STRIKER – “Road Warrior” – 2009
The first release from Canadian Traditional Metal band STRIKER was an EP called “Road Warrior”. The release lead off with the title track, a classic 80’s Speed Metal track that is almost indistinguishable from music recorded in the early 80’s. From the production, lyrics, style and the artwork. If you didn’t know better you’d think it was a lost album from the NWOBHM era.
The truth is that these guys were all born in the late 80’s, so they weren’t even close to being around when bands like this were putting out albums. It’s a testament to their dedication and love for Heavy Metal. Yeah, you can replicate just about anything nowadays, but to remain so faithful to the format is quite remarkable.
There’s only six songs, including the Grim Reaper cover “You’ll Wish That You Were Never Born”, so it’s hard to give an overly indepth review, but I’ve heard enough to know there’s talent and lots of potential. Thankfully we wouldn’t have to wait very long before the band would put out a full-length album.
STRIKER “Eyes In The Night” – 2010
The Canadian Metal band STRIKER put out their first full-length album in 2010 hot on the heels of their EP “Road Warrior” that quickly put them in the middle of the New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal. Since this album was recorded closely to the same time as the EP it pretty much picks up where they left off.
“Full Speed Or No Speed” sets the tone for the album. It’s reckless Speed Metal with the soaring vocals of Dan Cleary, the dueling guitars of Ian Sandercock and Chris Segger along with the rhythm section of bassist Dave Arnold and drummer Magnus Burdeniuk.
Like the EP, I have a tough time telling that it was recorded in 2010 and not in 1982. If you listen closely you’ll hear differences of course, but for the most part they’re replicating the glory days of Metal. And they were all born in the late 80’s so by the time they were old enough to get into this music it had gone underground. I could see one of them into the 80’s, but to find an entire band of guys is even more impressive.
They’re still honing their craft on “Eyes In The Night” but it’s still a strong album musically. They do seem to be giving the industry the middle finger as it sounds NOTHING like modern rock and Metal. These guys have so much more dimension and emotion than the Post Grunge/Alt Metal crowd. Now they need just find their sound and spot a little better, which will come in time.
Overall, it’s a solid Metal album and a harbinger of things to come for the band called STRIKER.
STRIKER “Armed To The Teeth” – 2012
The Canadian Heavy Metal band STRIKER returned in 2012 with “Armed To The Teeth”. They had already been considered and up and coming band in the New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal and this album would solidify their spot.
You can tell right away the band had improved in their song-writing as you hear more defined choruses and better song structure. The band was also tighter, which might be due to a couple more years playing together or the addition of new drummer Adam Brown. Either way, they seem to have a little better composure on this album.
They’re still a faster band, bordering Speed Metal, but as you can hear on “Lethal Force”, they’re able to slow down and get into a better groove. They’re also using more gang vocals to give songs more emphasis. I welcome the addition of both as it shows they’re developing as a band and working on their sound.
What is a little disappointing is the production. It’s raw and real again, but lead singer Dan Cleary’s vocals get buried in the back a bit too much, which is ironic as the first two albums he might have been put too far out front. Perhaps this was an over adjustment on their part. It’s not the end of the world, it’s just a little disappointing as they wrote some solid material here, it’s a shame not to have the production completely locked in.
What’s most impressive about STRIKER is how they’ve improved in such a short time, they’re first EP and album were good, but lacked variety. This album has some solid hooks too, “Fight For Your Life”, “Forever”, “Let It Burn”, “All The Way” and “Wolf Gang” are all solid and slightly different styles.
Even though I was critical of the production, I’m so glad this New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal has a different sound than the European scene. I love both, but the Metal scene did need some diversity and we have that now with the old school sound separating itself from the overproduced and over compressed Metal.
STRIKER – “City Of Gold” – 2014
You might saw that Canada’s Heavy Metal band STRIKER struck “gold” on their 2014 album “City Of Gold”. They come into their own on this album. They kept improving from the EP, debut full-length “Eyes In The Night” and their sophomore album “Armed To The Teeth”. This time it sounds like a big production and a clear vision.
Having said that, they have implemented some modern elements into the music that might turn off fans of their earlier material. They have ventured outside of the “New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal” into a more new European sound. Early in their career they didn’t have a lot of the big choruses, now they seem to dominate the songs.
Singer Dan Cleary has improved so much over the years too. He was a little out of control on the early material, his range was so crazy he didn’t quite know how to harness it in. On “City Of Gold” he’s nailing every note and able to show off his chops without getting too crazy.
Drummer Adam Brown and new bassist William Wallace really hold down the fort too. They provide a great foundation for guitarists Chris Segger and new member Tim Brown to show off their skills. To be honest the band has never sound so tight as they do on this album. It might be the production or the new guys in the band, whatever it is they sound very impressive.
