The open road. For almost all aging rockers, the very concept is synonymous with freedom and vitality, the kind of place where the soul can heal following a tragedy and return from the abyss with renewed strength and, with any luck, maybe even the creative spark needed to produce a late period masterpiece like the Monkees’ Pool It! or the Beach Boys’ Still Cruisin’ (wait, these are terrible). With the upcoming April release of Road Rage, which boasts an appalling Mad Max-inspired cover, 80s icons Quiet Riot seem poised to reconnect with fans by capitalizing on their endless appetite for nostalgia and questionable “metal health,” a term coined famously by the band’s classic 1983 lineup. Perhaps somewhat fittingly, Road Rage’s debut single “The Seeker” is a carpet bagger of a track, notable only for its chameleon-like ability to don all the trappings of rock while missing the heart and soul of a once proud act.
“The Seeker” isn’t helped by its limp production and embarrassing lyrics. Granted, aging poorly is practically a hallmark of all musicians worth their salt, yet Quiet Riot push this sad cliché to dizzying new heights. So after almost 40 years in the business, what are Quiet Riot “seeking” here anyways? Well, sex, for starters, and I’m sure a quick payday wouldn’t hurt either. The song’s opening verse speaks of embarking on a journey “to heal my soul,” possibly in reference to original vocalist Kevin DuBrow’s untimely death in 2007. The chorus then takes a raunchy turn for the sheets as the band searches for “a love that won’t fade away.” Quiet Riot’s current lead singer, who apparently didn’t even warrant a mention in the press release for Road Rage, roars excitedly about “gettin’ tangled up in the mystery” of doing the nasty with his lover, describing her as the “grail of knowledge,” and him as the “seeker’s sage.” Seek on, my man! That sexy turn of phrase does make me wonder one thing, though. How are these middle-aged men still “gettin’ tangled up in the mystery” of a woman’s body? I guess they must’ve been late bloomers or something. As bad as these lyrics are, “The Seeker” might’ve been forgivable if the music wasn’t so plodding and dull. The Quiet Riot of old crackled with spirit and energy. To put it in layman’s terms, they rocked. “The Seeker”, however, sounds like a cheap Journey outtake, a mess of tinny instruments and tuneless vocals. Forget road rage, this is the music of a band that drives with caution and courtesy. You want to merge, they’ll wave you in, no problem. They don’t seek oblivion, that’s for sure. “So you think my singin’s out of time, it makes me money,” remarked the late Kevin DuBrow on Quiet Riot’s hit 1983 cover of “Cum on Feel the Noize”, daringly questioning the group’s critics, albeit through the lyrics of Slade. In 2017 Quiet Riot’s vocal duties remain as shaky as ever, but unlike previous incarnations of the band, this time around I suspect it won’t make them money. Even fans with the shakiest of metal health should know better at this point. Steer clear or this one just might “drive you mad,” as the old saying goes. Heck, I plan on seeking help from the nearest metal health professional for even listening to this shit!