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Monday, 15 September 2014

Reviews: Striker, Crimson Shadows, Lonely Kamel, Steak

Napalm records have gone mad this month and released a lot of albums at the same time so here's four I fancied:

Striker: City Of Gold (Napalm Records)

Canada have a bustling traditional metal scene at the moment with so many good bands keeping the makers of high tops and bullet belts in work. City Of Gold is Striker's third album and I will admit I had heard of them but never listened to them, I thought I'd give them a go as I like bands such as Enforcer, Cauldron, Axxion etc. This album could just have a one word review of WOW! This album is amazing, it encompasses everything you need in traditional metal guitars of Chris Segger and Timothy Brown that scream (for vengeance of course), Adam Brown's drums that plough through all opposition, Wild Bill's galloping bass work see the intro to Mind Control and the frankly awe inspiring vocals of Dan Cleary he is part Dickinson part Eric Adams and can has a stratospheric range, there are 15 tracks to this album and none of them them feel forced or out of place from the Municipal Waste style thrash of Second Attack, the speed metal assault of Underground, the 80's sleaze of Bad Decision and the epic Maidenesque quality of All I Want and the title track; all have some amazing guitar work with solos and riffs galore running throughout as well as the phenomenal vocals. Every song attacks straight out of the blocks, with a mix of old school metal with a modern sheen, hell they even do a good cover of Two Minutes To Midnight (although that does as always drop them a point) still this album is frankly awesome, now excuse me while I buy everything they have released! 9/10 

Crimson Shadows: Kings Among Men (Napalm Records)

Crimson Shadows are also from Canada and they play a brand of death metal that is reminiscent of Amon Amarth but also very similar to Dragonforce in delivery so cue speedy power metal guitars, blast beat drums, growled/screamed/clean vocal harmonies. As soon as Rise To Power kicks off you can hear that epic melodic element kick you right in the face with the percussive, rhythm assault kicking things off at a violent pace, before the dual guitar attack rips you a new one, probably the best song on the album is the second track Heroes Among Us mainly because it features a lot of powerful clean vocals that merge well with the death vocals in the background. This is possibly one of the bands downfalls, if they just had the clean vocals then I think I would enjoy the band more but the death vocals ruin it a bit for me, the detract a little and take away a lot of the impact from the extreme power metal delivery of the rest of the music. Still if you like your power metal with a bit of grunting and screaming then you could do much worse than Crimson Shadows; they will appeal to fans of Sonata Arctica, Dragonforce as well as Amon Amarth and Children Of Bodom, As I said the music is good as are the clean vocals its just for me the addition of death vocals that puts me off a bit, still a great album if the vocals appeal. 7/10  

Lonely Kamel: Shit City (Napalm Records)

So yes it is a pretty awful name for an album but that aside Lonely Kamel have got quite a neat album of blues based rock with stoner influences. Sounding as if they come from swamps of America, Lonely Kamel are actually Norwegian but you wouldn't notice unless you knew. The band merge big meaty, sludge riffs, with a fuzzy bass, crashing drums and a whiskey soaked blues howl all of these coming together to drive these nine tracks, the band do have stoner influences but they are more a of a blues rock band than anything else. The title track kicks things off with a snotty punk vibe, while White Lines has a trippy stoner vibe to it that invites you to enjoy the ride and Is It Over? is a bass heavy, bluesfest with lots smoke and haze. Lonely Kamel channel Blue Cheer, Leaf Hound, Vanilla Fudge as well as a dash of Hendrix and smidgen of Sabbath (on the closing Nightjar) The bands sound is rooted deep in their psychedelic blues based delivery. Shit City is their fourth album and it doesn't reinvent the wheel but it does do is continue on the path Lonely Kamel have ploughed their career, they deliver this stuff so well but if you are looking for deviation you will be sorely disappointed because when you hear the slow, heavy dirge of Seal The Perimeter replete with Ozzy style vocoder, you know that this is a band that stay true to their vision and keep the music of their heroes alive. If like your rock with a nod to the blues, drenched in reverb and fuelled by plant based narcotics then Lonely Kamel may be for you, go check out the bloozy Falling Down to see if you can get a handle on the Kamel!! 7/10

Steak: Slab City (Napalm Records)

Before you listen to Steak you have to ask yourself a question...do you like Kyuss? If the answer is no then walk away, however if the answer is "Hell Yes!" then desert rockers Steak will be right up your street, the wurlitzer of Coma starts things off as the bass throb builds in the background leading up to the scratchy guitar intro, then the drums kick in and it all comes together in true desert rock style with a sludge riff rolling along while Kippa shouts on top. So far so stoner, with the mighty Kyuss being the main basis of their sound but genre legends Fu Manchu, Nebula, Karma To Burn and even Sleep all get nods from the distorted, fuzz driven guitars of Reece, the Olivieri style hypnotic basswork of Cam and the free-form drumming of Sammy. The fuzz continues on Liquid Gold which is cut from the Orange Goblin sound of Sabbath worshipping, Pisser is guaranteed to get your head nodding with it's big, fat, brooding riff, which moves into the white noise interlude brings the almost Monster Magnet sounding Roadhead into life. These Londoners have appeared at fests all over the world the most notable being Desertfest in 2013 where they were on the same bill as Pentegram, Dozer etc. As a debut Slab City is a strong one full of the fuzzy, stoner rock of those bands from the American desert. If you don't like stoner rock, then you will not like this, however if you want a blissed out, riff worshipping rock album you will be unlikely to find one as good as this 8/10

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