Review: ShadowStrike’s Infinite Power Suggests Infinite Potential

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It’s been a very good year for USPM (US Power Metal for the unread plebeian). If nothing else, you could chalk that victory up to Noble Beast’s killer debut back in March. I put that thing on perpetual repeat for the following four months and made very little room for anything else. I regret that for one reason, and one reason only — now I’m late to the ShadowStrike party and all the fucking hats are taken.

I know what  some of you  most of you  all but one of you are probably thinking: I hate power metal. You guys are so predictable. A wise, universally-respected man once said “If you don’t like power metal, it’s because you’re insecure.” I’m pretty sure it was Bruce Campbell. If you don’t like Bruce Campbell, I’m pretty sure it was whoever your greatest hero is. So pay attention. Though Infinite Power clocks in at about 40 minutes, ShadowStrike is calling it an EP and perpetuating the recent trend of surprisingly impressive power metal debuts. These Long Island newcomers ride to join the battle for metal with sharpened swords, providing welcome — and much needed — reinforcements.

The intro to “Gales of Winter” builds like a LARP-happy Screaming for Vengeance for about one minute before opening the EP up with both barrels. Soon an electrifying solo segues into a seriously fist-pumping transition which ends up introducing a fairly standard verse. The pre-chorus gallops in to save the day here, and it runs straight to the chorus where it sprouts its powerchord-fueled wings of steel and soars through the synthclouds, as per power metal routine, but with “Emerald Sword“-level triumph. Matt Krais’ singing is the key to ShadowStrike’s choral victory whether you want to believe it or not. Granted, he doesn’t have perfect control, but he operates within a respectably broad range (our very own Randall Thor ashamedly admits to being defeated by him in battles at both ends of the vocal range),  and his timbre is just right for this type of power metal — somewhat nasally without being overtly geeky. Fine, it’s overtly geeky. But it works. Like a little Kai-in-training, who hasn’t yet developed the commanding vibrato and inhuman range.

Krais’ enthusiasm is vital. His love of the genre is as obvious as it is contagious, and his ardor elevates every chorus to a level seldom reached, even by more technically proficient singers. When he sings “I will take the sword from the sheath(?) / Remember, never give up on your dreams!” in “Storm of Ages,” every part of your logic will tell you to cringe at the lyrics and slight flatness, but instead you’ll clench your fist, raise it to the skies and think: “Yeah, fuck giving up on dreams!” And if you’re not feeling the chorus in “Winds in the Sky,” I’ll never be alone with you because you’re a sociopath and probably a murderer.

Krais also avoids a problem quite prevalent in many frilly-beshirted power metal vocalists — the lust for the spotlight. When he lets the instruments take the stage, the instruments really take the stage. He and Sean Walls are absolutely excellent guitarists who have no trouble soloing back and forth efficiently for 3-4 minutes at a time without a single second feeling excessive. During “The Journey Begins” they even dabble in Dragonforce territory, which is territory that should only ever be dabbled in. Jon Krais and Alex Coughlin, on bass and drums respectively, keep up throughout.

American though they may be, the boys in ShadowStrike clearly take most of their cues from European power metal and all its keyboard-heavy idiosyncrasy. These dudes pull no punches with the keys and discriminate against no sound effect; 80’s synth-worship, flutes, strings, choirs, and chiptunes all get their airtime, and they all really empower the music. While the two 8-bit-centric songs at the end struck me as cheap at first, it didn’t take too many listens for them to charm the nerd in me (the not-nerd in me, for the record, pretty much equates to dead skin and dandruff flakes) and now I wouldn’t have the songs without them. Album closer “Last Fire World” is both the darkest cut on the record and the most chiptune-laden, which may sound like a discrepancy, but isn’t. It’s more Shadowgate/Castlevania than Contra. If that sentence made sense, you’re a huge nerd too.

ShadowStrike isn’t breaking new ground for power metal with Infinite Power, but it’s a pretty incredible first appearance that has me downright excited for their future. Like Noble Beast’s debut in March, I’m having a hard time putting this one down.

1.5/5 FLUSHES

Get Infinite Power for $5 on Bandcamp and like ShadowStrike on Facebook.

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  • ALSO: With the help of our pal Randall Thor, I could probably score an interview with these dudes. Would anyone be interested in that? Upvote if yes.

    • Tyree

      Just wanted to let you know that you have an award/trophy under your name.

      • Metaphysical Anus

        You see it too? I thought that I was going crazy… even more crazy.

        • Tyree

          He must ov won it for being the raddest mother fucker around.

          Edit: “Must have ov”

          • Metaphysical Anus

            People writing “must of” instead of “must have” rustle my jimmies so much.

          • Tyree

            I am so smart, S. M. R. T.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            I’m a fucking hypocrite. I make grammar mistakes and spell shit wrong all the time.

      • W.

        What does it meeeeaaaan?

        • I admit that I awarded the trophy to myself.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            You cheating bastard!

          • Stockhausen

            I hold nothing against you.

          • if you hadn’t done that, we’d have given it to you.