But as I mentioned earlier, they have almost played themselves out of this New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal bands. Perhaps the best way I can describe their evolution is the same way Def Leppard grew back in the day. They were part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal before “Pyromania” was released. “City Of Gold” is a leap in a similar way, this album is much more capable being on Modern Rock radio than previous material.
For better or worse, they’re a much better band. STRIKER is still clearly Metal, but they’ve expanded their sound on “City Of Gold” with almost every song being a solid performance. But if you like their old-school sound and delivery you might be a little disappointed, for the rest of us, we’ll enjoy watching them rocket to the top.
STRIKER – “Stand In The Fire” 2016
The Canadian Heavy Metal band STRIKER broke out on the previous album “City Of Gold” in 2014 a couple different ways. They become significantly more popular and they also broke out of the mold of bands in the New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal Bands.
The NWOTHMB started in the early 2000’s and their first EP and two albums put them squarely in the movement. “City Of Gold” showed a pretty dramatic move towards a more slick production and accessible songs. Amy I say they “sold out”? NO, by no means, “City Of Gold” was still very “Metal” and still a long way from Mainstream Rock.
So what direction would they go on “Stand In The Fire”, if any? Well, to the dismay of their original group of fans, they actually went more Melodic and radio-friendly. For some, more AOR tracks like “Too Late” will be welcomed with open arms.
They’re down to one guitarist too, Tim Brown. Longtime guitarist Chris Segger left the band. You can tell a little bit that the songs aren’t quite as “full” as before, but it suits the style change they’ve gone under. They were very much a Speed Metal band when they started, now they’re more of an updated 80’s band. The production is more modern as are the guitar tones.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re still very “Metal” and “Arena” Rock based, they have just grown into their sound more. One should really hail the improvements they’ve made, even if in the process they strayed away from the original sound.
“Phoenix Lights”, “Stand In The Fire”, “Locked In”, “United” and “Better Times” are great Metal anthems that stand up against anyone else. This might not be the same old-school band they started as, but I contend they are much better now.
STRIKER – “Striker” – 2017
A year after their album “Stand In The Fire”, STRIKER returned in 2017 with a self-titled album. The Canadian band returned with the same lineup, Vocalist Dan Cleary, guitarist Tim Brown, bassist William Wallace and drummer Adam Brown.
Compared to some of their other albums it was a bit shorter, just 10 songs including a cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Desire”. There’s really just 8 original songs, but thankfully they’re all solid cuts of Melodic Metal with a slightly modernized twist. They started as an old-school Speed Metal band but have evolved into a Power Metal band with some very impressive talent.
As bands evolve they tend to win and lose fans over the years. I can honestly say that while I really appreciate their humble beginnings, I find them much more listenable now, even if they’ve softened their sound to some degree. What they HAVN’T done is left their quest to bring back a more traditional Melodic form of Heavy Metal to the masses.
“Pass Me By” is a strong and heavier track that stood out. “Shadows In The Night” was leaning more towards mainstream, but still planted in the 80’s sound. “Over The Top” was an uptempo cut with an inspirational message and a strong chorus. “Freedom’s Call” was a big generic, but still a solid Power Metal track.
I would say this was a step down from their previous two albums, it was a bit shorter too but it just didn’t quite have the same spark at “City Of Gold” or “Stand In The Fire”. It was still a strong record mind you, just not quite as potent at their previous two albums.
STRIKER – “Play To Win” 2019
Canada’s STRIKER returned with their Melodic Metal onslaught in 2019 with the Juno Award winning “Play To Win” album. Their transformation from an underground New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal Band to a group winning Music awards is quite remarkable. They started out barely writing any choruses in the songs to writing ones that are borderline too much.
I enjoyed listening to them evolve but I think they may have peaked around “City Of Gold” and “Stand In The Fire” back in 2016. I would venture to say they’re a more complete and better band now, but I just like their sound and approach better back then. I still consider them “Metal” but it’s on the borderline, they’re closer to a band that’s taken 80’s Rock and modernized it. That’s not a BAD thing by any means, but they’ve lost some of their “street cred” in my opinion.
Part of it might be that the band has just matured, they might be getting more people talking in their ear or maybe it’s just the natural progression of their sound. Whatever it is, they don’t quite have the magic they did before. Ironic that they win a Juno Award for the album, that shows you how much the so called “experts” know.
Despite this not being my favorite album from them I will gladly take anything STRIKER does over anything I’m currently hearing on Active Rock radio. This is a top-quality produced album, Tim Brown is an underrated guitarist and Dan Cleary’s voice is a good as it’s ever been, they just went in a direction I’m not quite as happy with, but you might be so don’t discard giving it a listen.