It seems like only ten minutes since Canada’s Striker released their last album, the spectacular Stand in the Fire – in fact it’s about a year, but time flies et cetera – but the band are back with eight and a bit new tracks of old metal presented as only they can.
The first thing to note about this self-titled effort is that it isn’t an immediate hit in the way that all of the band’s last three albums were. Each one of those was a motivated self starter, hitting you right between the ears first up; Striker takes a bit of a while to inveigle its way into your affections – four or five runs through in its entirety in this reviewers case – but if you’re ready to give the record a bit of time then the rewards to be reaped are, as usual with this most excellent of bands, immense.
There’s nothing here as ear jerking as a Bad Decisions (from 2014’s City of Gold) or Too Late from last year’s record. On balance this is a heavier Striker, guitars set to thrash rather than get the hair metal memory cells twitching in ecstasy, although there are still plenty of chant along choruses to get involved in should you be so minded. And then there’s the solos. Tim Brown is probably this magazine’s favourite young metal guitarist on the block, and once again he astounds throughout the course of this record. Whether he’s chugging – and chug levels are high on Striker – or whipping out those super-melodic, razor-sharp solo salvos he’s at the top of his game, and his partnership with vocalist Dan Cleary is absolute dynamite. Both men are in red hot form right now, and if there’s any justice in the world they will steer this band to as close to superstardom as it’s possible to get in the impoverished musical landscape of 2017.
Like I said, this was a grower on me, whereas usually Striker take me by the scruff of the neck on first contact. Now, however, I’m utterly at a loss to recommend anything to you as a standout track here, although opening track Former Glory, the excellent Shadows in the Light and the chantmungous Rock the Night are all up there – as absolutely everything on offer here is going to delight your metal sensibilities, of that I have no doubt. Just get stuck in and get involved – you won’t regret it.
Striker is out now.