Striker – Stand in the Fire (Record Breaking)

Sunday, 31st January 2016
Rating: 9.5/10

Establishing themselves over the past decade as one of Canada’s new breed in the heavy/power metal scene, Edmonton’s Striker pride themselves on street level songwriting and a riff/hook/melody combination that’s tough to miss. Taking a risk in developing their own independent label Breaking Records, Stand in the Fire showcases confidence in their craft, embodying a lot of the old 80’s denim and leather brigade spirit while delivering tasty harmonies on both vocal/music fronts to the current generation of metal-minded.

Self-recording yet wisely allowing Dream Evil’s Frederik Nordstrom to mix the album (he produced their previous City of Gold opus), the band come out all guns blazing for the high energy opening anthem “Phoenix Rising” – as you immediately get swept up by the larger than life multi-part chorus harmonies (Sunset Strip influenced for sure) and searing layered guitar work. The follow up “Out for Blood” has an interesting blend of Accept/Annihilator-like charge in the rhythms, a drum gallop as if heading into a stampede plus a saxophone solo before the melodic axe break takes command. These musicians really excel at the laser sharp focus and attention to detail that makes the songwriting memorable – fading out endings or stopping on surprising spots to allow certain elements to shine as “The Iron Never Lies” and closing, emotive ballad “One Life” exemplify (featuring a cool clean picking guitar movement).

Dan Clearly has the requisite pipes plus personality to front Striker and lead them to large stages – images flood my head to everyone from Sebastian Bach and Tony Harnell to the long lost Carl Albert of Vicious Rumors throughout these 11 tracks. Beyond which those who love a lot of fiery, melodic power metal lead work with nods to everyone from George Lynch and Gus G or Judas Priest/ Iron Maiden twin combinations will love the aural treats “Escape from Shred City” and the double bass fueled title track. Veteran drummer Randy Black reigns behind his stool in a session role for Stand in the Fire – pumping already killer material to an even higher level through his fills, accents and overall steadiness.

Our neighbors to the North are leading a potent traditional/power/speed metal movement to the world – Striker asserting themselves as one of the top acts and unleashing another platter that will receive ubiquitous airings and necessitate live show viewings when they hit your area.

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