Edmonton, Canada might be the last place that comes to mind when thinking about classic ’80s-influenced metal, but that certainly won’t be the case after spinning Striker’s fifth album, the self-titled Striker. Their unabashed love for the heydays of metal have been exemplified on their records for years, and Striker is the culmination of years of honing their skills.
“Former Glory” opens the album on a strong note, and is a blueprint for things to come: up-tempo anthems with shout-along choruses and energy to burn. “Former Glory” is faithful to the late ’80s with a touch of modernity to the production – think of a more exuberant version of Dokken without the guitar virtuosity of George Lynch. That’s not to say Tim Brown can’t hold his own on the axe, but today’s guitarists don’t have the chops of their ’80s forbears.
“Pass Me By” and first single “Born to Lose” follow a similar theme both musically and lyrically: a fast pace, high-energy lead vocals, and big choruses. There’s no fat to trim off any of these songs, either, as they all clock in around the three and a half to four and a half minute range, which is perfect for these tunes. And aside from the minute-long electronic toss-off instrumental “Cheating Death,” there really isn’t a weak song to be found.
Striker is a short album by today’s standards. The whole thing clocks in around 33 minutes, which is refreshing. No song overstays its welcome, and the album is too short for some of its faults to be more than mildly annoying – namely, the fact that Dan Cleary’s vocals can tend to be a bit too shouty at times, and that the songs don’t vary much in structure or tempo. The exceptions to that rule are strong: “Rock the Night” has such a fun beat, I can’t wait for winter to end so I can roll the windows down and blare it on the road, and while “Freedom’s Call” might start off as though it’s a power ballad, that quickly changes into another driving rocker.
Considering the quality of the songs and the length of the album, those issues are minor, but a bit more variance in both the songs and the vocals will put Striker over the top. As it stands, they’re this close to a gem of an album, and despite these nitpicks Striker show they are among today’s best young ’80s-style metal bands.
(released February 24, 2017 on Record Breaking Records)