Striker @ Reggies, Chicago (US)

STRIKER / SPELLCASTER / WERESQUATCH / CRUSADER / SMASH POTATER / MISANTHROPY / BLOODLETTER

Date: 27th May, 2016
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket:
$10 (€8.8)
Promoter: n/a


After learning that STRIKER had released their latest LP on their own without the support of a record label, I knew that I had to attend this show. But this was not the only reason, because: a) the album is awesome, and b) the rest of the billing looked really enticing with SPELLCASTER being the ones before the headlining spot. However, this was set on a working date, so there was no other way but to sacrifice the first bands and get there as early as humanly possible.

It was a Friday night gig and also just before the long Memorial Day weekend, so attracting people into Reggies may have seemed kind of tricky and for sure the small number of people watching CRUSADER delivering the Heavy Metal goods, did not look quite promising. And honestly, this was a shame because the Chicagoan band always plays high-octane US-Power Metal with lots of epic finishing touches and occasional NWOBHM double guitar attacks. Unfortunately, we only got to hear the last four songs of their set, but man, CRUSADER sounded great despite the sparse attendance. Yeah, the riff-based “Dead Kings” with the galloping rhythm is definitely a mood-lifter and a party starter, so most of the long-week’s fatigue started fading away. “Asgard’s Fire” has become a favorite of mine and a killer representative of the old-school US Power Metal, and really made me think that CRUSADER would be an awesome addition to Germany’s ‘Keep It True’ festival, so I hope these lines will reach the appropriate set of ears. Anyway, “Wartorn And Bleeding” was the last one for CRUSADER who I think (hope) earned some fans because they truly deserved this.

CRUSADER setlist:

01. “Witch Hunt”
02. “Stormbringer”
03. “Inquisitor”
04. “Dead Kings”
05. “Hopeless Destiny”
06. “Asgard’s Fire”
07. “Wartorn And Bleeding”

CRUSADER

Crusader @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Crusader @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Crusader @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Crusader @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Crusader @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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WERESQUATCH were part of the touring package with STRIKER and to be perfectly honest, I have listened nothing from them, so there was no prior knowledge of their musical whereabouts. Well, the three-piece lineup was definitely a red flag for something in the proximity of Thrash or even Speed Metal. Without waiting much and with the appropriate smoke effects, the band from Portland put the pedal to the Metal with “Witch Ripper” which kind of affirmed my suspicions about the music; fast almost Thrash rhythm with a pinch of Black Metal (the vocals did this) is what we were reserved. Having three people onstage with one stuck behind the drum-kit and one behind the mic leaves the bassist to do all the moving and keep the stage occupied. And yes, Andrew Mercil spearheaded the show and I think he did well getting the audience's attention off their beers and into the music. Yeah, there were moments WERESQUATCH touched upon the early KREATOR and others approaching the rawness of the Thrash of the '80s with the riffs on the spotlight under lots of snare drum action. There was not much talking, so the set felt solid getting the blood running and prepping us for the adrenaline pumped SPELLCASTER.

WERESQUATCH

Weresquatch @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Weresquatch @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Weresquatch @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Weresquatch @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Weresquatch @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Putting out records with the best possible old-school Speed Metal goes down the drain, if the lineup cannot support the music when on the stage. You see, the ripped jeans, the denim and leather outfits or all the spikes in the world cannot fill the gap created by a bland performance. And in this part SPELLCASTER got a blazing A+ as they hit Reggies’ stage with all cylinders firing with the massive “I Live Again” from the upcoming “Night Hides The World” LP (July 08th is the day, people). Yeah, the band skipped any warming up period and filled the stage with tons of sweat, fueled by the awesome double guitars, the in-your-face bassist and the vein-popping singer who I think had some trouble finding a spot to stand still and do his thing... You see, the rest of the guys were roaming onstage like it was their last song of their last show on earth.

