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.
Nightstryke: "Power Shall Prevail" (2017)
Style(s): NWOBHM, '80s power/speed metal
Release: Stormspell Records
Nightstryke might be a new name to you - they certainly were to me - but the sound of their music is almost as old as Heavy Metal itself. Mind you, I mean that in the best possible way. On Power Shall Prevail, their debut full length release on Stormspell Records, this youthful looking trio from Järvenpää, Finland has created an album so steeped in the classic NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) vibe that at first I thought I was listening to a reissue of an obscure album from back in the day. Hell, just take a look at the album cover - it looks like it fell out of a time capsule from 1981. Imagine my surprise when I dug a little deeper into the band's brief history and learned that they only released their debut demo, The First Stryke, in 2016!
In spite of being a "new" band, Nightstryke are obviously old souls, well versed in the sounds of the magic era that brought us the mighty Maiden, Saxon, Raven, Diamond Head, Angel Witch, and countless others. If any of the aforementioned bands find their way into your regular playlists, then Power Shall Prevail will definitely be up your street. Come on, you irons! What do you say, let's strap on our spiked wristbands and bullet belts and investigate this oh-so-tasty slab of retro-metal a bit further...
"Power Shall Prevail"
Power Shall Prevail opens with a one-minute instrumental intro, "Powerture," which brings Iron Maiden's "The Ides of March" or "Transylvania" to mind. (I assume that's intentional.) From there we segue into the title track, which kicks in with a high pitched scream that would do John Gallagher of Raven proud, coupled with machine-precise riffage that is pure Angel Witch. Throughout this album, Nightstryke doesn't deviate much from the classic NWOBHM template—Power Shall Prevail contains nine speedy tracks full of dueling twin guitars battling over a base of solid, thumping bass lines and serviceable, if not particularly spectacular, drum work (it turns out that the drums on this album were "played" by a drum machine programmed by guitarist Juho Karppinen, which explains that). When he's not screaming at the top of his lungs, guitarist/vocalist Rami Hermunen has a hoarse, croaky sort of voice that actually works very well with this sort of power/speed metal mayhem. He's no Dickinson or Halford, but his delivery is as confident and comfortable as a beat-up old leather jacket.
The irresistible "Steel Thunder" is next, and it's a so-'80s it hurts "fast car" song, (complete with revving-engine sound effects at the beginning), that will keep listeners' adrenaline levels high as they air-guitar along. Nightstryke then tries their hand at an Iron Maiden-style epic with "Story of the Forty-Seven Ronin," which gallops along nicely for its entire six-minute-plus length. From there we're back to short-but-sweet territory again on the excellent "Witches' Night" and the slasher-flick ode "Neon Killer," whose chorus is absolutely made for screaming along to. "Take You Away" is another quick, three-minute speed metal heart attack and then the album closes with another Maiden-style epic, "Mist in the Valley," which runs for nine and a half minutes but doesn't wear out its welcome in all that time. "Mist" sounds like it could've come off of Piece of Mind, with plenty of widdly-widdly guitar battles and Steve Harris-esque bass mastery, ending the album on a most satisfactory note. As soon as Power Shall Prevail came to a close, I was immediately stabbing the "replay" button and saying, "Where have these guys been all my life? I wanna hear more!"
Summing It Up
Obviously, Nightstryke is far from the most original band to come down my street, but when the material they produce is this bad-ass, I can only raise my fists in salute and say "hell yeah." The band's Facebook page indicates that they now have a real drummer and are playing semi-regular live gigs around their native Finland, which I'm sure are going down a storm. Bottom line: if you're a fan of the NWOBHM or any of the newer bands rockin' the retro vibe of that period like Ravage, White Wizzard, Air Raid, Skull Fist, Enforcer, or a hundred others, then you will definitely dig Power Shall Prevail and should add it to your shopping list immediately. Well done, fellas. Bring on the next one. My devil horns are raised up, WAY up!
Nightstryke: "Neon Killer"
The First Stryke - demo, 2016
Neon Killer - digital single, 2016
Power Shall Prevail - Stormspell Records, 2017
© 2017 Keith Abt