Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Album Review: Quiet Riot - Road Rage

If there is one thing about the history of metal that is more depressing than anything else, it's that Quiet Riot was the first metal band to top the charts. It's not that they were terrible (I never listened to them back theen, so I can't say), it's insulting to the genre for them to have that honor because it's the only piece of their legacy.... other than people dying. Seriously, can anyone think of a single thing to say about Quiet Riot other than their chart success and their losses? I certainly can't. They have been resting on the laurels of being in the right place at the right time for decades, and now they are finally getting around to doing what bands are supposed to do and release a new album.

But they can't even do that without controversy. "Road Rage", as you hear it, is not how it was recorded. The band had a different singer who recorded the entire album, only to then get fired once the press releases were already being sent out to the world. So the album got postponed while the band recruited a former Americal Idol contestant to come in and re-record all the vocals. That process did not bode well for the album.

And boy was that omen telling.

Let me save you some time, if you're having a busy day when you read this. "Road Rage" is an abomination, and quite possibly the worst album of the year.

If you're still reading, let's dive a bit deeper into the album. Listening to "Road Rage", you wouldn't know that the last thirty years ever happened, in more than one respect. The songwriting on the album is thoroughly lackluster, with riffs that serve as good background noise, and vocal melodies that are right out of the days before metal bands bothered to write real hooks. Quiet Riot is still existing in a world where playing a loud electric guitar was enough to amaze people. It's not, and despite being veterans, I can't even say this is an album of well put together, but less exciting, songs. These songs lack any creative spark at all, and can't make up for the routine sameness of the material with hooks or little details that stand out and rescue the songs. It's a tuneless album that's as sophisticated and adept as the wretched cover art. Guys in their 50s singing about rolling joints isn't metal, it's sad.

Sad is the word that most comes up when I think about this record. Next on the docket is new singer James Durbin. I won't hold his past against him, but his performance here is horrible. When the first single was released, it wasn't until the second chorus came along that I realized he wasn't a female guest singer. His high-pitched shriek is annoying, shrill, and gets old very fast. When he tries to sound tough, it's even worse, as his voice doesn't have an ounce of aggression to it. He is completely miscast on this album, and if anything he drags the sub-par compositions down even further.

But worst of all is the production of the album. Despite being a 'legendary' band, and having decades of experience in the industry, "Road Rage" sounds like a local band's demo. The sound is thin, muffled, and lacking any of the punch or clarity that a metal record of today needs. You can't even call it a throwback to the old days, because most of the big records from the 80s sounded better than this. I don't know who let this album be released like this, but there are serious hearing issues among the people responsible for making this record.

So we have an album that is poorly written, poorly sung, and poorly recorded. It's a trinity of mistakes that amounts to a single thing; "Road Rage" is one of the most inexcusably awful records of the year. Other bands from their time make good records. Other bands on their label make good records. They have no excuse for this record being so bad. If they were anyone but Quiet Riot, I don't think this would even be released.

Whatever you do, avoid hearing a note of this one. It will only ruin your mood.

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