Quiet Riot: ‘Road Rage’

QUIET RIOT
ROAD RAGE
Released on August 4, 2017 (Frontiers Music Srl)

Review:
THE HISTORY OF ROAD RAGE:

Quiet Riot are one of those bands that people forget was absolutely huge. It was not out of the question to see small school children in the Quiet Riot Metal Health logo T shirt with the white torso and the black arms back in the mid ’80s. For crying out loud, “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)” was even a song in Footloose! For a while, Quiet Riot were the hair band cheerleaders of heavy metal. But, it was not a long run at the top.

The demise of Quiet Riot had a lot to do with singer Kevin DuBrow‘s attitude towards other bands of the Los Angeles hair metal scene. To say he made enemies in the ’80s among his peers would be an understatement. Eventually, DuBrow was bumped out of his own band for a time replaced by Paul Shortino. But, the band did not stay apart long and returned with a slew of great material with various line-ups throughout the ’90s and 2000s with two members staying central to the plot. Those two members are founding member Kevin DuBrow and long-time drummer, though not original member, Frankie Banali.

In 2007, Kevin DuBrow died of a drug overdose and sent the Quiet Riot machine into a tailspin. Frankie officially ended the band and forged Freakshow. That did not last very long and, ultimately, Quiet Riot was brought back with the blessing of Kevin DuBrow‘s mother.

Though not often given credit for his voice, likely due to the enemies created as mentioned above, filling Kevin DuBrow‘s shoes was not easy. A multitude of names came and went from center stage at a live Quiet Riot show. Veteran vocalist Jizzy Pearl took the wheel for a while before giving his notice. I will concede, I never heard his material with Quiet Riot as the band did do a record or at least an EP. I attempted to find it… No dice. And, if I’m an avid fan and can’t find it, it must be hard to find.

With Jizzy gone, the younger generation was called upon to fill the mighty shoes of the departed DuBrow. Seann Nicols, best known for fronting Steven Adler‘s Adler’s Appetite, filled in and recorded the original version of Road Rage. Before the album hit the shelves, he was gone and was replaced by American Idol standout James Durbin. This got my attention right away.

James Durbin was everything Adam Lambert was given credit for being on American Idol but wasn’t. Because Lambert could hit high notes, he was considered a glam rocker. Yet, the child did not even know the words to the KISS song “Beth” and mused that he did not even know who the legendary shock rockers were in a post Idol interview. Durbin, though, pulled off fantastic versions of classic rock and hevay metal hits including blowing up the stage with Zakk Wylde on guitar one night and putting Rob Halford to shame — I’m sorry but it is true — in the show’s finale performing alongside the mighty Judas Priest. If rock fans wanted a hero off a pop show like Idol, it was not Bo Vice or Adam Lambert. It was James Durbin. Plus, he was a wrestling fan and even had a Hulk Hogan t-shirt thrown at him by the Hulkster himself who later, on Twitter, called Durbin the “future of rock.”

Durbin‘s post Idol album was solid but nothing special in my opinion. “Outcast” was a standout featuring Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe on guitar. But, the rest missed the mark to some extent. This actually hindered my interest in Durbin until he started working with Quiet Riot guitarist Alex Grossi on a project called Maps Of The Hollywood Scars. The sound of that album was pretty good though somewhat experimental. The decision to move Durbin into the Quiet Riot fold excited me and here we are.

Before I can finally start talking about the music on the record, it is important to ntoe that the entire record was completed with Seann Nicols on vocals. Being as honest I can can be, with the finished project, I can’t picture Nicols singing it. I certainly can’t picture Kevin DuBrow singing it either. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I simply wish I could hear both versions of this record to compare and contrast and see just how many changes it went under from the Nicols version to the Durbin version. That would be a truly interesting side by side listen. Here’s hoping someone leaks it on YouTube in full so we can do just that. If it does, I’ll review the Nicols version.

And now, at long last, the album review.

I will do a track by track review. But, I think ultimately your mind is made up on this record based on if you took the time and money to purchase it or not. If you did, you probably found things to like. if you didn’t and streamed it for free or downloaded it illegally, you’ll find things to hate. Here’s the kicker – NEITHER side of that coin is right. I often have said I judge new albums by older bands by if I’d like the band if it was the first time I had heard them… So, take the rest of this review to heart. It is by a guy who, yes, bought it and was going to find something to like. But, is honest enough to see the flaws as well.

TRACK BY TRACK REVIEW:

1. “Can’t Get Enough” sounds absolutely nothing like classic Quiet Riot. With that said, it IS one of my favorite songs on the disc. In fact, it was the second song released as a single and I think it should have been the first one. James Durbin‘s storytelling voice and his incredible ability to drive a melody home makes this track among the best on the disc… Possibly the best!

2. “Getaway” starts out like Ahmed the Dead Terrorist‘s theme song from a Jeff Dunham show. The song itself, once it starts, finds its way to a great rhythm. The verse is not as strong as the chorus. But, the chorus is extremely catchy and strong.

3. “Roll This Joint” is a catchy rocker that reminds me of the Black Crowes for some reason. Nothing wrong with that.

