After a couple of releases with Napalm Records, Striker, Western Canada’s best speed metal band, has decided to go the independent route for their fourth full-length album, “Stand In The Fire”. Their previous record was another strong showing of the band’s identity, but ultimately didn’t feel quite as satisfying as “Armed To The Teeth”. The good news is that “Stand In The Fire” brings that magic back, and shows lots of emphasis on writing memorable hooks, alongside killer riffage and soloing. This is no more prominent than on the opener, “Phoenix Lights”, where the shredding will make your mind bend backwards simply due to how impressive it is. Considering the loss of longtime axeman Chris Segger, this is an important showing. The appropriately titled “Escape From Shred City” is another example of how good the band’s current guitarists are; this instrumental holds nothing back, and is likely to make your jaw drop.
The band’s last album showed them experimenting with some more melodic, almost AOR-like tendencies. These sounds again creep into their music on “Stand In The Fire”. A song like “Out For Blood” does it more subtly, as they alter the mood of the song with one line (“you know this time that it’s personal”), and instantly flip back to the speed metal ways of old. Of course, there are a couple of tracks that fully embrace this sound from start to finish: “Too Late” and “One Life”. The latter is a bit tamer, but is a perfect closer to the record, while the former is a song carefully constructed to become a classic for Striker. It has those classic feelgood harmonies that never fail to put a smile on one’s face. While this might be a marked change from the band’s more aggressive sound, it’s hard to imagine any fan of old-school metal being disappointed with these songs simply because they’re so good.
It cannot be emphasized enough how solid this record is. The band has slightly foregone speed (and there is still plenty of that) in favour of sheer catchiness, and with tracks like “The Iron Never Lies”, “Outlaw”, and “Locked In”, as well as all of the aforementioned ones, you can’t go wrong with this record. For the time being, I’m still partial to “Armed To The Teeth”, but it would not be surprising if this record overtook it in time.
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"Escape From Shred City"
4.6/5 or 92%.
Written by Scott