali offered not only the microphone to Durbin, but also a pen (replacing vocalist Seann Nichols). 'Road Rage' is made up of Durbin's lyrics, melodies and youthful energy.
The album's lead single is "Freak Flag", a very smooth, early 80s tune that has a slower verse section before building into a robust chorus that shows Durbin's higher range. "Can't Get Enough" is a rollicking good time and sounds very natural with the whole band hitting their stride. Banali's playing is highlighted with a louder kick drum and cymbals in the mix (although the toms sound clicky). I love the mix and it's late 70s and early 80s aura. It's warm and fits the mood of songs like "The Road" and "Roll This Joint" so well. You want rock? Man, "Wasted" is a beefy cut, fat-bottom grooves that wrap around the gang chants. I am loving the Led Zep styled "Still Wild" and its slow burn. "Still wild, and never felt more alive" could be the album's defining statement.
Quiet Riot's 'Road Rage' has paved the way for a triumphant, rousing return that sees the band youthful, energetic and reborn for greatness. Easily a highlight to this year's already growing list of monumental achievements.