I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Fire Strike - "Slaves of Fate"
Genre: Traditional Heavy Metal
Release: Stormspell Records, Sept. 2017
The traditional or "true" metal revival that's been taking the hard-rock underground by storm these past few years shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. It seems like every time I turn around, there's another new (or at least, new to me) crew of young'uns popping up in another corner of the world, partying like it's 1986 all over again. There must be a lot of kids out there who are discovering their parents' stash of NWOBHM and thrash vinyl in the closet and using it as inspiration to start their own denim-n-leather combos... which is fine by me!
The newest old-school metal squadron to come across my radar is Fire Strike, who hail from Brazil, a land long known for its fanatical support of heavy metal music in all of its forms. The female-fronted Fire Strike has been kicking around since the early '00s and has two previous EPs under their studded bullet belts, but they've only now just released their debut full length, Slaves of Fate, via the true-metal specialists at Stormspell Records (in the U.S.) and Shinigami Records (in Brazil).
"Reach For Your Life" (2017)
Slaves of Fate kicks off with the righteous call-to-arms anthem "Reach For Your Life," and the blast of twin-guitar harmonics put forth by six stringers Helyad Amaro and Henrique Schuindt make it obvious from the get-go that Iron Maiden are a pretty major influence on Fire Strike. When vocalist Aline Nunes steps up to the mic to take command of her troops, the band's other major influence instantly becomes evident - Germany's long-reigning metal queen Doro Pesch, of Warlock fame. So in a nutshell, if you can imagine an alternate universe where Doro took over singing for Iron Maiden circa Powerslave, you're in Fire Strike's ballpark.
"Master of the Seas" is next and it shows off more of Aline's impressive range of high wails and "whooaa-ohhh-ohhh's," while bassist Edivan Diamond's very Steve Harris-esque bass runs lock down the driving rhythms. The title track rumbles along on a slow burning note ala Sabbath's "Heaven and Hell," leading into the nearly seven-minute epic "Electric Sun." The tempo picks up again on the chugging "The Wolves Don't Cry," and "Losing Control" starts off with a tasteful little acoustic interlude before heading back into familiar Maiden-esque territory. The hard-charging "Streets Of Fire" is a speedy number that adds a pinch of thrash-metal grit to the proceedings and features lots of cool widdly-widdly guitar dueling between Amaro and Schuindt. Aline sounds particularly "at home" during faster-paced numbers like this; her band mates should up the tempos more often and let her go for broke! The crunchy "Lust" sounds more '80s L.A. than NWOBHM, and the album closes with another effective anthem, "Our Shout is Heavy Metal," which is bound to get crowds singing along with their fists in the air, chanting along with its refrain of "We're making Heavy Metal! We're singing Heavy Metal! We're playing Heavy Metal!" -- Manowar would be proud.
It's also worth mentioning that Slaves of Fate is a very nicely produced affair for an indie recording. The production and mix are very well done, striking just the right balance between the musicians and the vocals. Like many South American bands, Fire Strike's lyrics can sometimes be awkward due to the language barrier between English and the band's native Portuguese, but with music that's this high quality I doubt that most listeners will even notice.
"Slaves of Fate"
Summing it up...
Obviously Fire Strike are not breaking any new musical ground and Slaves of Fate is not the most original album to come down the pike this year, but what the band may lack in innovation, they more than make up for with their instrumental and vocal skills and their complete and total fanboy enthusiasm. This is a band whose love for the classic era of tried & true, denim & leather heavy metal bleeds through every note they play. Doro, Warlock, Iron Maiden, Dio, and Black Sabbath fans who have worn out their old records and are looking for some new blood should definitely check out Slaves of Fate -- it's a high quality, headbanging retro-metal ride. Horns up!
Fire Strike Discography:
Lion and Tiger (EP) - Thirteen Records, 2013
Metal das Ruas Vol. II - Metal Maximus, 2014 (split album with Armadilha)
Slaves of Fate - Stormspell Records, 2017