“Stand In The Fire”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Canada’s Striker remain one of metal’s best kept secrets…unfortunately. These guys are very close to the top of the traditional metal heap. Their previous album “City of Gold” I regarded as something of a neglected classic. I think “Stand In The Fire” is just a hair short of that apex, but is very much a high quality follow-up that allows Striker to keep their heads high.

One thing all their records have in common is the sheer energy that crackles throughout their material. You can feel sweat and enthusiasm leaking out of this band in a wave. The heaviness and the jacked up energy is here in spades, which is great, because otherwise this would be close to AOR or hair metal. “Stand In The Fire” is the most melodic of Striker’s works so far, but because of that energy, it never feels like a sellout or wimp out. The vocal harmonies and melodies are very much hard rock or even pop in style…”Too Late” and “Locked In” are great examples of accessible melodies almost on the level of Boston or Journey. But that’s combined with doses of speed metal, bursts of frenzied axe shredding and the power of early 80’s and NWOBHM type jamming. “Phoenix Lights” is a killer opener that combines those clean vocal gymnastics with furious speed and power. The only song that is balladic in nature is the closing “One Life”, which is easy to take after the breathless 10 songs that preceded it.

This is real metal with bite and heat so don’t let the talk of AOR-style melodies scare you away. These guys really deserve a break…so give them one!