Striker – Armed To The Teeth [8 out of 10]

By Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal

Judging from the music we’ve been treated to so far in 2012, I think it’s turning out to be a great year for traditional heavy metal. We’ve already seen some killer releases from the likes of Dawnbringer, Angel Witch and 3 Inches Of Blood, and now it’s time to welcome yet another new album in this genre. Canadian quintet Striker will release their sophomore effort “Armed To The Teeth” on July 27th via Napalm Records. It’s a follow-up to their hard-hitting 2010 debut full-length “Eyes In The Night”, and while it was a more than decent debut effort, I think the new album takes the band to the next level and ensures that they’re moving in the right direction.

The album certainly has more variety than I was expecting. I was pretty much anticipating ten straight-up heavy metal tunes of the old-school and fast kind. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s not all about speed metal. The majority of the album still consists of kind of fast, lively music that typifies the band’s debut album, but there are tunes like “Lethal Force” having numerous tempo changes and diverse passages arranged together in an excellent manner, showcasing a greater depth in musicianship as compared to anything on the debut album. Then there’s “Wolf Gang”, an outright power metal song which definitely stands on its own and is my favorite tune on the album. It fits Dan Cleary’s vocals perfectly, and the rest of the band does a great job at complementing his vocals. To me, Cleary’s voice is strongly reminiscent of a young Michael Kiske, which can never be a bad thing.

As for the music itself, Ian Sandercock and Chris Segger’s guitar leads and harmonies are strong enough to carry the weight of almost all of these songs, specially those in “Forever”, “Fight For Your Life”, “All The Way” and “Can’t Stop The Rush”. Even though the band isn’t reinventing the wheel here by any means, this set of compositions should keep an 80s metal fan interested throughout its 40-minute duration. Having said that, Striker certainly don’t fall in the generic retro metal category. Tthey display a prominent Canadian flavor in their music, which shows that they are staying true to their roots and come from the same thought process as the likes of Exciter and Annihilator, who took inspiration from British traditional metal and gave it their own distinct touch.

Besides, what’s traditional metal without a bit of cheesiness? The song titles, the lyrics, the album cover and the occasional sound effects such as howls, sirens and crowd applause ensure that Striker comes up trumps in this aspect as well. I’m in love with this album cover. It might even be my favorite cover artwork of the year thus far. It’s like a cheesier version of Judas Priest’s “Screaming For Vengeance”, and represents the name and musical style of this Striker album brilliantly.

Overall, Striker’s “Armed To The Teeth” has turned out to be an excellent representation of Canadian old school metal, and I can only imagine it to sound even better in the live setting. So, to fans of this style of music, I’d not only recommend picking up this album, but if the band is coming to play a show in your town, they are not to be missed. Hail Striker! \m/

Rating: 8/10

Record Label: Napalm
Release Date: July 27th 2012

Track Listing:
1. Forever (2:54)
2. Let It Burn (3:10)
3. Lethal Force (4:47)
4. It Could Be Worse (4:37)
5. Fight For Your Life (4:20)
6. Land Of The Lost (4:24)
7. Wolf Gang (3:26)
8. Feed The Fire (4:33)
9. All The Way (4:22)
10. Can’t Stop The Rush (3:34)