4. “Freak Flag” is the most classic Quiet Riot sounding song in places. I stress, in places. It tries to meld James Durbin‘s youthful melodies in the verse making one remember his cool version of a Muse song on American Idol while the chorus is pure classic Quiet Riot. The gravel latent voice of the spoken word sounds like the post-guitar solo work of Kevin DuBrow on “Metal Health.” It is a really good song and probably really kicks ass live. But, the production really keeps it from its full potential. This is the case with the album as a whole.

5. “Wasted” is among my favorites on the album. From the almost spoken word vocals of the verses to the best backing vocals on the album, this is the best lyrical content on the album. It makes me wonder if the song goes back and forth between Frankie ripping on his critics and also being harsh on himself. “You change your name, third time’s the charm, we all know who you are…” Freakshow, anyone? Interesting lyrical content. Powerful guitar work by Alex Grossi, and bad ass vocals.

6. “Still Wild” continues the hard rocking edge. This is a well written song. I’d argue the pre-chorus and the chorus are far stronger than the verse. But, that is a common thread on the album.

7. “Make a Way” has all the makings of a Boston sounding classic… And then the chorus falls flat. Seriously, it is the opposite of the whole record. You’ve got a great intro, a great verse, and then a bomb of chorus that does nothing for me. It is such a shame.

8. “Renegades” is a lot like “Can’t Get Enough” in that it sounds absolutely nothing like classic Quiet Riot and it blows my mind. If “Can’t Get Enough” is my favorite song on the record, “Renegades” is a close second.

9. “The Road” is a ballad. Or, at least, a softer song. It obviously is about the trouble of being in a touring band. It isn’t bad.

10. “Shame” is next. It is a shame. This one does nothing for me.

11. “Knock ‘Em Down” is a good way to finish the album. It is a strong song but not the best one on the album. It has a great chorus, as a lot on the album does, but gets lost in itself musically by not following the format. Still has strong lyrical content and a good fighting spirit. It is also a good showing by the backing vocals which are not as strong on other songs.

OVERALL:

Road Rage is a new album by a veteran band with a new singer who is half the age of its two long-standing members in Chuck Wright and Frankie Banali. He’s younger than Alex Grossi as well though I will say I have no clue how old Grossi is… I just know I like a whole lot of the things he’s been involved in! I think the fact that it is a veteran band with a young singer describes the sound. You have elements of classic Quiet Riot with a vocalist who brings you more of a new generation of melodic hard rock. It is very much ’70s hard rock mixed with 21st century bands like Hinder. And, it works… Mostly.

THE POSITIVES:

The positives of the album are a large number of well written songs with great musicianship by the great Frankie Banali who still bangs on that drum like it is 1983, Chuck Wright who plays bass incredibly well and deserves more credit, and Alex Grossi who is a diamond in the rough… Vocally, James Durbin delivers a performance like he should have on his original debut album, which felt put on and forced. Suits made that record, except for a few exceptions, and that is why it flopped with an audience that was ready to embrace it. On Road Rage, Durbin IS Durbin. And, that is all his fans ever wanted.

THE NEGATIVE:

The negatives? Production! I mean, that is such a problem here. You have a band — on the same label — called Crazy Lixx who release a slick album that is as strongly produced and rivals the sound quality of Def Leppard. This sounds a lot more raw than that. Even albums like 1993’s Terrified, which may or may not have been released in the US at the time given the musical climate, had sharper production than Road Rage. There are some good songs on that album but Road Rage has much more rich content.

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM:

The elephant in the room is Kevin DuBrow not being on the album. He’s not on it due to a bad case of death. Why would the haters not want Frankie Banali behind the drums anymore just because Kevin died? I don’t understand that logic at all. Frankie continued with a singer that brings a youthful feeling to a veteran band. If he wanted a band that could sound just like classic Quiet Riot, he’d have found out who the hell sings for 5 Star Hooker and hired him because he sounds just like Kevin. Clearly, that is not what he was after. And, that should not be what Quiet Riot fans want either. Move forward… While loving the past… But, move forward.

Track List:
01. Can’t Get Enough
02. Getaway
03. Roll This Joint
04. Freak Flag
05. Wasted
06. Still Wild
07. Make A Way
08. Renegades
09. The Road
10. Shame
11. Knock Em Down

Band Members:
Frankie Banali – drums
Alex Grossi – guitars
Chuck Wright – bass
James Durbin – vocals

Production:
Produced by Neil Citron
Vocals recorded by Rick Vierra

Band Websites:
Official Website
Facebook

Reviewed by wrestlingepicenter.com for Sleaze Roxx, August 2017

Quiet Riot‘s “Can’t Get Enough” video:

Quiet Riot – “Can’t Get Enough” (Official Video)

Subscribe To Be Alerted When We Add New Videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers / From the album ROAD RAGE.

Quiet Riot‘s “Freak Flag” song:

Quiet Riot – “Freak Flag” (Official Audio)

Subscribe To Be Alerted When We Add New Videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers / From the album ROAD RAGE.

Quiet Riot‘s “Wasted” song:

Quiet Riot – “Wasted” (Official Audio)

Subscribe To Be Alerted When We Add New Videos – http://radi.al/SubscribeFrontiers / From the album ROAD RAGE.