Striker - City of Gold 01I’ll fully admit that I have a soft spot for fun in my metal. After all, a man can only listen to Ulcerate growl about entropy, Triptykon purging Tom G.’s demons, and Kvarforth whining about how long it took him to clean out his bathtub after his fateful promo video (I don’t speak Swedish, so this is conjecture) so much, and even though I greatly enjoy all of those artists and listen to their great work regularly, sometimes a change of pace is needed. Enter Alberta’s Striker, and their excellent third album City of Gold.

While City of Gold is definitely fun metal, that means nothing if isn’t filled to the brim with well-written music. As it was both on my Top Ten list and good enough to get this little highlight, it should be obvious that Striker wrote a great batch of songs. They play modernized classic metal like Enforcer and Wolf, albeit with a heavier pizza thrash (Anthrax, Municipal Waste) influence than those two bands.

Dan Cleary’s vocals are one place where the Anthrax influence really shows, as he sounds quite a bit like Joey Belladonna, albeit with a more impressive range. The classic metal influence manifests itself wonderfully in the flashy yet substantial guitar solos, and while they may not be as innovative or technically impressive as Pyrrhon or Gorguts‘ insanity, they bring back that feeling of “Hell yeah, guitar solo!” that the classic metal bands had a knack for, with the best examples being “Bad Decisions” and the title track.

Striker - City of Gold 02All of the songs here are great, but some are greater than others. “Bad Decisions” is the most obnoxiously 80’s metal thing I’ve heard all year, and I love every second of it. It’s definitely not for the lactose intolerant, but it’s a ton of fun and catchy as all get-out. “Crossroads” captures that life-affirming spirit that this sort of metal is so good at producing with a chorus that’s so cheesy and awesome that I can’t help but love it. Album highlight “Underground” is City of Gold‘s best merging of pizza thrash and classic metal: it’s catchy, concise, and one of the best album openers I’ve heard all year. “Underground” is definitely my favourite song on City of Gold, but not by a huge margin; the entire album maintains a high level of quality and memorability for its entire duration.

While it’s nice to be brutal and nihilistic sometimes, I think I speak for many metalheads when I say that we got into this genre because it’s a ton of fun and ultimately makes us happy. To wit: when most of us go to see something like Watain live, we’re not there to be a part of some serious “Satanic ritual;” we’re there to bang our heads and revel in how awesome life can be, if only for a scant few hours. Striker fully embrace this idea, and wrote an album of great songs celebrating it. And for that, they deserve your attention.

Tracks to Check: “Underground,” “City of Gold,” “Bad Decisions” and “Crossroads”

 

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  • Fun in my metals? What is this travesty?

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Great (and funny!) review. The embedded track reminds me how great classic metal is when done right. I was listening to Riot V’s “Unleash the Fire” the other day, and, damn, those guys are so tight. The way Todd Michael Hall takes the line “She flies high across the crimson sky” and makes it the highlight of the song is inspiring. Hell, it’s the frikin’ apotheosis of the Metal vocal inflection!

    You’re dead-on about the whole “Satanic” thing, too. Albums like The Satanist and Conjuring the Dead are just….great fun. No, I don’t prostrate myself on the ground to some statue of Lucifer when I listen to Behemoth. Maybe part of the fun is that we can play act being Satan’s minions and grin about the dirty looks the christians would give us if they could see us banging our heads along to the music; to many of them, we’re not into this whole devil thing just for shits and giggles. (Still kind of bummed that Conjuring the Dead wasn’t on any of the year-end lists.)

    • Riot is awesome. Thundersteel is like the perfect metal album.

  • SyFFiLiS

    Still waiting for “Things You Might Have Missed 2014: Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage of Stars”;p

    • André Snyde Lopes

      Also, Spectral Lore – III.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Seconded. What a great journey III is.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Id like to see a TYMHM on Serdce really enjoying that one and Dead Congregation is a rip snortingly excellent DM record too

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I put a vote in for Wo Fat’s The Conjuring.

    • omfg. Is this goddamned band paying people to write this comment or something? I’m so sick of hearing this.

      • Luke_22

        It appears so. Do you want me to write one to shut them up?

        • Did you like the record?

          • Luke_22

            I actually did, but not to fanboy levels of enthusiasm.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Good review I totally agree with the sentiment in your last paragraph, though music doesn’t necessarily need to be ‘fun’ for it to be fun or enjoyable It’s all about context, Im sure Watain are deadly serious about themselves…but as a music fan or human if you’re taking them too seriously and not just enjoying the spectacle you’re going to really struggle through life…

  • Wilhelm

    Uptempo, but not overtly cheesy power metal. It’s been done 10,000 times before but some bands just get it right – I would prefer a more dynamic production job BUT for some reason, it doesn’t effect the enjoyment too much. not bad at all.

  • eloli

    The last paragraph in this review quickly sums up my beef with the state of contemporary heavy metal: most bands are simply not fun to listen to.
    There are tons of competent (albeit mostly unoriginal) bands with gifted (albeit uncreative) musicians exploring countless artistic possibilities, but most of them are a chore to listen to… that’s why there are many few post 2000 bands I listen to in my car, or just crankin’ up the stereo.
    IMO, the world needs more bands like Steel Panther, Lair of the Minotaur, Slough Feg, Municipal Waste, Mastodon, Diablo Swing Orchestra and High on Fire, you know, bands that prioritize just rockin’ out and having great songs over redefining extremity or making some grandiose artistic statement.
    I got into metal back in ’84, just because listening to Ozzy, the Lepps, Mötley, Twisted Sister, WASP, Maiden, Judas, Ratt, Quiet Riot and Dio was unbelievably fun and pissed off adults around me, with made it even funner.
    Reviewing this blog’s records of the month section, you can count with one hand the albums you can just listen to and rock out instead of putting yourself into some special frame of mind to actually “get” some artistic statement.
    Oh well, time to crank myself some Dust Bolt and Lost Society.

  • Gloomer88

    Amazing Album

  • Mark

    Thanks for the heads up on this one. Fist pumping, head banging gold. Great stuff. I gotta see these guys live.