Striker has been lying in wait for the moment to release this album. They’re at the forefront of the New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal, which is a genre that looks to turn the clock back to the ’70s and ’80s style of metal. However, that traditional style gets a bit of a facelift with ULTRAPOWER. Striker injects the whole thing with the traditional heavy metal you’d come to expect after a litany of great albums, but they also add some new things to their tool belt, like synth-wave, saxophones, and more. It all adds up to an album that feels more mature, while also retaining the somewhat sophomoric feel of the genre.
This is a band that’s reaching the peak of its powers musically, and you can feel it on the tracks. Each track feels radically different from one another. You’ve got Yngwie Malmsteen-inspired speed metal shredding on “Circle of Evil”, full-on ’80s electric drums on “Live To Fight Another Day”, and saxophone on “Give It All.”
ULTRAPOWER Track List
- Circle Of Evil
- Best of the Best
- Give It All
- Blood Magic
- Sucks To Suck
- Ready For Anything
- City Calling
- Turn the Lights Out
- Live To Fight Another Day
- Brawl at the Pub
1. Circle Of Evil
“Circle Of Evil” was already shown off as a single for the album, but it’s a hell of a way to start the album. This one shreds through some just absolutely vicious riffs that lull you into a false sense of security with the opening. Right off the bat you’re treated to what Striker is all about as a band. You get soaring vocals from singer Dan Cleary and the re-introduction of John Simon Fallon as guitarist adds an edge to every track, including this one.
2. Best Of The Best
If you want some classic ’80s-sounding montage music, you’ll get it with “Best Of The Best.” By the end of this track, you’ll be pumping your fist along with the band and banging your head. It’s all about being the best of the best, as the title implies. They went for more of a hard-rocking vibe here than some of the thrashier-sounding tracks on the record, but this is still a high-energy track that shows off just how far Striker has come as a band. This one is begging to be played live.
3. Give It All
Now for some softer vibes. These first three tracks really play out like the soundtrack to an ’80s teen comedy or something. You get the opening scene with “Circle Of Evil,” the training montage with “Best Of The Best,” and now the all-important showdown/big fight with “Give It All.” Talk about brain worms; this track will invade your brain, never leave, and then when you hear it again, it’ll repeat the cycle. I’m a sucker for anything saxophone and heavy metal, so this is among my favorite tracks on the record. Dan Cleary really shows off his vocal range here, not just with high notes, but the full range of notes he has to hit. If you’re down and need some motivation, you’ll be able to crank this track. Let’s just hope they get an actual saxophone on stage with them when they play it live.
4. Blood Magic
Back to some more traditional-sounding heavy metal for “Blood Magic.” The track starts off with a western-inspired guitar riff and then kicks into high gear for the most thrashy track on the album. There’s some tempo changes, but this track about a hypnotized relationship is as heavy as ULTRAPOWER gets. It’s a nice change of pace after the first three songs complete their trilogy of themes.
5. Sucks To Suck
Now back to some more sophomoric elements of Striker with “Sucks To Suck.” The bro-y vibes of this track really come off as best as a song called “Sucks to Suck” can. This is all about being better, and when someone sucks, you can tell them it sucks to suck. It’s not rocket science. It’s heavy metal. Sometimes, you just need a driving, hard-rocking track to let you know how the music can make you feel. If you need some working-out music, you can do a lot worse than “Sucks to Suck.” The breakdown in the middle of the track into the solo is head-banging goodness. You get a nice melodic solo section and then back into the thrashing.
6. Ready For Anything
We continue the thrashy-sounding vibes with “Ready For Anything” and one of the better riffs on the album. This one is more melodic and Iron Maiden-like than some of the other tracks on the record. It really stretches out the twin guitar attack of Tim Brown and John Simon Fallon. They work together in tandem, bringing out a heavy and huge sound from one another. This is another track that lets Dan Cleary really air out his voice going from high ranges to a lower sort of growl on the chorus.
7. City Calling
This is where those sorts of synth-wave, hard-rock vibes come in with what sounds like bongos and auto-tuned vocals (don’t worry, this isn’t T-Pain). The chorus for this track is the best on the album, begging for a crowd to scream it along with the band. The guitar work on the solos and interludes here is just exquisite. This is easily my favorite track on the album, with such a blending of styles, influences, and more. The last third of the track is about as good as Striker gets.
8. Turn The Lights Out
We’re back to the thrashier sound with “Turn The Lights Out” which sounds like it would really fit on Striker’s previous album, Play To Win. It’s a throwback of a track for them, but includes what already sounds like an excellent chorus for a live crowd to belt. It might be a bit generic sounding when compared to the other tracks on the album, but it still does the job of getting you pumped to rock out. Not my favorite track on the album though.
Take your body to the limit and enter the “Thunderdome” with Striker. Obviously taking inspiration from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, two men enter, one man leaves. This is about as manly as it gets for the album, talking about dueling and going mano-y-mano. However, this track is somewhat catchy, but it just doesn’t do it for me. It’s the weakest track on the album and one I found myself skipping after listening to the album a bunch of times. The last third is the real highlight, though, chugging along and galloping.
10. Live To Fight Another Day
Now we’re at the full-on synth-wave vibes with ’80s electric drums and what seems like the clear finale of the album. “Live To Fight Another Day” is about as close as Striker gets to power metal on ULTRAPOWER. It’s got some Helloween sounds with a mix of newer bands like Beast In Black as well. This song has a great message that tells the story of Striker. The band has been through adversity, lineup changes, label changes, and yet, here they are, rocking just as hard, and living to tell the story on this album. The solo section is among the best the band has ever put down on an album. It’s hard not to air guitar along with them and it heads into this electric interlude section near the last third of the song that just simply rocks.
11. Brawl At The Pub
After the epic tones of “Live To Fight Another Day,” Striker reminds us all why they’re here, with a hard-rocking finale for the ages with “Brawl At The Pub”. LIke the title, this is all about a brawl at the pub. There are some shredding solos, great melodic vocals, and some comedic voices over the top of it throughout, telling the story about this all-out fight. The album might have some softer influences, but this track reminds you just where Striker is with their music. They’re here to have a good time, rock you, and leave you with a party atmosphere.
Wrap It Up: ULTRAPOWER Is Among The Best Albums Of 2024, Already
Striker struck a balance with ULTRAPOWER that a lot of other bands could not. They somehow fit in the party, happy-go-lucky vibes of glam metal with the thrashy tendencies of traditional heavy metal. It’s a stunning album that shows off how far these dudes have come in the music industry and with their songwriting. Combine the vicious riffs, soaring vocals, epic tones, and just the overall package of melding old with new, and you get one of the best albums of 2024, and it’s only February.
In a time when old head metal fans whine and complain about new bands not stepping up to replace the dinosaurs and legends of old, they’ve been staring at us the entire time. They’re called Striker.
ULTRAPOWER releases wherever you get your music on February 2nd. You can pre-order and order physical copies from their website here.
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