Riot V - Official Website

Mean Streets

United States Country of Origin: United States

Mean Streets
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Type: Full-Length
Release Date: April 12th, 2024
Genre: Heavy, Power, Speed
1. Hail To The Warriors
2. Feel The Fire
3. Love Beyond The Grave
4. High Noon
5. Before This Time
6. Higher
7. Mean Streets
8. Open Road
9. Mortal Eyes
10. Lost Dreams
11. Lean Into It
12. No More

Review by Vladimir on February 27, 2024.

Riot V, one of the highly influential and crucial US heavy metal bands which left a big mark on my life and various other oldschool metalheads around the world. Despite the fact that the band has been around for donkey’s years, they are still hungry for swords and tequila like there is no tomorrow. Well, it seems that their seal headed warrior, the mighty Tior, is about to strike once again. On April 12th 2024, Riot will be releasing their seventeenth full-length album Mean Streets via Atomic Fire Records. If you wish to experience the adventures of the seal-headed warrior once again as the lightning strikes, then hop on and join the ride! 

Starting out pretty strong with the opening track 'Hail To The Warriors', we are instantly welcomed with powerful heavy metal filled with thunder and steel, striking hard with full force and it promises right from the get-go that there will be plenty of wonderful things to come. Throughout this thrilling joyride, we get a couple of nice tracks worth checking out such as the uplifting heavy banger 'Love Beyond The Grave', the faster killers like 'High Noon' and 'Higher', the epic melodic mid-tempo tune 'Before This Time'. When the turn comes for tracks such as 'Feel The Fire' and 'Open Road', we get a couple of easy rockers that are going for a more catchy and smooth direction, which is a slight stylistic departure from the rest, but nevertheless still welcome additions on this album. An interesting exception on this album comes in the form of the thrashy heavy and somewhat Judas Priest-like 'Mortal Eyes', the ninth track on the album, a very tight and strong song that turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, and it should not be skipped under any circumstances. Overall, you have plenty of stuff here to find where a couple of songs leave a very strong mark, while others still perform quite well despite not leaving that big of a mark in the end. As the journey comes to an end with the final track 'No More', you truly feel like you’ve reached the point where you just look back at everything and think “I wish I could do it all again”. 

The songwriting on this album is quite simple yet still dynamic in terms of styles and ideas that Riot incorporated, and it’s just really difficult not to experience the might and energy of each song as the album goes on. During the entire album, this pretty much feels like one big journey where you experience a turbulent life on the road, driving through the mean streets where you face a lot of peril, while the songs dictate your point of view as a protagonist in this story. The only small issue that I had with this album is that it’s a little bit too long, with a total of 12 songs which are all good individually, but a couple of them do feel a bit redundant and just stacked to prolong the album’s runtime which really wasn’t all that necessary. However, all can be forgiven if you really let go of your mind and just let the songs speak for themselves, constantly pushing you forward to feel the power rising from within. The cover art was handled by the Hungarian artist Gyula Havancsák, who has previously worked for other big names such as Accept, Annihilator, Grave Digger and various others, and his artistic skill wonderfully captured the essence of Riot by depicting the biker clad gang of the band’s seal mascot Tior, riding on the mean streets on a stormy night in their charge for glory. Apart from being visually eye-catching and stylistically beautiful, one interesting detail that I just couldn’t let go of was the fact that the seal biker chick riding behind Tior is exposing her right boob like a lustrous siren. You have to admit that the cover really is impressive but still incredibly over the top to the point I just love it. 

Riot’s delivery on this album is very simple yet so on point that it’s so difficult to believe that this is an album coming from a band that is turning 50 next year. Mean Streets is a nice album that offers plenty to enjoy and it certainly did manage to make me happy like I was when I heard the band for the first time more than 10 years ago. You can hear that the album comes from the band’s motivation to continue going forward, whilst still committing themselves fully to get the best out of their passion and dedication as experienced musicians and artists. Mean Streets is a fun thrill ride, so don’t miss out on it! 

Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Review by Felix on February 25, 2024.

Riot V return with Mean Streets and the artwork wants to build a bridge to the very old days. I think of Narita, a very charismatic album (Guy Speranza, R.I.P.) or their classic work Fire Down Under. These full-lengths were released in 1979 and 1981… and this says it all. The line-up of today has nothing to do with these albums and maybe it would have been a good idea to start with a new name after the death of Mark Reale (R.I.P.). Enough moaning, let’s hear it.

Mean Streets commutes between heavy and speed metal. It houses some fleshy riffs, powerful drums and it has lively moments. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. But unfortunately it's also dripping with clichés (hooray, we're so goddamned metal) and some embarrassing elements have also crept in. And again: anyone who says otherwise is lying. Just listen to the sugary 'Before This Time', if you do not believe me, but don’t complain afterwards that your ears are all sticky. Only Helloween apostles will fall in love with this track (and that’s always a bad omen!). The guitar introduction of 'Feel The Fire' is stolen from Priest’s “Grinder”. Okay, they did not take elements of sonic accidents like “Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days” at least. On the other hand, already the song titles promise nothing else but stereotyped stuff. 'Lost Dreams', 'Hail To The Warrior', 'Open Road'… really? Is this the level of 2024 or the class of 1984? Anyway, I listen to twelve tracks which are standardized in length, approach and message. I cannot hate them and I never wanted to do so, because I feel the band’s joy of playing and technically everything is surely on a respectable level. But this is so painfully more of the same that I even cannot really enjoy the sharp riffing of 'Love Beyond The Grave' due to two reasons. The bridge is inappropriately soft and, now we come to the bigger problem, the pretty high-pitched vocals crown the collection of traditional (or should we say antiquated) components. This guy can sing, no doubt about it, but he sounds monotonous in his smooth perfection, like a heavy metal robot who was programmed to sing. Always crystal clear, always passionate, quickly tiring. More or less the same goes to the production. It is vigorous, free from the tiniest speck of dust, flawlessly balanced, right in your face – and lacks emotions completely. Perhaps the attribute synthetic is too harsh for the mix, but it already speaks volumes that this word comes to one’s mind when listening to the album. And yes, I don’t like it that the output is absolutely free from any elements of rebellion. Mean Streets wants to be loved in a penetrating way and this intention has shaped each and every song.

And so the songs come and go and I admit that I already had more entertaining 51 minutes in my life. Almost no song sucks and ten of the tracks do not lack substance, but they are interchangeable, the offered kind of guitar lines has been heard many times before and 'Lean Into It' is nearly as terrible as 'Before This Time'. Is this Bon Jovi in a slightly heavier edition? The question can remain unanswered. Mean Streets is an album for people whose personal taste has denied any form of evolution since the early eighties. I also have nostalgic feelings sometimes, but that does not mean I want to listen to a dozen of mediocre songs. I would rather fly to Narita in order to buy the Japanese edition of Fire Down Under than to spend my money for the here reviewed work.

Rating: 4.8 out of 10