1. Born By Fire 2. Fake Beliefs 3. Angel In Exile 4. Inner Voice 5. Undying Love 6. Final Fight 7. Streets Of Glory 8. Forever Young 9. Strikelight
Following up my successful column on the great Greek metal scene comes my review of Strikelight's debut album, a young group of diehards who envelope and embrace the essence of NWOBHM. Spawned by the likes of Maiden and Tokyo Blade, Strikelight recall the days of denim and leather glory, a band that is fueled by the fires of the past. Looking beyond today's modern identity crisis, these phenomenal metal heads are perfectly secure in their 80s cloak, donning the armor of choice to rock hard and ride free. With this debut through Eat Metal Records, Greece adds another warrior to their classy frontline.
Strikelight was formed in early 2000 by bassist Thodoris Vogiatzis. The band went through several lineup changes before settling on George Stavropoulos (vocals), George Hararis (guitars), Nick Papakostas (guitars), and Bill Xirokostas (drums). Joined by Vogiatzis, the band united to record the demo "Born By Fire" in December of 2003. With the release of the demo came a contract from Greece's Eat Metal Records, who quickly added the group to their already impressive underground. Now with the debut upon the masses, Strikelight are looking out for number one, keeping the metal flame burning in true metal style for years to come.
I've always been a huge fan of the early 80s, holding labels like Ebony and Neat in high regards when it comes to classic new wave offerings. Anyone who knows me will have surely heard Tokyo Blade or Savage blasting from my airwaves on any given day. The combination of raw twin guitars and melodic hooks has always been enough to keep me interested. From the likes of Samurai and Touched to other underground staples like Cloven Hoof and Blade Runner, new wave has always intrigued me with it's "less than perfect" delivery. Apparently Thodoris Vogiatzis understands that important factor, keeping this album very elementary, deeply rooted in the 80s thought patterns. Less is indeed more.
Stirring opener "Born By Fire" catches fire quickly, with the tag tandem of Hararis and Papakostas playing well off of each other. Think of Dianno styled Maiden and crossed with Tokyo Blade. The song stays roughly mid-tempo throughout, never allowing any vocals to venture into the album's opener. After the two minute plus intro the album really gets cooking, heating up with "Fake Beliefs", a scorching fast break with plenty of melody and hooks, breathing new life into power metal by simply taking a few strides backwards. Vocalist Stavropoulos could have recorded these vocals in '80, with the mix and recording doing justice to the album's aged sound. This is completely done with respect and admiration for the metal Gods, really not trying to sound cheap or phony in anyway, simply honoring and upholding the classic metal standards. Steve Harris styled bass lines punctuate the quick punch of "Angel In Exile", while KISS styled drama and emotion creeps in on "Undying Love". Favorites for me are the "Thundersteel" inspired "Streets Of Glory", the lightning fast "Forever Young", and the sonic firestorm "Final Fight".
If you are a fan of 80s metal, then this is mandatory listening. If you are looking for Nevermore, Iced Earth, Seven Witches styled modern metal, look elsewhere. Greece is mostly made from the roots of new wave and Strikelight takes it to the extreme. They have paid tribute to an important era in metal history, completely ruling the kingdom with this fire breathing scorcher. I can only imagine the band will improve upon this and get better year after year. This debut is a worthy addition to the already stellar lineup of Greece hopefuls. Highly Recommended!
Band Site- www.strikelight.net
Label Site- www.eatmetalrecords.com
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.
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