Strikelight - Taste my attack 4/5
2. Taste my attack
3. Heavy metal strike
4. Youthful fire
5. Dead for you
6. Evil’s decay
7. My living hell
8. Hellbiker’s tale
9. Asmodeus’ rage
Unquestionably, the last few years have seen a pronounced revival of traditional 80s-style heavy metal. Every month, it seems, a fistful of CDs are released in this style, most of them by youngsters who weren’t even born when this music originally ruled the earth. Personally, I welcome this development given that no-frills traditional metal is so close to my heart and so many of these bands excel at it. That said, it is understandable that some purists would take umbrage at the bandwagon-jumping aspect of the whole thing. Which brings us to Strikelight. The Greek quintet are unapologetic purveyors of the 80s metal sound, blending NWOBHM (think Iron Maiden and Angel Witch) with the 80s U.S. metal sound (think Omen and Shok Paris). Importantly, however, Strikelight’s lineage predates the old-school resurgence by a wide margin. Their excellent 's/t' debut CD came out on Eat Metal Records back in 2004. These guys were traditional metal when traditional metal wasn’t cool, so bandwagon accusations are unwarranted here.
What’s interesting about the Strikelight story is that they vanished from the scene for so long. Lousy cover art aside, their debut was a sensational breath of fresh air in a stale melodic heavy metal environment. It had the songs, the energy, and the glorious guitars. As the years passed with nary a word from the Strikelight camp, I feared that the Greeks had fallen victim to the dreaded one-and-done curse that smites so many talented young bands. Much to my delight, I learned a few months ago that Strikelight are back with a new CD, ‘Taste my attack’, this one on Athens’ Iron on Iron Records (which is also the label home of the terrific Crimson Fire, among others). The packaging suggests that not much has changed with Strikelight: Same style of crappy cover art, same band members (excepting the inclusion of new guitarist Savvas “Flamekeeper” Glikis).
Musically, too, the song remains the same for Strikelight. Listening to these 2 CDs back to back, it is obvious that Strikelight remain dedicated to the same narrow path they’ve always walked. And yes, that’s a good thing. As before, Strikelight are all about the relentless twin-guitar attack, crafting stellar Maiden-type harmonies and melodies at every turn, all in a high-energy wrapper. One listen to “Evil’s decay” or “Youthful fire” or “My living hell”, and aficionados of old-school heavy metal glory will be hooked. All of these songs have the ring of authenticity and purity, as if Strikelight has distilled the very essence of 80s dual-guitar traditional heavy metal and zealously protected it from all outside contaminants. It’s a beautiful thing to behold, really, for those who live and breathe this music.
The one potential point of friction that Strikelight may have with certain listeners concerns the vocals of George “Inner Voice” Stavropoulos. (Don’t you just love the nickname, by the way? The other 3 guys are dubbed “Avenger”, “The Rider”, and my favorite, “Virtue Defender”.) Of course, this genre is not renowned for having polished singers, nor should it be. Old-school metal generally works best with vocalists who are a bit rough around the edges, but who sing from the heart. Stavropoulos is certainly in that category, it’s just that he’s perhaps a bit rougher around the edges than most. Don’t get me wrong: His voice is not harsh or extreme in any way. It’s just not particularly tuneful. Sometimes he reminds me just a touch of lower-register George Tsalikis from Zandelle, if that gives you an idea. Whatever, I think Stavropoulos is fine. But if you’re picky about vocals, you may find a stumbling block to your enjoyment of Strikelight.
With that caveat, ‘Taste my attack’ is pretty much a no-brainer for those who swear by the light of honest, no-BS, traditional heavy metal delivered in the ways of old, with guitar melodies galore. Let me put it this way: Those who enjoy Widow’s smasher ‘Life’s blood’ CD will be right at home with Strikelight. Up the irons!
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