Sadly, I’ve been a little out of touch in regards to the traditional heavy metal scene over the last few years, and Canada’s STRIKER had regretfully never crossed my path before. I didn’t have any idea what I’d been missing until I popped in their newest, the eponymous Striker (out February 24 via Record Breaking Records.) Spoiler alert: I now have a discography that I am going to get to dive into and really enjoy!
Their sound is an interesting mixture of traditional heavy metal, power, and a bit of thrash, with a hint of some of the fun excesses of the 1980’s hair metal scene, and it works on every level. Tim Brown’s guitar work is insane and frenetic, his solos are simply amazing, and he definitely is not shy with a pinch harmonic here or there. Songs like “Former Glory”, “Freedom’s Call”, and “Born to Lose” are huge standouts for me based on his guitar sound alone. Adam Brown (drums) and William Wallace (bass) completely crush it with some very solid drumming and bass lines – the intro to “Shadows In the Light” is nice and crunchy, and sets up the rest of the song beautifully.
Dan Cleary’s vocals are the biggest hook for me on this album; no matter what song I’m listening to, his voice suits it perfectly. Whether he’s destroying a thrashy song (“Pass Me By”) while channeling his inner Joey Belladonna or singing on a more rock oriented track like “Rock the Night”, he absolutely kills it with his amazing range, rich timbre, and always has complete control of his singing. After a few weeks with Striker, Dan is definitely one of my favorite North American vocalists, and that’s saying a lot. The sparing use of background gang vocals works well – they’re gritty and raw and really sound great on this album, as do the more polished choruses.
The flow of the album is interesting – it flips back and forth from a more traditional hard rock/metal sound to a thrashy song and then back again, but it really works well for this release. To be honest, the only track that didn’t do just a whole lot for me was “Cheating Death”, which is a short fifty-six second instrumental piece with a ton of atmosphere that feels a bit out of place with the intense nature of the rest of the album. It’s a nice aural palate cleanser before launching into “Shadows In the Light”, but with just nine total tracks on this album, I would have loved to have heard another facemelter in its place.
That said, this needs to be a day one buy or pre-order for anyone who loves intense, shreddy, powerful heavy metal. I wasn’t really aware of STRIKER before now, but they turned me into a huge fan before I was done with the first listen of the album. Do yourself a favor and don’t sleep on this one.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM – THIS ALBUM IS THAT GOOD!