        • Negrodamus

          It says on there “Featured By ToH”.

        • Knight Solaire

          Cheer up sleepy jean!

        • Tyree

          What dose it all mean!?!

      • and it is the featured comment, something that IGN does too

    • The Satan ov Hell

      Do it! Meanwhile I will continue to fail to get an interview with Greg Lake.

      • Metaphysical Anus

        The Greg Lake?

        • Knight Solaire

          Yes! Only I’m not doing well at it. A man can dream though.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Yes you can. I will support you on your endeavor.

          • Not Vincent Bennett

            That’s quitter talk. You can do it and you know you can do it. Do it for us at the Toliet!

      • Occams_Razor_Ramon

        You could always just go to Lake Greg for a weekend.

      • Not Vincent Bennett

        You lucky fucking bastard. Emerson Lake and Palmer are the band that all other progressive rock bands aim to be but fail in their quest to become. Their showmanship was the best thing ever and may be Macho Man tier level amazing. I only break out the Macho Man tier for things that can equal the greatness of Randy Savage and the only thing that has it other than ELP is his rap album.

    • Bert Banana

      I can get you an interview with The Visit…which will very likely lead to an interview with Musk Ox

  • Damnit. I liked it until the vocals.

  • Metaphysical Anus

    I was going to listen to it, but then I realized that it’s power metal.
    Edit: I decided not to be a douche and I listened to it. I regret what I have done.

  • This some real Renaissance Festival shit.

    • Metaphysical Anus

      Is that a good or a bad thing?

      • I don’t understand the question.

        • Metaphysical Anus

          Is “Renaissance Festival shit” a compliment or an insult?

          • Right I get it, but isn’t the answer obvious?

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Well, it has “shit” in it.

          • EXCUSE MY LIMITED VOCABULARY.
            In this instance shit is a noun replacing the word stuff, because the word shit is much metaler. More metaler. Metalist.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            I think you’re looking for “more metal”?

          • Not Vincent Bennett

            Am I getting the janitor position or not? I want to know if I should change my username to Janitor Jim Duggan or not.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Ask Joe, I’m not the one hiring people.

          • Not Vincent Bennett

            Why didn’t you tell me that? Oh well, I’m changing my name to what I said it would be anyway.

          • I’m always looking for more metal, son.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            I’m not your son. I don’t think that we’re related. I you’re Canadian, there’s a miniscule chance that we are related.

          • Poop Mango

            SHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit

      • It’s a good thing if you’re at a Renaissance Festival. Just like weilding a sword and shield, I would not listen to this outside that setting. That being said, I just got to 4:50 and I’m not gonna lie, I’m grooving like a motherfucker to that riff.

        • Yeah I totally don’t bring my sword and shield everywhere I go hahaha why would you assume that……..

  • Beunhaas

    WTF is a Shadow Strike? That sounds like a really bad First-Person Shooter.

    • Metaphysical Anus

      I sounds like a Pokemon move to me.

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        I told you I was going to do it. I am now the official janitor of the Toilet.

        • Metaphysical Anus

          Dammit, now I have to keep my old job.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            Oh well. I’m a happy janitor, even though I don’t know how I can unclog a toilet with a 2 by 4.

    • Occams_Razor_Ramon

      Given the music, I’d say it’s a Dark Elf’s special ability in a Turn Based RPG

    • Poop Mango

      Oh … it’s a … special time in a boy’s life when … got to go!

      • Metaphysical Anus

        Where are you running? Come back and finish your story!

    • W.

      It’s a dark technique only learned at the highest levels of LARP initiation. It is said that only the chosen ones may perform it.

      • Metaphysical Anus

        I saw a big LARP party two days ago. I couldn’t help but laugh.

      • Stockhausen

        …tell us more…

        • Metaphysical Anus

          I think he might be a LARP kind of guy.

  • Howard Dean

    I will admit that I don’t often listen to power metal. I honestly cannot dig the extremely keyboard-heavy and falsetto-y Finnish/Italian style of PM, but I’ve always had a soft spot for some of the USPM bands, especially ones that have more than a scoop of traditional heavy metal grittiness thrown in the mix. I can appreciate the guitar work, which is often amazing and majestic, but the overall package you get with most power metal is hard to take.

    That being said, I listened to this entire song, and actually enjoyed a fair amount of it!

    • HOWARD DEAN 2016 BYAH

      • Metaphysical Anus

        I think you’ve gone a little bit ahead of us.

    • Metaphysical Anus

      You insulted me!

      • Howard Dean

        You have to admit that the mounds of horrible Finnish power metal out there is essentially full blown AIDS. However, ye olde fatherland makes up for it with its ridiculously good black metal and OSDM scenes.

        • Metaphysical Anus

          There are no Finnish power metal bands!

        • Knight Solaire

          ondfodt, sargeist, and behexen, pretty solid stuff

          • Metaphysical Anus

            You forgot Beherit and the vocalist of Deathspell Omega.