When you start getting such an amount of energy from the stage, it is impossible to resist getting into having the Metal fun mood and that’s exactly what happened inside Reggies during their set. There were people singing, fist-pumping, headbanging and generally sweating away an entire week’s worth of fatigue. For “Betrayal” (also from the upcoming SPELLCASTER LP), the bass PA gave up for the next songs, so the band had to keep shredding its way without it. As singer Tyler Loney said “it’s not a SPELLCASTER set, if something doesn’t go wrong” and then let “Chainsaw Champion” do the rest. That fast guitar-based fast rhythm and the oooohs did go down extremely well. The last song from the upcoming LP was the title track and worked equally great with the older stuff, starting a bit slow and then picking up speed and heaviness. “Thank you for sticking around - this is SPELLCASTER Tyler said before giving the last chance to Rock hard with SPELLCASTER. Like I said, no matter how old-school you sound, if you cannot support it, then it’s worth nothing. “Can STRIKER respond to what SPELLCASTER just did?” was the obvious question swirling around my brain and I was sure about to get my answer loud and clear...

SPELLCASTER setlist:

01. “I Live Again”
02. “Power Rising”
03. “Ghost Of My Memory”
04. “Betrayal”
05. “Chainsaw”
06. “Bound”
07. “Night Hides The World”
08. “Spellcaster”

SPELLCASTER

Spellcaster @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Spellcaster @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Spellcaster @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Spellcaster @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Spellcaster @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Spellcaster @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Spellcaster @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Spellcaster @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Spellcaster @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Spellcaster @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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The stage was ready to host the Canadians who have just released the amazing “Stand In The Fire” album without the support of a record label (I know I’m repeating myself). As it happened with SPELLCASTER, the band rushed into the stage and without warming up with the fast “Crossroads” and soon enough everyone joined the ooohs part like it was in the middle of a well-constructed setlist. Who needs in-between song-breaks when Speed Metal is on the menu? Well, no one, so “All For One” came without pausing and gave the perfect excuse to get the mosh-pit going. Of course, singer Dan Cleary is great on record but the way he’s delivering the vocals from the stage makes him sound ten times better, no matter if there is lots of sweat and chaos involved. Having double guitars always helps, right?

“Chicago, how are you doing tonight? We are STRIKER from Canada and we have a new album, this is called “Locked In” Dan briefly said because we had a lot of Speed Metal ground to cover and the opening riff did the rest. It is impossible to find an old-school Thrash-er without a sweet tooth for Hair Metal and if he says otherwise, then please do not believe him. So, when Dan asked if we liked Hair Metal, the answer was a loud ‘yes’ being the best way to introduce the RATT-esque “Too Late” with the trademark Glam type backing vocals and poser-looking drumming (extra kudos to Adam Brown).

Whatever I said before about being good enough to support the old-school sound applies to STRIKER too. The band was in constant motion and the energy was bouncing on and off the audience who - by the way - shared the same hunger for Metal. You see, sometimes having a venue half-full with people who are genuine fans of the music is far better than a packed place with show-goers who just happened to be there to take a couple of selfies... UFOs and Metal always mix great, so getting to hear the album opener “Phoenix Lights” right after Lethal Force from the latest LP (which deals about the namesake incident) was most appropriate. After this fist-pumping track, Dan left the stage and we got an instrumental treatment with “Escape From Shred City” which I think carries some RUNNING WILD-esque riffs, so it gets a bonus rate from me. “Full Speed Or No Speed” got us back into singing along mood and then STRIKER made me extremely happy by including “Out For Blood” which happens to be my favorite track from their latest LP. Ok, there was no saxophone there, but the guitars did compensate me for this loss.

The - what I like to call - regular setlist ended on a high note with the '80s nostalgia carrying “Fight For Your Life” and the chanting-along main riff part. Sure, the band left the stage but this happened for a little while, because STRIKER was back under public demand (ok, I may overstating things a bit) with a two-track encore with “Terrorizer” dropping the curtain in the best possible way. Hands down, this is probably one of the best billings I have seen for quite some time. Sure, I have been to great shows but mainly due to the headlining band, but in this case the ones I had the pleasure to watch did extremely great with the last two knocking our socks off. I hope we will be seeing them pretty soon and with a bigger audience, like they deserve.

STRIKER setlist:

01. “Crossroads”
02. “All For One”
03. “Locked In”
04. “Too Late”
05. "Lethal Force"
06. Phoenix Lights
07. Escape From Shred City
08. “Full Speed Or No Speed”
09. “Out For Blood”
10. “Fight For Your Life”
11. “Second Attack”
12. “Terrorizer”

STRIKER

Striker @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Striker @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Striker @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Striker @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Striker @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Striker @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Striker @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Striker @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Striker @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Striker @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Striker @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Striker @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Striker @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Striker @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Striker @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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