In a year full of comeback albums, its only right that 80s Hair-Metal stalwarts Quiet Riot return with their new album. As always with Quiet Riot, the only constants are drama and an ever changing line-up.
The album was originally intended for an earlier release with singer Sean Nicols; however Nicols only lasted five shows and a few months before being given the boot. He has now been replaced by American Idol alumni James Durbin who re-wrote and re-recorded the vocals. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing - Durbin’s vocals are a good fit and they don’t sound miles away from the late Kevin DuBrow.
Although it would be easy to lump them in with other 80s glam metal bands, the fact is that their commercial peak ended well before Grunge even had the chance to kill it - the last time any Quiet Riot album broke the top 100 was in 1986! It might then come as a surprise that Quiet Riot , now led solely by drummer Frankie Banali, have never stopped recording and releasing albums, with “Road Rage” being their 13th.
The album starts well, opening with the upbeat rocker “Can’t Get Enough” while “Getaway” begins with moody sitar before settling into an enjoyable, Aerosmith sounding groove. “Roll This Joint” could easily be a Sammy Hagar song with a touch of Humble Pie while “Wasted” sounds almost identical to classic LA Guns, just with less energy.
While this solidly 80s sound will surely please most old-school fans, it might also be the albums biggest weakness. At this point in the game I don’t think anybody listens to Quiet Riot for new musical ideas but, even so, the lack of originality is still a problem.
Kicking off with Banali’s powerful drumming, “Still Wild” is one of the best tracks on the album, with a dirty riff and a smooth chorus. “Make a Way” is a danceable hard-rocker with some slide guitar thrown in for good measure. You can’t say that there is much variety here either; with most of the songs blending into the same sonic soup after a few listens. Energy levels sound sadly lacking, even when the songs sound stronger and the lacklustre mix certainly doesn’t help.
By the time we reach ballad “The Road” the band are already running on fumes, musically and lyrically (“Running blind in the dark, we are together apart”).
Ending the album with the almost funky, Skid Row light fist-pumper “Knock Em Down” is a good move but nothing amazing.
Although “Road Rage” is not a bad record, it’s certainly an uninspired one. With the current glam/sleaze metal scene currently enjoying a bit of resurgence, it might be better to look to younger bands with some fire left, such as Shiraz Lane and Santa Cruz (or even Reckless Love if you just want to dance around on a mindless sugar rush!). Sadly, based on this new album it seems that Quiet Riot may have reached the end of their road.