Released: 2014, Napalm Records
Periodically over the years I have written regional review spotlights on bands from my part of the world, Western Canada. It is time for another such mini-feature and this month we are looking at six bands; Device (Vancouver, BC), Kobra And The Lotus (Calgary, Alberta), Lucid Scream (Calgary, Alberta), Omega Crom (Vancouver, BC), Striker (Edmonton, Alberta) and Viathyn (Calgary, Alberta) Please enjoy all six reviews of these recent releases in this feature.
As our regular readers may know, I’ve been following these dudes from very early on in their career. This is their second album on Napalm Records and one of Edmonton, Alberta’s biggest success stories. Almost two years to the day they are back with their third full-length, CITY OF GOLD.
When I started looking at some of the secondary elements of the new album, I was a little worried. The song-titles are a bit dull, the bands patented sense of humour is not immediately apparent. Also the album title is dull and the album art is just weird, some sort of representation of a figure getting melted by some liquid gold? I like the art concept but it was poorly executed and not nearly as cool or interesting as their first two albums.
The band took a bit of a hit with two founding members, Ian on guitar and Dave on bass, left the band. They are joined by Will Bill on bass and Tim Brown (brother of Adam Brown, the drummer) joins on guitar. Tim brings some good experience to the band playing formerly with Shadowblade and Kobra And The Lotus, so he is a good fit.
CITY OF GOLD is the fastest, heaviest album they have done. The 11 songs, blow by in 43 minutes, lots of quick punches and jabs that are in the three to four minute range. The band takes a couple of solid riff foundations and streamlines it and runs with it, stripping away an extra stuff like introductions, outros, spoken words things, it is just heads down, balls out Metal. Vocalist Cleary is still a soaring screamin’ eagle on vokills and the relentless drumming drives the album. The band almost descends into a thrash style with tracks like ‘Second Attack’. It is surprisingly heavy, and I’m not entirely sure it works for them, I applaud the band for trying something new but it is almost as if they have taken away some of the elements that made them stand out a bit more. The guitars are still ripping with solos and fingers flying all over the place, and I’m sure many people may be happy that the band has cranked everything up a notch. There is one slower, quieter moment on the album, the cut ‘All I Want’ with an acoustic guitar intro and a slower pace, it adds some needed diversity in sound. The glorious gang vocals are still there making some of the cuts natural sing-along songs as well, especially album closer, ‘Taken By Time’, which is a bit closer in delivery to their original sound.
On a side note, it is interesting to see that the band (as of time of writing) is slotted to support Onslaught and Artillery on the North American ‘Thrash Attack Tour’. It as if the label (Napalm) is trying to have the band expand into a different audience, namely older fans of 80’s thrash as the two European bands have each been around for over 30 years. This would seem to lend more evidence to my theory that Striker is an evolving band and that CITY OF GOLD is a transitional album.
I like CITY OF GOLD, it is a very strong album, it’s still way above average but I do miss some of the sense of fun and that was present on the first couple of albums. It is as if the band needed to make their serious, heavy, fast record to prove to detractors that they are more than a party band with funny videos. Mission accomplished, CITY OF GOLD is a smack upside the head and I mean that in a good way.