I remember back in 1983, I was just a teen and a metal head. Living in Sweden, there was no hard rock or metal in the media at all, so when Swedish Television decided to show a big metal festival that took place in Westfallenhalle, Germany, it was a huge surprise. It contained some of my favorite bands back then – Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Def Leppard – and some acts that I wasn’t too familiar with in Krokus and MSG. it also contained one act that I had never heard a note of – Quiet Riot. Now, I had read about them so I was very keen to see what they were all about. The festival wasn’t shown in its entirety, of course, only three or four songs of each band were shown and Quiet Riot had three – “Metal Health”, the Slade cover “Cum On Feel The Noize” and “Slick Black Cadillac”. After that, this boy was hooked and I bought their third, but world-wide debut album Metal Health (1983) right away. I was sure that Quiet Riot would be huge because I loved that album – and the album was huge, it sold millions. But their career as superstars was about to be short. By the time of the follow up Condition Critical (1984), it was more or less over.
I liked that album as well but it was clear that Quiet Riot had made the fatal mistake by recording Metal Health again – it even contained another Slade cover and the record was more or less a carbon copy of its predecessor. When they released QR III in 1986 I lost interest. It did contain one of their best songs ever, “The Wild And The Young”, but the rest of the album was weak and it flopped. Since then, the band have split up and reunited like a million times and released another eight albums, the new one included. To be honest, I haven’t heard one single Quiet Riot album that rocks my world after Metal Health even though the Paul Shortino fronted QR from 1988 was really great. It didn’t sound anything like Quiet Riot, though and should probably have been released under another name. In 2010, they released their last album 10 with Jizzy Pearl (Love/Hate, Ratt) as the replacement for the deceased Kevin DuBrow (1955 – 2007), a half live, half studio effort. To say that the album was poor is a huge understatement and I’m not even sure it was released as a physical CD. I thought that that was it for the band – a crap album that bombed, no original members left and Jizzy Pearl leaving the band for the final time in 2016.
But longest surviving member, drummer Frankie Banali refused to give in. Together with bassist Chuck Wright, guitarist Alex Grossi and new singer Seann Nicols who replaced singers as Keith St John, Mark Huff and Scott Vokoun, who all were in the band at different times between 2010 – 2016. The band signed with Frontiers records and recorded an album for release in April 2017 but in March, Nicols handed over his resignation, just as the album was done. So the band replaced him with American Idol contestant James Durbin, pulled back the album, re-recorded Nichols vocals and set the release for August. Now, apparently, the Nichols version can be ordered as a Japanese edition anyway, if anyone’s interested. But back to the album. Would Quiet Riot finally release an album to shut all doubters up this time?
The album opens with “Can’t Get Enough”, a typical 1991 arena rocker. The tune has a decent groove and Banali’s drumming is easy to spot and even though the chorus do have some catchiness to it, it’s too much a standard hard rocker, that lacks identity and it could be pretty much any band out there. “Getaway” opens with a sitar and the tune goes for a somewhat psychedelic feel. Otherwise it’s an ok melodic hard rocker that sounds like one of those mid 90’s bands that jumped on the arena rock band wagon a few years too late. “Roll This Joint” is a hippie laden yet heavy grooved hard rocker with a decent melody and pretty cool chorus. The rhythm tracks reminds a bit of Living Color and is kind of unexpected – best song so far. “Freak Flag” is the first time that some of the classic Quiet Riot sound comes up for air. It’s a pretty good song even though I think the refrain could have been more distinct and striking.”Wasted” is another rocker that belongs back in 1992. It rocks pretty well, but is way too forgettable. It reminds me of today’s Warrant both musically and for the fact that Durbin sounds like Robert Mason here.
“Still Wild” holds the Quiet Riot tradition up some and this slower, quite heavy and groovy rocker that comes with a good chorus that sticks the way old Quiet Riot used to do. It’s a good song and the best one so far. “Make A Way” is a sleazy rocker with a big Aerosmith influence and a nice groove where the verses sounds pretty decent. But the chorus fails miserably and gives the tune the skip button alert. “Renegades” is a pretty good song – it’s mid-tempoed pop-rocker with a very catchy chorus. But that said, if I close my eyes, this could be any melodic rock band out there doing it just as good and probably better. “The Road” is an uptempo ballad where the main melody sticks right away – and so does the über-catchy chorus. It’s very AOR-ish and it fits Durbin’s voice perfectly. A great song and easily the best song on the album. The 70’s grooved, obviously Led Zep influenced “Shame” rocks pretty well and it’s not a crap song, but that said, it’s not that good either. The jam that ends the song is the only really interesting thing about it. Closing track “Knock ’em Down” is rough, raunchy, attitude laden and ballsy. I like the power, intensity and groove but the whole song – and especially the chorus – leaves a whole lot to be desired.
Quiet Riot’s new album isn’t as bad as I thought it would be and it’s way better than the horrible 10. However, it is far from a great album – in fact, the album is extremely underwhelming. First of all, the production is below all criticism. It sounds like a demo, like it was rushed which is very surprising when it comes to veteran musicians with very good and long CV like Banali and Wright – and even Grossi. Second, it doesn’t even sound like Quiet Riot. I don’t know who they sound like because the songs are so main stream, middle-of-the-road and they lack every ounce of identity there is – this could be any new band out there trying to make it. Singer Durbin isn’t bad but he too lacks his own style – the karaoke American Idol in him shines through. Also, he sounds off-key at times – how could that be missed by the guys? And then the songs – they’re all either bad, mediocre and only in a very few cases good. Too few. With no original members left and both albums after DuBrow’s demise fail to deliver the goods, Quiet Riot should be left to rest, in my opinion. Banali, Wright and Grossi are all gifted musicians that should have no problems finding new acts to hook up with if this doesn’t work out – and judging by this album, I don’t think it will.
More Quiet Riot reviews:
1. Can’t Get Enough
3. Roll This Joint
4. Freak Flag
6. Still Wild
7. Make A Way
9. The Road
11. Knock ’em Down