QUIET RIOT – Road Rage (2017 Frontiers Japanese version)
We’ve always been honest but truthful Quiet Riot fans here at LeBrain HQ. We’ve been banging our heads for almost 35 years now, and they included some ups and some downs. The death of Kevin DuBrow was heartbreaking. Some of our Quiet Riot reviews haven’t been the most popular, but we have always maintained an open mind. Frankie Banali’s resurrected Quiet Riot with no original members left a bad taste in the mouth, especially after management attempted to re-write the band’s history on Wikipedia. Pages were edited to indicate that the Metal Health album was Quiet Riot’s debut, seemingly in order to qualify Banali as an original member. Ugly and undignified; but music talks and bullshit walks. Quiet Riot’s first post-DuBrow always was 2014’s 10, with Love/Hate singer Jizzy Pearl taking over as the band’s sixth lead singer. It wasn’t that good and it’s conceivable that the band know it. No physical edition was ever released, and you can’t even buy a download anymore.
So, it’s delightful to be able to say that the new 2017 Quiet Riot album called Road Rage is…not bad at all! Actually quite good!
It’s even been rocky since 10. Jizzy Pearl left amicably, to be replaced by ex-Steven Adler singer Seann Nichols. They recorded a new album, even released one full song online…and then suddenly Nichols was out! American Idol alumnus James Durbin was hired in short order, and re-wrote and re-recorded the entire album.
Skeptics, be silent. Our fair and balanced take on Quiet Riot in the past should speak volumes for the review you are about to read. It would be far easier to mock Quiet Riot for their choice of a TV show contestant as a frontman, but it would be grossly inaccurate.
Durbin’s youthful enthusiasm will either win you over, or leave you complaining that he’s “not enough like DuBrow” and it “doesn’t sound like Quiet Riot”. Here’s the truth — that’s good. We’ve endured one soundalike singer after another. Durbin has a fresh spin, and there’s little question the guy is just pleased as hell to be fronting this band! he gives it all on “Can’t Get Enough”, a new uptempo Quiet Riot party tune. Co-writer Neil Citron must have written the riff with a classic Quiet Riot vibe in mind.
Then it’s down weird street a little bit with the Indian-flavoured intro to “Get Away”. It takes a moment, but once you realize “Hey, this isn’t the same old Quiet Riot”, you will be able to realize that “Get Away” is a damn good song. It’s actually quite melodic rock, but with a Zeppelin groove. Then it’s the pro-weed “Roll This Joint”, which has a seriously decent Zep vibe too. The lyrics are pretty cheesey (“I’m with Cheech and Chong and Willie and Marley!”) but you gotta cut Durbin some slack. He’s young and it’ll connect with some of that crowd.
The thing is, you just can’t dislike Durbin. He wins you over, especially on the lead single “Freak Flag”. This is the most Quiet Riot sounding track of the disc, but with Durbin it’s no carbon copy. “Freak Flag” kicks ass and you can imagine it working great live. Same with “Wasted”. That chorus (“Take a shot!”) grows fast. Even the ballad “The Road” doesn’t suck. Through the 11 tracks, it’s clear who the star on this album is. The new frontman rose to the challenge. In the back, Frankie Banali’s providing the Quiet Riot backbeat; the linkage between past and present. Guitarist Alex Grossi also turns in a worthy performance, and Chuck Wright (bass) has a co-write on the slippy-slidey “Still Wild”. Despite the circumstances in the making of the album, Quiet Riot sound more focused than they have in decades.
Frankie’s revival of Quiet Riot has been going seven years straight, through five singers before getting James Durbin on board. Only the singer has changed; Grossi and Wright have stood by through thick and thin. No matter what, Quiet Riot will continue. Fans should be advise that the first album with Durbin has turned out great, and let’s hope this is a long-term lineup. He’s got the necessary range to sing vintage DuBrow, but in his own voice. And that voice is growing quite compelling. Not every song is killer, but the majority of the album gets the job done. Enough to justify putting your money down.
The Japanese version of Road Rage has an exclusive bonus track. It is an acoustic version of “Make A Way”, one of the heavy album tracks. This isn’t a crappy remix, but an entirely new recording of the song in acoustic arrangement. It’s different enough that it actually seems like a new song. Bonus track: win!*
As Durbin sings, “Take a shot!” Give Road Rage a road test. Just don’t “Knock ‘Em Down”, or you will have to “Get Away”. The quality of this album in terms of sound and songs gives the new Quiet Riot a level of credibility they didn’t have before. Easily their best album since 1993’s Terrified or even before. Let your “Freak Flag” fly, James Durbin!
* Former singer Seann Nichols made a comment in an interview that implied the version of Road Rage with his vocals was released in Japan; this is unfortunately not the case. If you have any Seann Nichols versions of the Road Rage songs, please contact us here. We are dying to review them in contrast to the final album!