Striker - Stand In The Fire

(CD, Private, 2016)

Canada’s STRIKER had managed to put a strong foot on the door of the '80s-inspired and riff-based Heavy Metal, having released pretty solid albums with “City Of Gold” being one of their highest moments. Still, their new LP “Stand In The Fire” slipped through the cracks and really, I almost forgot about this, simply because I relied on the record label to send the appropriate heads-up press-release that the album was due. Apparently, STRIKER are now without a record deal, something that is absolutely bizarre considering the fuss around their name and, most importantly, the very good music they are putting out. Anyway, I’m glad that this situation changed and “Stand In The Fire” spent enough time inside my player and have been revisiting this since then.

If I were to bet money on this, I’d say that STRIKER quickly got back on their feet fueled with determination to continue putting out this adrenaline-pumped Heavy Metal of theirs. Yeah, the new LP sees a new guitarist on the fold, Trent Halliwell, who had some time to contribute to the making of this most powerful tracklist. “Phoenix Lights” opens the album and clearly marks STRIKER’s territory with fast and in-your-face guitars and with a pinch of keyboards. Well, the song is about the famous UFO sighting, so the keyboards are there to add a space-y or Sci-fi finishing touch if you are an unbeliever... ('X-Files mode off'). Regardless of the lyrical content, this song shows absolutely no signs of being part of an independent release. I mean, the sound is balanced with some additional focus on the guitars and carries the band’s infectious energy, paying homage to the '80s roots. Ok, this may sound like the typical '80s-revival song but trust me when I say that the tracklist gets better and better. Well, the second tune “Out For Blood” is an awesome collection of melodies which partner with the still-going strong guitar riffs and saxophone sounds... Yeah, you’ve read that right, STRIKER have added saxophone just for this one and believe it or not, it works like a charm carrying out a catchy and at the same time nostalgic melody. '80s-based Heavy Metal also means double guitar harmonies which are in abundance here; the title track will knock your socks off (the double bass drum helps a lot) and if they (your socks that is) stay in place after this, then the instrumental “Escape From Shred City” will definitely do the trick. Oh man, the main groove is super addictive and to be honest I like it more than the fret destroying shredding. By the way, I got some RUNNING WILD goosebumps listening to the main guitar lead (somewhere in the middle of this) and this to me is a huge bonus; well done, boys!

One more thing that I like in STRIKER is the Hard Rock attitude some of the songs carry more than the others and I believe singer Dan Cleary is also responsible for this. His melodic side wakes up some nice Hard Rock memories serving ultra-catchy melodies in the chorus as it happens in the perfect for long summer night drives “The Iron Never Lies”. And yes, the slower break with the bass on the spotlight points towards this direction so you better be ready for some sweet nostalgia to surface up. In the faster / heavier side of things stand the double lead guitars-driven “Outlaw” (the chorus will get you singing-along at no time) and the JUDAS PRIEST-esque “Locked In” (think something from the “Painkiller” days). STRIKER get mellow on the almost acoustic “One Life” where Dan Cleary gets a chance to really showcase with huge singing range making this the best way to cool-down after headbanging non-stop with the previous ten tracks. Be warned that this is not a typical power ballad because the for the last minute the song wears it Heavy Metal outfit, so you may get the urge to get back to moshing.

Despite the lineup and record-label status changes, STRIKER sound to be unaffected - if not energized - in this independently released album. “Stand In The Fire” will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth for guitar-based Heavy Metal and then sweeten the deal even more with the melodic finishing touches and the inspired songwriting. Now tell me, how can this band still stand without a record deal?





01. Phoenix Lights
02. Out For Blood
03. Too Late
04. Stand In The Fire
05. The Iron Never Lies
06. Escape From Shred City
07. Outlaw
08. Locked In
09. United
10. Better Times
11. One Life


Dan Cleary - Vocals
Adam Brown - Drums
Tim Brown - Guitar
William Wallace - Bass
Trent Halliwell - Guitar