Striker - Play to Win - (9/10)
Published on December 13, 2018
The main two defining Striker elements are still the same, that being Daniel Cleary’s voice and the very detail oriented guitar work of Chris Segger and Tim Brown that likes to introduce little runs and melodies into the songs and add this little something to set them apart. Now when saying that the main focus of the sound has changed a bit does in no way mean that there is any less energy or power to them, but back in the days Striker would surely have been one of these arena bands that would sell out the big ones, which unfortunately is not quite the case anymore in the here and now.
Leading in with “Heart of Lies”, the Canadians come off a furious start that gives way to beautiful dynamics, soaring melodies and the already mentioned melodic lead guitars, above which Cleary takes a commanding presence and by the end of the song one is already able to sing along with the chorus, representing the power metallic side of the album, together with intense “Summoner”. What each of the songs, though, regardless of the musical focus, have in common are the Albertans’ uncanny knack for catchy melodies and dynamics that impose themselves over the glossier and slicker approach, which might be a detractor to some, as the production undoubtedly sees more layering (especially in the vocals) and the keyboards playing a bit more of a stronger role in the songs.
Take the hook of “Position of Power”, the arena anthem feeling of “Head First” or dynamic “Heavy is the Heart”, they all are unmistakably Striker and even when they venture into the terrain of (power) ballads they can keep their stamp on the songs. As so often when a certain subgenre picks up steam and other bands jump on, the danger of bands losing their identity and just becoming another face in the mass is prevalent, but despite their shift towards a what once would have been a more radio friendly sound, this troop still sticks out and for all the right reasons.
Some may hold it against them that they lost a bit of an edge, but there still is so much talent at play here that they make it believable. Whoever needed any proof that the 80s are still alive and kicking, Play to Win is a strong manifesto to this claim and keeps Striker firmly entrenched at the forefront of the NWoTHM!