Quiet Riot - QR III review

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Band: Quiet Riot
Album: QR III
Release date: July 1986

01. Main Attraction
02. The Wild And The Young
03. Twilight Hotel
04. Down And Dirty
05. Rise Or Fall
06. Put Up Or Shut Up
07. Still Of The Night
08. Bass Case
09. The Pump
10. Slave To Love
11. Helping Hands

Come on feel the… synth?

Taking the criticisms that Condition Critical was too much of a clone of Metal Health for its own good, Quiet Riot shook things up for their awkwardly titled fifth album QR III and sound like a totally different band. Embracing keyboards and with a less party hard focus, the band grow up and mature in sound and style. While it wasn't the success required to launch the band to the forefront of the pack, it did show that the band weren't fully typecast like the common consensus suggests; at least this era of the band went down swinging.

QR III is a mixture of Metal Health-style tracks hidden beneath synthesizers, the band trying to co-opt popular sounds and perform contemporary style songs; each aspect has its advantages and shortcomings, resulting in an album that I'm more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to. Sounding like a breath of fresh air compared to Condition Critical (though sounding dated by today's standards), it gave false hope to the band that they could move forward with their audience, shedding their typecast nature.

The band do broaden their horizons on the record, moving on from cartoony glam metal to songs that are AOR-based ("The Wild And The Young"), blues rock ("The Pump"), instrumentals ("Bass Case") and most importantly, no Slade covers. The band seem to recognise what they did wrong on Condition Critical and do try to make amends here. This transition is a mixed bag that leans more on the good side than the bad side, featuring some tracks that are good without caveats ("The Wild And The Young", "Twlight Hotel" and "Slave To Love") and suggest there could have been a future for the band, though only if they were content with being a part of the pack rather than leading it.

Tracks like "Rise Or Fall" do tend to show the use of synthesizers as a gimmick; while they sound okay, they come off like they have been thrown on top of a song like a blanket rather than woven into the song to become a part of it. As you listen to the track you can hear a Metal Health-style song just with added synths to try and help differentiate it and play catch up with where many of their audience had moved on to. This is a common theme for much of the record, with tracks like "Put Up Or Shut Up" and "Down And Dirty" having the same feel and aesthetic.

The band do put their all into it and take the throw of the dice seriously, with Dubrow giving each song a vocal performance with conviction and determination to turn the ship around. Banali is equally adept at electronic drums as he is on a standard kit; though he would always return to Quiet Riot, he does show why he became an in-demand musical mercenary when the band's flame went out. Wright replaces Sarzo and with the band bending over backwards to ensure it isn't seen as a step down, he is given a solo track, prominence in the mix and several songs where he can show off his muscles somewhat. The results maybe varied but the attempts were genuine.

What ultimately condemned this record, however, is the lack of a hit; the songs are good no doubt, but nothing that grabs a firm hold on you and demands your attention. It has a loose grip on the back of your shirt at best; every so often you notice it there, but your focus is absorbed by something else. Given Quiet Riot's fading fortunes and profile at the time, it proved not to be enough and Dubrow would leave in short order (though would return, though merely as an extended glory run rather than a serious project).

It made for a pleasant surprise and palette cleanser after the preceding two records and does have enough moments that it will make you question what could have been for the band. QR III won't break your preconceptions of the band, but it will at the very least break off a few large pieces so that the light begins to seep through; if you are at a loss for what to listen to and you want a left-field choice, I would suggest giving this a go.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 5
Production: 7


Written on 06.12.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.

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