Nima : One of the names I’ve been seeing around often in the underground circuit lately is Stälker. But so far I had not taken the time to hear the music from this New Zealand trio featuring ex-Razorwyre members. The band has just released its debut album, ‘Shadow Of The Sword’, which appears through one of the “big boys”, Napalm Records. And after hearing this album I must say that I find it a pity that I haven’t checked them out earlier. Not that there is anything shocking going on here, but what they do does indeed sound damn tasty.
Stälker plays high-speed, blackened old-school 80s speed/thrash metal, with obvious influences by the likes of ancient Possessed, Razor, Exodus, Exciter, Kreator, Iron Angel, Living Death, Violent Force and co. For a more recent comparison you should go in the direction of bands such as Evil Invaders, Ranger, Vulture, Obsessör and especially the Swedish version of the genre and bands like Vornth, Antichrist and Armory and co. Needless to say that it’s all far from original or innovative, and the band does indeed lack a self-identity. But dammit, these guys know their business extremely well and have delivered a pack of pure and utter metal tracks that mercilessly put the neck to work from start to finish. ‘Shadow Of The Sword’ is an orgy of sharp, catchy riffing and maniacal vocals that sounds like a combination of Schmier (Destruction), Mille (Kreator) in the ‘Endless Pain’ era and Dirk Schröder (Iron Angel), and especially a young Paul Baloff. Shortly put; pure nostalgia. Besides that the album has the right and fitting production and sounds delightfully old-fashioned, which makes the nostalgic feel even stronger.
All in all this is one chunk of pure metal that will definitely appeal to the fans of the genre. I do however miss the real highlight here. Despite the fact that the songs contain the necessary variety, the tempo is quite high and rather constant in general, due to which the songs don’t make a lasting impression that easily. When you, like me, don’t have a problem with that, then you simply have a tasty old-school speed/thrasher. Along with the nine original compositions we also get a good cover version of Death’s ‘Evil Dead’, that fits strikingly well to the rest of the material. Anyway, fans of the genre definitely have another nice band/album to enjoy.