“Shadow of the Sword”

By Dr. Abner Mality

The longer you’ve been a metal fan, the more reverence you have for times gone by. A lot of us old dogs can’t let go of the glory days. This is as it should be. Of course we can listen to our favorites over and over again, but it’s nice to see new bands who pay tribute to the metal stylings of yore. 

Stalker is the latest of many bands tapping the retro vein. I’m surprised to see they hail from New Zealand, not known as a hotbed of such activity. “Shadow of the Sword” is drenched in the worship of archaic mid-80s speed metal thrash, mostly of the German school. Their heart is in the right place, but this winds up as a fairly average album that is so entrenched in doing the early Destruction sound it hurts. Something just sounds off about the production on this album. The bass is too overwhelming on some tracks and there seemed to be a disagreeable constant hum, at least on my copy. The songs are slavish in their devotion to the same basic sound…raging speed metal riffs with those curly sounding arpeggios everywhere and high pitched yelping vocals.  The speed is there but things are very samey and not on the level of the bands Stalker is emulating. 

If you are not that picky, “Shadow of the Sword” will satisfy your ancient speed metal fix but if you’re looking for a new band that takes that template to a new and more distinctive level, you won’t find it here. To revive the speed metal scene, we need more than knockoff bands.