2 years ago, Canadian group Striker
began strong with their debut, full-length assault of ferocious speed metal, 'Eyes
in the Night
'. You could argue that the album sounded just like generic, average speed metal, but something about the blinding riffs, killer chord progressions, and 10-ton melodies pushed 'Eyes
in the Night
' a step above par for average speed metal. Easily a 16/20. Personally, I was pleased by the band's apparent direction. So often do we see bands recording a debut with a mindset of bare minimums and following the genre by the book, only to drift away to more creative means later in their career. After a "solid foundation" has been laid to earn the outfit a starting place in the metal spectrum. It seemed this wouldn't be the case for Striker
, who filled their debut with more than the bare minimum. Not a whole lot more, but enough to be impressive and memorable. Things could only go uphill from there, right?
Unfortunately, wrong. Any hopes I had for Striker
to step farther out of the norm on their sophomore effort and establish themselves as a legend of the genre as opposed to a 2-bit speed metal band dwindled away when I began listening to 'Armed to the Teeth'. Yes, this record seems to be a step backwards for Striker
. Instead of coming farther to a point of breaking free from speed metal cliches, they’ve dived right back into the bonds of bore.
'Armed to the Teeth' begins with the galloping track 'Forever'. There's one single element that saves this song from mediocrity, and that is the guitar sorcery. 'Forever' fortunately contains one of the most jaw-dropping solos on the album. The effort continues with the generic snore fest, ‘Let It Burn
’. The rest of the album continues with this same kind of vibe, with every few tracks being more memorable than average. ‘Feed My Fire
’ stands out as a favorite.
The individual elements and instrument performance of the album could certainly be described as solid, although sometimes solid just isn’t quite good enough. Luckily, the guitar leads and solos serve as the primary piece of artillery throughout the record. They not only provide a welcome shot of color to the album, but also ensure survival in a genre so defined by showy, yet catchy guitar parts. Other elements play their respective, methodical parts. If you’re looking for anything that flies far beyond standard, you won’t find much with anything but the previously mentioned guitar leads. Rhythm guitars do little more than strengthen the groove and aura of each track. Bass rarely varies from the basics, which is a shame, especially when you think about how much the release could have benefited from some experimentation on the low end. Drums and vocals also stick to the book in a way I’ve become so accustomed to at this point.
the somewhat negative air I’ve given off in this review, ‘Armed to the Teeth’ is actually not a bad album. Sure, there are dull moments worthy of the skip button, but that’s just how I see things. If the idea of a classic sounding speed metal album that sticks to the plan and doesn’t fuck around with hit or miss dreams of reaching groundbreaking status sounds like a good time to you, by all means, buy this record now. Overall, I give it a 13/20. I can’t say I didn’t expect more from this album. A solid effort, but obviously an attempt by Striker
to play it safe.