Greatest Debut Albums: Riot City – Burn the Night.

( Let’s go a little more modern with a great debut album from the past three years. This time it’s Burn the Night, the 2019 debut from Riot City.

What Kind of Vibe is Riot City?

At first, I was thinking “Wow, Riot City gives me Riot vibes.” Riot is an 80s band from New York City that different periods before settling in the speed metal and power metal lanes. The thing about each of those periods is that they each had some pretty damn good stuff. Their first two albums were hard rock but had speed metal songs on both in the late 1970s.

However, Riot wasn’t to be exact. It’s just that the opening track “Warrior of Time” rides like a Riot song. No, Riot City reminded me more of a speedier Judas Priest. They’re as if you mixed Priest’s Painkller and Defenders of the Faith together, tossed in some Battalions of Fear from Blind Guardian, and gave it a gallon of 80s bite.

Riot City is as if Judas Priest played just their high energy hits and we’ve got some King Diamond or Lizzy Borden mixed in where the lead singer will ride the peak of their shrieking. It all makes for a fast, heavy, and sometimes epic listen. The way that the vocals are used from track to track takes the album on some other direction with a familiar conductor.

The band has been around since 2011 and just released their debut in 2019. They had plenty of time to practice, write songs, round them out, and perform with other projects before they floated out Burn the Night and that was time well spent.

If I had to firmly place the sound, it’s towards the end of Halford’s first run with Judas Priest and some of Halford’s solo albums—but faster. The sound is as if you had all of the fast Priest songs in simplest terms. I know many enjoy the slower, more meaningful Priest songs but the faster ones really rock, folks.

So, imagine if Judas Priest played Defenders of the Faith, Painkiller, Redeemers of Souls, and Firepower—and only those albums but faster. That’s pretty much Riot City. It’s not the best description but that’s what I’d go with for someone more familiar with Judas Priest or older metal.

Riot City - Burn the Night.

Great Debuts: “Burn the Night”

Talk about an A+ debut! Burn the Night is just about a perfect debut for a metal band in their vein. There’s the foundation of “We play fast, heavy as hell metal music. We’re loud and heavy” with a little of the unexpected. After the first two songs, you get the idea that this might be a pretty fast affair.

You’d be correct as the album is 37-minutes. However, the third track changes things up a bit. “In the Dark” starts off sounding like a ballad—which I’m not too big on—then it really starts to rock. I mean, it really starts to rock once it kicks into gear. Then you know “Oh, this whole thing is a speedy affair. Nice.”

Throughout the album, the band just rides tracks. The percussion and bass are holding the pace of these songs tightly because the guitars can go on their own at times. Sometimes, the guitars can ride a little hard then the vocals glues all of it together.

Speaking of the vocals, Cale Savy did the damn thing on this album. He had moments where he brought tracks into this epic realm outside of the speed fest approach. Apparently, he’s handed over vocal duties so we’ll see if they keep the explosive approach of this debut or make something entirely different.

Burn the Night is the debut from a young band made of seasoned musicians who have been in other bands in Canada. While each player has other projects that either came before Riot City or are more active, this band has a lot of potential to deliver a strong follow-up based off just the debut.

To sum up the album: it’s what Painkiller III or Painkiller IV would’ve been if Judas Priest made the first Painkiller a series of albums. I hate to keep comparing Riot City to Judas Priest but there are times in this album where it just really hits: “Priest”.

Strength of the Opener: “Warrior of Time”

I’d say that “Warrior of Time” is a good opener for Burn the Night. It’s an explosive track that doesn’t even display Cale’s vocals at their peak but it rides for almost six minutes. It has this pace that really establishes what you’re getting into on this album. Sometimes you want to be surprised while other times you just want to know what kind of party it is.

Hell, sometimes you just want consistency. I’m big consistency in a band and throughout an album. Into the Night is a very consistent album and “Warrior of Time” really sets that up. If I had to pick a different opener then “Steel Rider” or “The Hunter” would be my closest picks. However, “Warrior of Time” is the strongest track of the three.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.