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She’s A Neon Trench Coat Killer - 89%

CHAIRTHROWER, March 13th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Steel Thunder Records

Ah, those Finns! They sure know how to churn out good old fashioned and congenial “NWOTHM”; such is the case with Nightstryke, yet another fine genre purveyor from said Nordic nation - more specifically, Järvenpää - which, in 2017, launched its effortlessly acclimatizing nine-track, forty-two minute full-length debut (courtesy of Steel Thunder Records) reassuringly titled Power Shall Prevail. Indeed, I was reeled in on first listen as it sounds like a compelling amalgam of Volture, Hellfire and Blizzen (insert free-wheeling, fist-pumping and festive beer mug clanging emoj here!).

Following a ruefully swaying, one and a half minute instrumental in “Powerture”, the listener is raucously accosted by front/ax man Rami Hermunen’s debilitating sky-high yell as well as concise and liberating Brent Hubbard/Jack Bauer (both Volture vocalists, mind) evoking cries on the revved up, jimmy jangling title track and opener proper whilst immediately discernible are Leevi Lehtinen’s (RIP) fluently pulsing and bopping bass lines which yield all kind of serpentine hooks and snags to the backdrop of (the other guitarist) Juho Karppinen's loosely caroming drum programming - yes, you heard me right! That said, I initially didn't realize the skins weren't organic; who would, as they're flawlessly executed.

Primordially, the quartet’s tight yet unstrained band chemistry shows on each track, from the methed-out Rick Derringer evoking “Hawk of the Night” (dig its bodacious 70s style boogie and wickedly retro guitar harmonies!) to the album’s extravagant closer and top highlight, “Mist in the Valley”, of which the crisply rollicking triplet based riffs and intensely mirthful chorus happily bring to mind 3 Inches of Blood’s roughshod but oh-so-melodic countenance on its respective debut, 2002's Battlecry Under A Winter Sun. Scilicet, I’m one happy camper! (All complaints can be directed towards Miriam Webster).

Nerdy ramblings aside, this release isn't outright mind-blowing or trailblazing but non-committal and fun in the best possible way. The production is very smooth yet not over-polished and sterile while each band mate's contribution duly sticks out, from buddy's ingratiating and adventuresome vocals to his and Juho's briskly shimmering, at times, neo-classical chops, the likes of which pronouncedly pepper the brief yet hectic "Witches Night" with a terrific, dominating solo section as well as the early Iron Maiden-ish "Take You Away", which grippingly honors the 1982 classic "Hallowed Be Thy Name" as well as memorably carving its breezy sing-along chorus onto the psyche.

While they're are no weak tracks or watered down moments, it's really the last four which have me return again and again. Lyrically, I'm most smitten by the cool-as-hell "Neon Killer' as Rami's laid-back albeit dangerous delivery ideally behoves the venomous and raw chromatic riff-age so poignantly buoyed by Lehtinen's maniacal bass frenzy. Basically, I was dumbfounded this slaying cut wasn't a cover but in fact an astoundingly fresh yet early 80s sounding original - in other words, a bona fide modern day classic! Although SlayerDeath666 pretty much nailed Nightstryke and Power Shall Prevail's genial authenticity and flair, I simply had to join the fray. Essentially, it's per-requisite listening for any self-respecting traditional metal head - highly recommended!

"They were one with the mist in the valley
Charge towards the guns, time to meet your maker
They were one with the mist in the valley
Remember their name, honor the light brigade!"