Lightning Strikes - Lightning StrikesWell, the US presidential elections are over. And no matter how hard I tried to write and edit reviews last night, I could not ignore the votes rolling in. Sure, the half-bottle of bourbon didn’t help my focus either, but you can’t blame me for trying to take the edge off. After a long night of suspense and bewilderment, this morning finds a fog encasing the house as I wait for a sunrise they tell me should arrive. And, as I wait, I do what I always do when politics threaten to kill my already slow internet connection. I ignore social-media posts and Slack messages as if they carried the bubonic plague. Yes, I admit to ignoring all the bullshit and refuse to be a part of the conversation, but someone’s gotta keep a vigilant lookout for the next-best King Diamond ripoff. Though this new promo sitting on the top of my queue sounds nothing like King, it does have a fitting title for the occasion. Ladies and gents, I give you Lightning Strikes.

Having started way back in 1985, you would expect a classic metal outfit like California’s Lightning Strikes to be the proud owners of a dozen or more releases. Instead, there’s only one: a simple, two-track single that preceded the band’s 1987 breakup. And now, for reasons that can only explained by mysterious star alignments and Sumerian incantations, Lightning Strikes have reemerged three decades too late with their Dio-meets-Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath debut. Not only that, they even brought the Tony Martin onboard for “301 A.D. (Sins of Our Father)” and “Death Valley.” There’s no denying it: these dudes are olde as shit and are on a quest to reach back into the times of VCRs and landlines to bring you something… well, olde [I respect that.Steel Druhm].

Along with the awesome performances by Tony Martin, the band also recruited former Dream Theater (and current Joe Bonamassa) keyboardist Derek Sherinian to fill the gaps between soaring vocals, overdriven guitars, and ripping solos. The keys pop in and out of songs with great finesse, dropping a keyboard solo on “301 A.D.,” some ballady piano strokes on “Fear,” and organs a-plenty on “Bermuda Triangle” and “Kamikazi.” And, speaking of “Kamikazi,” Avanchick‘s Noah provides his unique pipes to this album curveball. After opening the track with a slow version of the traditional “Doki no Sakura” (wrought with Japanese koto), Noah unleashes one of the more addictive performances on the album. “Kamikazi” mixes clean vox with gruff ones and unloads a bucketful of timeless riffs. These couple tracks are quite bizarre, but the originality makes them special.

Lightning Strikes 2016

And, just when you thought there couldn’t be any more surprises, you get a cover of Deep Purple‘s “Our Lady.” An underrated song that I find myself looking forward to with every spin of the disc. Vocalist Nando Fernandez nails it and the vibe permeates through the album like an aftershock. Along with opener “Victim,” “Death Valley,” “Kamikazi,” and closer “We Don’t Rock Alone,” this track is one of my favorites. “Victim” has a Dio stench like none other and its addictive groove is only matched by “Death Valley.” While the opener (along with its successor) borrow from the perfections of Dio, “Death Valley” (with the help of Tony Martin) reeks of late-’80s Sabbath. Martin’s contribution to the song works so well, you might find yourself questioning the validity of time travel. Closer “We Don’t Rock Alone” follows the cover better than a tight latex glove over sadistic digits. Not only does it add the perfect amount of energy and memorability to the album, but it also sports the disc’s best chorus. It’s the kind of track that reminds ancient metalheads everywhere that your best records live in the crates in the basement.

For a band that dropped off the face of the Earth well before most of our current readers could wipe their own asses, this is quite the achievement. Though, “Doki no Sakura” and “Kamikazi” are the extent of its uniqueness and the lyrics of “301 A.D.” and “Stay with Me” are slathered in cheese, this album is fucking fun. It may not have those great dynamics from the days of yore, but producer Roy Z did well to make the bass and keys shine as bright as the guitars and vocals. It’s a cool little record that won’t make year-end lists, but oughta remind you that the only good music that came out of the ’80s was metal.

Rating: Good!
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Pure Legend Records
Releases Worldwide: November 18th, 2016

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  • GardensTale

    That’s one way to be able to say you’re in a band that started in the 80’s I guess.

  • Bouaziz Jan

    It’s a fact: the fog passed and the sunrise is arriving.
    It’s a shame that a Frenchman must point it out.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I’ve had time to recoup since writing this.

