Let us give credit where credit is due. Riot was one of the heaviest American bands of the early ’80s. Riot’s 1981 release, Fire Down Under, is now regarded as one of the best heavy metal albums of that year (a “classic” even?). Restless Breed, released by Elektra records, was the follow-up to Fire Down Under. Prior to recording the album, Riot’s vocalist Guy Speranza left the band (he quit the business for good and ended up as an exterminator). Rhett Forrester replaced Speranza as Riot’s front man.
I got to say, Restless Breed is kind of a weak album. Forrester performance isn’t to blame. He’s a capable singer with two distinct “voices”. For the heavier stuff, his voice is a bit coarse and tough sounding. For the melodic stuff, he sounds kind of like Paul Rodgers of Bad Company. I guess my problem with Restless Breed is it lacks a sense of excitement and doesn’t have any magnificent tracks. The energy of Fire Down Under is sorely missed, and there are too many lighter tunes and not enough heavy ones.
Things start off well enough. Hard Lovin’ Man opens the album with some fine riffage. This is probably my favorite track. Next up is CIA; another heavy tune and a decent one at that (penned by Forrester). Then, things start to slide in my opinion. The third track, Restless Breed, is just WAY too close to Bad Company’s song Bad Company. I just can’t get past it. Guitarist Mark Reale, who wrote Restless Breed, must have had Bad Company in mind, or at least in his subconscious. Side one closes with two less-than-stellar tracks; a cover of When I Was Young and a repetitive rocker called Loanshark.
Side two languishes much like the latter half of side one. Adrenaline seems to be lacking and one wonders if the loss of Speranza took the wind out of Riot. Or could it be that a conscious attempt at a more commercial sound took Riot away from what they did best? Ah well… I consider Restless Breed to be a misfire. My score: C+