Review by Andrew Bansal, photos by Matt Nielson
January 24th 2017, Complex, Glendale CA: A highly active and successful 2016 has paved the way for a scorching start to 2017 for Canadian metal band Striker, who as a group, nearing the end of the first decade of their career, have proved themselves time and again as one of the finest proponents of all things traditional, power, speed, shred, glam and thrash metal put together into a style they can truly call their own.
Striker’s fourth and latest full-length album ‘Stand in the Fire’ was the runaway winner for best album of 2016, and less than a year since its release, they have already confirmed a February 2017 release for their fifth album, a self-titled effort. Currently, Striker are on a US headline tour on their way to and back from the 70000 Tons of Metal Cruise, and en route, made an LA area stop for a gig at Complex in Glendale last Tuesday January 24th, with local support acts Madrost and Ironaut.
Local stoner/sludge trio Ironaut started proceedings at around 9:15 with a righteously excellent set, as skulls were crushed and ears bled due to the sheer heaviness emanating from the stage. Probably the most actively gigging band in the LA scene at the moment, Ironaut play shows in every venue that is willing to book them, but always seem to save their best for their appearances here at Complex, as evident from this set. They presented a flawless combination of tunes from their two EPs as well as a new offering called ‘World of Shit’ which is a song very much reminiscent of bands like The Sword and Venomous Maximus, and showcases the ultra-rapid evolution the trio is undergoing as songwriters. Vocalist/bassist Erik Kluiber was his entertaining best as a frontman while his band mates Patrick McHugh (guitar) and Ivan Najor (drums) also brought their chops to the fore. These three put the iron in Ironaut and one hopes that they will keep doing so relentlessly for a long time to come.
Ironaut set list:
01. Iron Vessel
02. Fire Eater
03. World of Shit
04. Yellow King
05. Acid Wash
06. My Little Girl
In contrast to Ironaut, Orange County thrashers Madrost were not only making a rare LA appearance, but having been busy writing and recording material as well as revamping a part of their lineup, have not played many shows of late. An overly contrived intro aside, these boys looked and sounded hungry and ready for the kill. This being a relatively new lineup of members, they only played a five-song set but showcased enough variety within it, through their older material as well as a brand new song called ‘Scorned’, to be included on a soon-to-be-released third full-length. Progressing from their 2012 debut album ‘Maleficent’ to the new tune, they have blended more and more death metal influences into the old-school thrash sound of their early years, which is certainly a positive development. There’s more to Madrost than mere thrash, and their impending album should further establish that.
Madrost set list:
01. Operation: Xenomorphic Protocol
02. Drawn and Quartered
04. Into the Aquatic Sector
05. Zombie Grinder
After setting up additional lights and smoke machines to lend a bit of production value to their show, headliners Striker hit the stage in front of a decent turnout here at Complex, and feeding off the energy of a highly enthusiastic and passionate crowd, the five members joined forces to put forth an exemplary exhibition of spellbinding, fist-raising, ear-piercing, soul-soothing heavy metal. Striker is not your average band by any means, and with two guitars, one bass, a full drum kit and as many as four vocal microphones, they produce an immense sonic output. The pure heat arising from the band’s combined sound could be clearly felt in the front few rows. For the band and audience alike, the latest Striker album title was put into perspective, as this stage was being set ablaze by massive, multi-layered sound as well as unbound musical talent.
It is rare even for bands billed as headline acts at Complex to play real “headline” sets, but that’s the beauty of seeing an international band that wants to make the most out of every opportunity they get to perform in Los Angeles, and Striker sure did, with a full 14-song set, much to the delight of one and all in attendance, as absolutely nobody dared or desired to exit the building before this show was completely finished.
The set was an extremely well-balanced compilation of songs from all five albums. Fans got the first taste of ‘Former Glory’ off of the upcoming self-titled release, and sang along at the top of their lungs with fists held high to their favorite Striker tunes such as ‘Full Speed or No Speed’, ‘Lethal Force’, ‘Second Attack’ and ‘Phoenix Lights’, air-guitaring to glory during the solos and harmonies. The band themselves were at their most energetic, blowing off the steam from a canceled San Francisco show the night before and a drive from Oregon to Southern California in the most productive and enjoyable manner possible. This was an all-killer set with every song as good as or better than the last. An encore was very much warranted here for a crowd that deserved it, and the fun-loving, quirky Canadians that they are, Striker obliged with a cover of Ozzy’s ‘Desire’.
When it comes to pure heavy metal in the live setting, Striker is second to none. One feels (or should feel) to get a chance to experience them on stages this small, because they belong on stages far bigger. They came, they played, they conquered.
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Striker set list:
01. Former Glory
03. Locked In
04. Lethal Force
05. Phoenix Lights
06. Out For Blood
07. Born To Lose
08. Full Speed or No Speed
09. Fight For Your Life
10. Escape to Shred City
11. Too Late
12. Second Attack
14. Desire (Ozzy cover)
Striker remaining US tour dates:
01/27/2017 – Austin, TX @ Grizzly Hall
01/28/2017 – Houston, TX @ Rudyards
01/29/2017 – New Orleans, LA @ Siberia
01/31/2017 – Jacksonville, FL @ Jack Rabbits
02/01/2017 – Winter Park, FL @ Haven Lounge
02/02 to 02/062017 – 70000 Tons Of Metal Cruise
02/07/2017 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
02/08/2017 – St. Louis, MO @ Fubar
02/09/2017 – Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
02/10/2017 – Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club