      However, it is still pretty fucking foggy outside (it’s raining/snowing).

      • Reese Burns

        Speaking of the election, I just wanted to put it out there that this website has cultivated a really mature comment section. This is one of the only sites where people aren’t still slinging mud at one another, just felt like letting yall know it’s appreciated.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Agreed. And I know we would all love to keep it that way.

          • Bouaziz Jan

            Agreed +1
            From metal comes smartness

          • GardensTale

            You wouldn’t think that looking at the MetalSucks comment sections or Metal Archives forums.

        • Oscar Albretsen


        • jetblindracos


  • Iain Gleasure

    Forget the election. Let’s all rabble about how long we now know it takes for these writers to get a review out. It’s been 13-14 days. No wonder RotM are always late!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      If you only knew what really happened behind the scenes of AMG.

  • Vanmetal

    Me thinks many a metal artist would disagree with the assessment that the only good music to come out of the 80’s was metal. There were some hugely influential artists at their peak during the 80’s that inspired many metal bands to follow (U2, Depeche Mode, New Order, Alphaville etc).
    Generally when metal bands widen their sound it usually takes on elements of 80’s music, be it melody or electronic elements.
    Think of synth use in COB or the reverb/delay drenched guitars of Katatonia, or gothic leanings of bands like Moonspell or Dimmu.
    Just saying… a fan of both metal and the 80’s ; ))

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Depeche Mode IS metal. So, I’m still correct :)

      • Vanmetal

        Your definition of metal is broad and all encompassing.
        The force is strong in this one……

        • Dr. A.N. Grier


      • Oh stop!

    • Oscar Albretsen

      The Cure!

    • James Ingold

      Agreed, and I would add to that list; whilst the 80’s was egregious in some of its musical indulgences, it also featured some of the most fearless and progressive pop music to come out before or after: Talk Talk, Tears for Fears, Prefab Sprout, some of Peter Gabriel’s best albums, Kate Bush, honestly, I would even so far as to defend the very poppy but still progressive 80’s Yes and Genesis albums.

      The latter two are often used as examples of how progressive music was dead and pop had become ubiquitous and corpratized – and it may indeed be true – but whilst other genres may have suffered, pop itself was richer for it.

      The one thing that I think everyone can agree suffered in the 80’s is the snare drum. Gated to the max, reverb to the max. Sooo distracting.

    • Name’s Dalton

      Yeah the ’80s had the Minutemen, Sonic Youth, Big Black, Live Skull, fIREHOSE, Bitch Magnet, Bauhaus, Dinosaur, Sebadoh, Dead Kennedys, John Zorn, and so many others. I’d wager a lot of the dissonance we hear in extreme metal was inspired by Sonic Youth (or bands influenced but Sonic Youth) and Big Black (and later, Rapeman and Shellac, all Steve Albini projects).

  • Isn’t this Strong Bad’s favorite band?

    • SelfIndulgence

      You can’t handle their style.

    • No, it’s their sister band, Limozeen!

      Hey, do you want to join my GUILD?

  • Huck N’ Roll

    Individual (and horrible) photos for the band promo – check. Shitty logo – check. Name-checking Dio and Black Sabbath – check. I can’t believe this 80’s loving Huckster missed this one! Good catch, Dr.! :)

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      It’s got it all!

    • Oscar Albretsen

      I was thinking a better band name would have been “Lightning Strikes Twice.”

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        I think that’s the slogan they have on their website.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Or: Lightning Strikes… every 30 years

  • Marc Rikmenspoel

    I’ve been wiping my own ass since 1977. So, this sounds like something I need to check out. I love Dio and Martin, so bring it on!

  • Thatguy

    I wouldn’t buy this in a hundred years – but it is actually pretty good for what it is.

  • Bart the Repairman

    Derek, what have you done to yourself…?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Derek has bills to pay!

      • Bart the Repairman

        When I saw him live few years ago, he didn’t look like a pornstar.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Oh, you’re talking about his looks! I thought you were decrying the fact that he was playing for a little known band…

  • Norfair Legend

    Music is very good, just love how all four in the promo pic look like they could be in completely separate bands. You got Prog metal, some Spanish cowboy music, late 80’s cover band and early 90’s attitude metal.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      By spanish cowboy music you mean Tex-mex?