Take right hand and place on volume knob and turn to the right as far as it will go. Load the new Riotgod album, 'Invisible Empire', and take a deep breath. You'll need it.
On first playing you know this is one of those albums that you are going to enjoy more with every listening. It is utterly compelling to listen to. It reminds me of the first time I heard 'Masters Of Reality' by Black Sabbath when as each track rolled out, I couldn't wait to hear the next. So it was with this.
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The Sabbath echoes are not so distant an illusion either. This is an album out of time; it sounds like it could have been recorded in 1974 and there is a real old school heavy rock feel throughout as though NWOBHM was still waiting to be born. Riotgod could have been on the same bill as vintage Deep Purple and Golden Earring and would have been totally understood and appreciated by fans of that time, without question.
There are moments when the best of the Led Zeppelin catalogue is brought crashing around you. It's glorious. Put Robert Plant on lead vocals and you would have no problem at all slotting 'Gas Station Roses' into Led Zep III. But these Zep references are fleeting, as a Metal DNA soup of influences swirl around you in blissful haze of memories of all that was good, that made you sit up and listen to loud guitars in the first place.
It has that feel of an album recorded with all analogue equipment, where the band are separated by acoustic screens and play each song live to record. There is the smell of tobacco smoke and hot valves from old Vox and Orange amps. A vague suggestion of 'Mary Jane' hangs in the air from a late night which turned into another song born from an idle busk that mined the depths of genius.
Scribbled and scrawled sheets of quickly inspired lyrics are stuck with gaffer tape to mike stands, underneath pop-shields made out of a pair of a groupie's tights. An ancient Neumann U87 microphone hangs in anticipation... Mark Sunshine steps up and sings and then it all comes together.
Monster Magnet's Bob Pantello (drums) and Jim Baglino (bass) came up trumps when selecting Sunshine to front Riotgod. He has such a retro-rock voice it is perfect for this fusion of seventies rock with 21st Century edge. His voice is a chameleon. Changing colours from Plant to Ozzy to Jon Anderson and multifarious shades of all inbetween.
The key to all great bands is the rhythm section. This band was born out of one – and it shows. From the opening of the first track, 'Breed', the bedrock is laid down. Add now, the salaciously groove-laden, blues soaked licks of guitarist Garret Sweeney and frankly you have a recipe for sheer bliss for anyone who appreciates hard rock with intelligence and integrity.
It is tempting to navel gaze each track down its composite parts, so good is this, but that would be like blowing the plot of a great film or book.
To put it simply, there isn't a bad track on this album, each has highlights, such as the wonderful 'Fool' and the ridiculously addictive romp that is 'Saving It Up'. But then that is like choosing which one of your kids you love more.
After all the words in this review. Two would have sufficed: Buy this.