Nightshadow – Strike Them Dead

Strike Them Dead Album Cover Art

Nightshadow – Strike Them Dead
Self-Released
Release Date: 07/05/2021
Running Time: 56:01
Review by Simon Black
8/10

Nightshadow hail from San Diego, USA and despite having been around for a few years have taken until now to get this debut record onto the racks, partly due to issues with a label who are no longer in the picture, so have self-produced “Strike Them Dead” (which includes re-recordings of the tracks on their 2017 self-titled EP). The press release hints that fans of Power and Symphonic acts would like this, but it bears absolutely no resemblance to that sort of Euro Metal vibe, as is often the case when acts from the Americas approach these sub-genres. Not that there aren’t elements that would appeal to those corners, but there’s a lot more going on in the musical mix here – although Thrash and Speed Metal are top of that list.

Opener ‘Legend’ starts in pure twin harmonised NWOBHM style, before launching into a full on Speed Metal feel to its riff structure. Brian Dell’s vocals are rock ’n’ roll clean in style here, with a backing growl which works well and this kicks off the album in fine style, but he flexes that style elsewhere on the record. There is, from the get-go, some blisteringly good guitar work and not just confined to the solo breaks – listen hard and you can hear some very nifty fretwork going on throughout, even when the melodic effect in a verse seems simpler on the surface. Of course, when they do let rip, Nick Harrington and Danny Fang clearly can shred with the best of them – as in “wow, these boys can really fucking shred”.

The album then proceeds to get incrementally heavier with ‘Witch Queen’, whose brutality really takes the album up a notch. It keeps this up but nicely starts to vary the tone a bit with ‘Ripper’, which keeps the pace, but offers moments of different pace without losing the tightness and technical accuracy that blew the top of the album off. When it does change tack, as with the ballad ‘Love & Vengeance’, it continues to keep that blisteringly tight delivery, even squeezing in a spectacular bit of fret wizardry in what seems like the slowest song so far and then, half way through, the pace goes full on crazy ape Thrash for the final minutes of what is one of the longest songs on this beast of a record, not that it drags in the slightest.

The production is a bit ‘no frills’, but this really suits the stripped back brutality of their delivery and the strange hybrid of Thrash, Speed and Power Metal that’s at the heart of this disk. It’s rough and ready, but that absolutely was the right direction to take, as an excessive level of over-polish would have watered down the energy – with which this record is positively brimming. It took me a couple of listens to really appreciate Dell’s vocals, as they are so raw compared to what’s going on with the technical proficiency in the instruments, but actually I’m now a convert. Again the hybridisation of the rough and the smooth is their USP, and Dell can certainly croon when he needs to, even if some of his screams sound strained at first, although in reality this is more about pure emotion rather than the kind of vocal virtuosity that gets the numerous vocal coaches of YouTube all excited. I can also really see this band working well live, as the tonal balance of this material is just begging for a crowd. Bring it on, boys.

‘Ripper’ (Lyric Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. Legend
02. Witch Queen
03. Ripper
04. Love & Vengeance
05. Children Of The Night
06. False Truths
07. Strike Them Dead
08. Blood Penance
09. Storm Bringer
10. Mistress Of The Pit

LINE-UP:
Brian Dell – Vocals
Nick Harrington – Guitar
Danny Fang – Guitar
Chris Bader – Bass
Sean Woodman – Drums

LINKS:

Nightshadow Promo Pic

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