It has been a while since a band I didn’t know anything about blew me away with their music. Striker from Edmonton, Canada, did exactly that with their brand-new album Stand in the Fire. The four-piece metal ensemble self-release their fourth album on February 5th, 2016, through Record Breaking Records.
Stand in the Fire: Song-by-song
The opener, “Phoenix Lights” is pure heavy metal gold. At first it reminded me of the fictitious band “Steel Dragon” from the movie “Rock Star” – and I mean that as a compliment – but soon crystallised into an authentic sound which I expect the band to keep throughout this record. Track #2, “Out for blood” speeds up the pace and transforms itself into a strong metal anthem. “Too Late”, Striker’s latest single, surprises with catchy melodies that will have any audience jump and down and sing along. The title-song Stand in the Fire brings the pedal to the metal. Double-bass action, heavy guitar riffs, and darker melodies make it the heaviest track so far. “The Iron Never Lies” picks up where the previous song left off: fast, heavy, and dark with melodramatic harmonies – my personal favourite song.
The instrumental “Escape from Shred City” cuts the beat in half and provides the listener with a more appropriate groove to nod along, but occasionally falls back into double-speed thrashing. A masterpiece! “Outlaw” introduces a more galloping groove but sticks to the Striker song-format. “Locked In” reminds me of 80s “Judas Priest” riffing. However, the band’s character and authentic identity shines through at any given time.
“United” is another song that reminds me of the good old hard rock and metal days – when I was too young to go to concerts but sneaked in nevertheless. A highlight is the choir at around 2:05 and the subsequent guitar solo. Another personal favourite of mine on this album. The second-last song, “Better Times”, brings us back to a fast, heavy, and dark mood. The song lives off clever arrangements and dramatic cadences. Striker close their album with “One life”, a mandatory rock ballad that builds a creative musical castle on a green meadow within 4 minutes and 17 seconds.
Striker’s fourth album, Stand in the Fire, might be their best work to date as far as I can tell. Had to check out their previous releases, which are great as well, but this one is definitely a step up. The band recorded everything by themselves at home with the help of Randy Black and Frederik Nordstrom (Bring Me The Horizon, In Flames, Opeth) and they sound better than ever. With Stand in the Fire, Striker found the magic potion that melts 80s heavy-, hair- and thrash-metal, and spices it up with smart arrangements, creative lyrics and awesome musicianship. Big kudos to Dan Cleary (lead vocals), Tim Brown (guitars), Adam Brown (drums) and William Wallace (bass).
Striker are currently touring Europe with Primal Fear and Brainstorm. Make sure to catch them at a venue near you. I definitely will.