          • Knight Solaire

            Beherit are far more than solid.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Beherit is love, Beherit is life.
            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y8zQSA2qvw

          • Howard Dean

            I certainly didn’t forget Mikko. DsO are my darlings!

            Also: IMPALED NAZARENE.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            I’m not that into Impaled Nazarene. There’s a funny story about them and Beherit. Mikko’s private life is, at times, sightly weird.

          • Howard Dean

            Mikko’s other music and business ventures are more than slightly weird, too. And what I’ve heard of his private life is kind of unsettling. Dude is into some crazy shit.

          • Metaphysical Anus
          • Howard Dean

            Totally agree. Throw in Horna, Rahu, and Oranssi Pazuzu, and we’re making hay when the sun shines.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Valonielu was such a good album. One of my favourites from last year.

          • Howard Dean

            Totally. Byah, Anus!

          • Metaphysical Anus

            What does this “byah” mean? I’ve been wondering for a while now.

          • Tyree
          • Metaphysical Anus

            Thank you, Tyrone.

          • Tyree

            You are welcome Butt Hole.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            That hit me in my own knee.

          • KJM

            I was hoping youtube had the ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ version.

            Eh, I voted for the Keebler Elf in the 2004 primaries anyway.

          • Howard Dean

            In 2004, presidential candidate Howard Dean made an intense and excited speech in front of a large crowd and numerous television cameras, wherein he performed the infamous “Dean Scream,” which was sort of an unintelligible and atavistic sound. When written out as onomatopoeia, the Dean Scream is “byyyyyyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh” or “byah” for short.

            Watch this video to see the actual scream.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwkNnMrsx7Q

          • i was so proud of you then!
            (in a serious note, who the phuck gets so riled up about politicians like that? don’t you have other turds to flush?)

          • Tyree

            Oranssi Pazuzu album last year was so good. Weird shit but gooood!

          • Howard Dean

            That was a really great record, and yes, very weird. The third track (Uraanisula) off that album has a really creepy vibe to it. Good times.

  • Knight Solaire

    I wont lie. Right now I want to start a power metal band called Warriors of Sunlight, and GLORIOUSLY SING OF THE SUNBROS!

    • I’m in.

      • Knight Solaire

        Someone out there is readying a Darkwraith Black Metal band to combat our golden glow as we speak.

        • Beunhaas

          I’d start a Gaping Dragon Death metal band.

          • Knight Solaire

            The Depths… ahh the horror of being cursed by those basilisks the first time.

          • Beunhaas

            The Basilisks were indeed thoroughly annoying, but the Gaping Dragon made up for it. That was one of the most epic bosses in any game I’ve played.

          • I don’t know if I just lucked out, but he was really easy. Stray Demon ,on the other hand, took me over 50 tries.

          • Beunhaas

            It was not that hard, but the first time seeing that thing was like, whoa.

          • It was pretty awesome.

          • Knight Solaire

            If you wanna talk luck, the first time I was in Darkroot basin the hydra killed all the crystal macguffins for me, while I was sprinting naked to get the stone set.

          • I opened the door to Havel’s tower and he just fell down dead. I was like “that’s right, you big bitch.”

          • Knight Solaire

            I by chance decided to kill Lautrec, not even knowing about the fire keeper

        • Metaphysical Anus

          How did you know my plans?

          • Knight Solaire

            Because there is always a servant of the dark round every corner!

          • Metaphysical Anus

            First single: nihilistic misathropy
            Second single: Knight Solaire praises the sun no longer, for that cunt is dead.

          • Knight Solaire

            I’ll just hope the chosen undead becomes a gravelord servant.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Third single: Knight Solaire raped by spiky tentacles of the underworld (I’m gonna need you for the music video).

          • Knight Solaire

            I suppose the fourth will be “Hauling Gwyn out of the fire to murder him more”? R.I.P. Dad- I mean Lord of Sunlight.

          • Metaphysical Anus

            That’s a good name. Thanks dude. So are up for the music video?

          • Knight Solaire

            Sorry, I’ll be busy of the one where the warriors of sunlight slay Kaathe and Frampt

          • Metaphysical Anus

            Some other time?

          • Knight Solaire

            Maaaybe

        • Randall Thor

          Well, I have friends in a band called Soulmass that are releasing a Dark Souls themed death metal album.

          • Knight Solaire

            Well, when it comes out I’d appreciate a bandcamp link or such!

    • Metaphysical Anus

      First single: praise the sun for it shines bright!

  • Stockhausen

    I don’t like power metal, but I will give this the øl’ college try when I get home.

    (Pro tip: sneak øl, the Norwegian word for beer, into everyday conversation for maximvm kvlt statvs)

    • Metaphysical Anus

      What about burning churches?

    • Poop Mango

      I try to sneak the Norwegian word for “speed” into the air around me at any opportune moment.

      • lolbuttz

        Hehehehe.

    • Randall Thor

      Let me know what you think!

  • Randall Thor

    THIS is true metal!

  • POWER FLUSH

  • Bumsmuggler

    I would bumsmuggle this.