Home > Music > Riot – The Privilege of Power (1990)

Riot – The Privilege of Power (1990)

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I used to use this album’s cover as a background image for my PC. This may have mistakenly lead me to believe I’d already written about The Privilege of Power. Stranger things have happened here on Invisible Blog.

The legends and sagas foretell that on The Privilege Of Power, Riot builds upon the speed/early power metal sound they’d adopted on their previous album (Thundersteel), but also makes forays with the help of Tower of Power into what, for want of a better term, we’re going to call “pimp metal” (which is almost as good a name for a non-genre as “burp metal“). This is the only instance I can think of where a metal band used a funk/soul type horn section to back themselves up, and it directly inspired me to add some brass samples to one of my own tracks back in 2014. You know this album has to have some value based on that, right?

The brass elements here are actually a bit sparser than the buzz would have you believe; they only really play a significant role in two tracks (“On Your Knees” and “Killer”), and are limited to brief stabs and accents elsewhere. In short – The Privilege of Power leans more on its metal side, and in particular on the talents of the band’s main vocalist Tony Moore. Skilled vocalists aren’t exactly rare in the world of power metal, but it’s still good to hear that Moore contributes strong vocal melodies to the content here. The rest of the band, though, while similarly skilled at their instruments and capable of writing good metal music in a way that admittedly doesn’t lend itself well to this blog’s format… vacillates on the songwriting. It’s a problem of similar scope to what I was complaining about last Sunday with Xibalba, but the issue here is the complete opposite. Riot excels at writing fast, vibrant, especially metal oriented songs, but falters on the ballads, which are as sugary as they are generic. I’ve heard far worse, but they come off more as an attempt to pander to a Nielsen-selected pop/rock listening audience than as valuable (if slower and softer) contributions to the album. Another recent comparison comes to mind in the form of Gargoyle, who figured out how to successfully incorporate normal rock into their music, although it took them a few albums of effort.

Luckily, when Riot stays away from the torch ballad Kool-Aid, they do very well for themselves in the USPM ecosphere. Songs here aren’t especially complicated, but I did notice that this is one of those rare cases where aesthetic shifts (read: sampled/sound collage interludes) actually add to the experience. That at least gets peoples’ attention. However, you should definitely stay for The Privilege of Power‘s entertaining riffcraft and songwriting.

Highlights: “On Your Knees”, “Killer”, “Racing with the Devil On A Spanish Highway”

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