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Striker - Armed to the Teeth (Napalm Records)

By: David E. Gehlke

[7.5/10] Absolute silliness. Guess that sums it up for Edmonton's Striker, who fancy prehistoric creatures on their album cover and glowing cod pieces in their promo shots. And that's fine, as long as the songs are there. They're here, in a sort of Killers Maiden way, amplified with power metal tentacles that excrete Gamma Ray's more carefree side without sacrificing any melodic and sing-along gusto. In any event, Armed to the Teeth has more spit and shine to it than meets the eye.

On Armed to the Teeth (the band's second full-length), Striker effectively evokes practically every metal cliché in the book, but does it in such an inoffensive fashion, that it's easy to like these Canucks. They're like loveable class clowns in a sense, but the rafter-reaching vocals of Dan Clearly are prominent and powerful, with proof residing in the chorus sections of "Let it Burn," "Fight For Your Life," and "Wolf Gang." The aforementioned "Fight For Your Life" is probably the pick of the litter, boasting a Riot Fire Down Under-like persuasion, sure to be a rabble-rouser in the live setting...or when you're at home banging your first in front of your computer.

The real zip comes in the form of burners like album opener "Forever," or the power metal frenzy of "Feed My Fire." Yet Striker isn't power or thrash; they're a caustic combination of the two with plates full of easy riffs, melodic solos, harmony trade-offs, and songs about rocking, rocking...and rocking. Best of all, Striker doesn't have to spoon-feed this to anyone; it all goes down in a storm, rather smoothly.

A far more enticing prospect than lollygagging retro thrash and dragon-fighting power metal, the line Striker is able to blur on Armed to the Teeth is halfway remarkable. It's a bit of a bummer they'll probably languish in no-man's land because of their unwillingness to conform to either style, but there's a lot of bang for one's buck here. Probably more than anyone would initially anticipate, actually.

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