Yeeha! Here we go again.
It feels like we just covered the newest piece of Bewitcher with their idea of Speed Metal1) a few minutes ago. And now we are at it again. Only this time, all this metal goodness more feels like some rough-hewn crazy mix of overheated Power Metal and the speedier realms of Heavy Metal.
A piece that makes you want to strap on some body armor. Or – at least – makes you leap for that war axe that rusted away in the corner. Because goblins and monsters surely await somewhere.
Yep, we’re indeed speaking about the San Diego-based Nightshadow and their new record Strike Them Dead. And they waste no time to make themselves known. In fact, they thrash their way forward so fast, Hetfield2) could not even scream ‘Yeah’ once, and they’d already be half a mile further down their metal road.
Boy, this often sounds like some older version of Unleash The Archers. They too like(d) to burn them fretboards at a hyper-fast pace with the omnipotent screams of Ms. Slayes scraping our eardrums clean.
Which makes me wonder just how many axes Nick Harrington and Danny Fang ground into dust with this shredfest the RMR deck crew found on display here. Both guitar wizards made us hold on to our seats with their pretty outstanding displays of riffs, solos, and licks. This is guitar geekery that we seldom see at such an astute level of mastery. Furthermore, it looks like they pass leads at times and truly work together as some sort of a tag team. The RMR crew here already discovered bands that have that capability. But they’re rather few and far between.
Strike Them Dead would get pretty near to perfection if only those damned vocals wouldn’t ring out somewhat off-kilter now and then. The fiery starter Legend already made me wince once Brian Dell‘s voice soared into lalaland. Most of the time, though, the notes are spot on. Personally, I would have preferred a somewhat more melodic singing style, as opposed to the shouted vocals that often filter through. But then again, that singing style seems to be a sign of the time with many a band going there.
Now, I appreciated the boundless energy these guys throw at the audience. The folks over at Nightshadow really seem to have fun torturing their instruments, and so they should. But more on some tracks than on others. The crunchy Witch Queen that comes with a slightly cheesy overcoat really got us with that sing-along chorus where they lustily chant to ‘kill the witch queen’. To the point that I almost felt pity for the poor girl. Almost. And besides, the record is full of those corny lines, all ready for those screaming sessions with fans once concerts will again be a thing.
But the title Strike Them Dead3) really gives you hints of what is to come. It all seems to revolve around the deadly and the sinister. Take Ripper for instance. Apart from some insane shredding to make Michael Amott pale with envy, the overall theme turns to the gruesome. Like a Cannibal Corpse album cover that somehow translated into lyrics for Nightshadow.
And apart from a few sugary half-ballads, the record is pretty devoid of cheese, that dreadful disease of many a Power Metal piece. After all, the bloodthirst prevails, and that cannot be had on morose stories of love and hurt. And that is a good thing.
Now, wild shredding and insane wailing about the soundscape can also lead to some sensory overload. And this is what happened to yours truly further down the tracklist. Also, the album loses steam somewhat after mid-point, if that’s the right expression for that kind of record.
It felt a bit those folks kinda ran out of ideas to beef up their tune. A problem not even meditation on the beach of the cold Pacific could rectify, apparently. Well, perhaps they should have joined some seal training that happens there, but then this might not be to everyone’s liking.
Finally, however, Strike Them Dead is a rock-solid Power and Heavy Metal record. One that doesn’t thrive on cheese, but instead pushes the band members’ musical prowess at breakneck speed to the forefront. These guys just rocked themselves pretty high up onto the speedy metal food chain. And they did that with a manic drive that almost lost this reviewer in the process.
But fear naught, Nightshadow will be going places. Their new record is not perfect, true, but it sure shows the potential of this band. And once they ironed out all those impurities, they’ll be ready to take on the big guys.
Maidens out there, take heed. There’s new talent on the block.
Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Self-Released | Web: Facebook
Release Date: 7 May 2021
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