Nima : Yes! Yes! Yes! Canadian Striker is coming with a new album at the end of this month and that for me calls for a celebration! I have been following this band since their first EP, 'Road Warrior' (2009) and since then they belong to one of my favorites of the new old-school movement. And an album like 'Play To Win' only makes my appreciation for this band grow. Because goddamn, what a great record this has become!
On their sixth long player, the men fortunately continue in the same style as what we are used to from them; a delightful mix of 80s heavy, power, speed and glam/hair metal. The pounding opener 'Heart Of Lies' is immediately a powerful and very tasty entrant. The fist can immediately be put into the air and the neck muscles are instantly put to work. My god, already after this song you're almost exhausted, and there are still nine songs and a good 37 minutes to go. What is striking afterwards is that the speed metal elements are quite reduced, and that the album has turned out to be quite melodic in general. It is mainly the hair metal and sturdy hardrock that have the upper hand on this album. Here and there we even come across a more “progressive" approach (but everything done in the 80s' traditions).
The songs have a wonderful 80s atmosphere and character, but without sounding dated for even a moment. Despite the melodic character, the album rocks from start to finish and the whole remains incredibly powerful and above all very catchy. From the first to the last second, the record is full of beautiful riffs, catchy melodies and damn powerful and catchy vocals. And speaking of vocals; Dan Cleary has been an excellent singer from the beginning, but his performance on this album puts him at the absolute top as far as I'm concerned. What a powerful, clear and incredibly beautiful voice this man has. Just listen to songs like 'Head First', 'On The Run', 'The Front' and the semi-ballads 'Standing Alone' and 'Hands Of Time' ... Oh well, I might as well have mentioned all the songs, because they are all excellent to sublime. That applies not only to the vocals and the songwriting, but of course also to the fantastic instrumental performances of the gentlemen. Thanks to the powerful, clear production by Hendrik Udd (Firewind, Hammerfall a.o.) – which keeps the old-fashioned charm intact – 'Play To Win' is a very pleasant and a highly addictive album that fans of 80s hardrock/metal and bands like Skid Row, WASP, Mötley Crüe, Whitesnake, Stryper, (the sturdier works by) Scorpions and similar acts, but also bands like Maverick and compatriots Skull Fist and Cauldron will definitely appreciate. Undoubtedly one of the better albums of 2018.