REVIEW: STRIKER – “Striker”
Edmonton legends Striker are back! No, not the religious rock band from the 80’s. Striker are an incredible traditional metal band, who have been sharing their fist-pumping, headbanging brand of heavy metal for close to a decade.
Their latest is a nine-track self-titled effort that is their fifth studio album, due out on February 24th. This is the second independent release from their own label, Record Breaking Records, and their third time working with the legendary Fredrik Nordstrom. The production of this album is excellent; it’s clean, well-balanced, and mixed very well, the end result being a pleasure to listen to. This is a special one, folks.
Firstly, I love the look of the album artwork. The band has a history of some pretty epic album covers, but this one is different. We have a black and white cover this time, with three swords crossed over each other. Each sword has dramatic embellishments that are unique, the one bearing the big ram skull holding the focal point of the three. A fanged snake envelops itself around all three weapons, with its mouth wide open, poised to attack. Previous albums have had a very bold band logo, but with this one it’s almost transparent in the top left corner. I’m curious as to why the band have taken such a different approach to their artwork. What’s the statement here?
I’ve always loved clean vocals and a strong high range (being a massive Iron Maiden fan sealed that deal for me!). Frontman Dan Cleary has this in spades. Launching into the first track of the album, “Former Glory” and the first word that comes to mind is POWER! By the time we get to the chorus, Striker really are taking their power back with lyrics like “it’s the return to my former glory…I’m back again” This song is a great introduction to the album, and showcases what Striker have always been good at – commanding the listener’s attention with a BIG sonic presence.
“Pass Me By” is an interesting song at first listen. It’s traditional heavy metal, but with just a dash of what sounds like a hardcore influence! The lyrics are very empowering, forcing a lesson of independence onto the receiver. “Be yourself when I’m not around”, Cleary chants through the chorus. Despite this, it’s not an aggressive song so to speak, but more encouraging. Even the riffs of the chorus sounds like they have the potential to be a solid hardcore breakdown. I’d love to see Hatebreed cover this song!
My favourite track on the album is “Born to Lose.” Musically it has it all; it’s incredibly hooky, with the combination of riffs and Cleary’s vocals really selling it. One of the things I’ve always admired about Striker is how proud they are to wear their influences on their sleeves. I can hear how some of the big names in metal history have left their mark on the band, especially in what guitarist Tim Brown does. The solo on “Born to Lose” is just so… uplifting! I can’t not smile as I make my way through this song.
“Shadows in the Light” is another excellent track on the record, and a very close second favourite of mine. Starting things off with drums and an awesome bass line, this track captures EXACTLY who Striker are. Everything about this track is BIG – big drums, big solos, big vocals. It all comes together seamlessly, providing the listener with the perfect snapshot into the band themselves. “Shadows in the Light” reminds me a lot of the band’s ‘City of Gold’ release, their critically acclaimed album in 2014.
This album is packed with energy and passion. The consistent message of living life on one’s own terms comes up time after time, and it’s refreshing to hear something so encouraging in a world that’s sometimes a bit too dark.
It’s an incredible album! Knowing how hard the band has worked, and how much they’ve developed over the years, this album feels to me like Striker have come home. They are unabashedly proud of who they’ve become; a hard-working, life-loving, no-bullshit group of dudes who love to party and play heavy metal for the world. The bottom line is this: you can’t have a bad time with Striker. If I could offer any recommendation, it would be that this album pairs exceptionally well with your favourite beer and your favourite mates.