ShadowStrike – Legends Of Human Spirit
ShadowStrike is a five-piece band formed in Long Island, New York, in 2010. They have created their own blend of Symphonic Power Metal for over ten years. Their own blend includes a lot of cinematic and thematic elements. With lyrical topics ranging from fantasy to pirates and music going from straight power metal to almost movie score style symphonic metal, they are diverse and have an incredibly broad skill set. They produce amazing melodies that get into the brain and take up residence with booming vocals and very tight musicianship.
- Matt Krais – Vocals & Guitars
- Sean Walls – Guitars
- Ryan Patane – Keyboards
- Jon Krais – Bass
- Zachary King – Drums
ShadowStrike’s debut full-length album, Legends Of Human Spirit, was released in 2019 via Avalon Records.
- Heart for Yearning Journey
- Fly with Me
- Fields of Valour
- The Fiery Seas and Icy Winds
- Where Sleeping Gods Await
- Forever as One
- Voice in the Night
- . A Dream of Stars
- Gales of Winter
ShadowStrike is a band you have to listen to a few times just to make sure you know where all they are going to take you on this epic journey through their soundscape. They are power metal through and through with speed to rival DragonForce and a vocalist who can go from a hefty chest voice to a soaring falsetto. Add in the occasional cinematic flurry, and you get a soundtrack for an epic journey. There are influences from every iteration of power metal in here as well. You get a throwback to the mid-1980s and new, inventive pieces that let you know these guys are on the cutting edge while still honoring the past.
Take “Heart for Yearning Journey,” for example. There are calliope music interludes thrown in at pre-planned times to bolster the feel of the music. This is showmanship and writing that is beyond the normal. This crosses into the extraordinary. It takes bold thinking to go to a place like this and even more intestinal fortitude to execute something this bold while never breaking stride. All of this is in a song that is done at just under warp speed. The rapid-fire rhythm from both the drums and the bass is incredible. The triple threat of two guitars and keyboards takes everything to the next level.
“Ascension” comes next, acting as an intro for “Fly with Me.” The former is spoken word firing the epic battle parts of the brain, gearing you up for the fight to come. This is to draw you in and make sure you are ready for the story’s next phase. Ryan’s keyboard flurry acts as the prelude to the powerful vocals and galloping rhythm. How someone gets their fingers moving that fast and that accurately is beyond my comprehension. Same for the lightning-fast guitar work. The speed of execution in this band is something truly wondrous to behold.
“Fields of Valour” is phenomenal power metal. Matt and Sean’s guitar interplay on this song is astounding. They don’t just work together; they meld into each other. They do this on every song, but sometimes it just hits harder. This is one of those times. There are some Arabesque sections, with a fantastic bass rhythm working alongside for extra emphasis that leads to a keyboard solo. This instrumental section is just stunning.
Now, we add more to the mix. “Where Sleeping Gods Await” has a horn and wind section. Adding symphonic elements to power metal is always a win-win situation when the writers have the proper skills. These writers do. The complex compositions take on a very progressive metal sound, adding more depth and breadth to the songs. These aren’t catchy little songs you might hear on the radio. These are massive creations that you have to go to the internet or your personal collection to find. This is for lovers of music that is too big to be confined to a radio format.
The ethereal, haunted tones that begin “Voice in the Night” are a beautiful lead-in to the circus-style keyboards and the eerie vocalizations. That builds to the main riff with guitars and keys in perfect three-part harmony. All of that is over the massive rhythm Jon and Zachary are pounding out. Here we have another complex tune with layers of vocals in the background and wild shifts in the tempo. The tradeoff solos of guitar and keyboards are epic. The end feeling after this song finishes is, “what did I just experience, and when can I have some more?”
The record wraps with the epic finale known as “Gales of Winter.” Clocking in at just over ten minutes, this is a journey. The song begins in bombastic fashion, with a wall of sound hitting you right from the start. Guitars work in harmony to shift the tempo and lead into the next stage. This song fires on all cylinders. The guitars are excellent, and that bass piece under the riff is *chef’s kiss* amazing. Everything about this song is epic. It is what power metal was created to do, excite the senses and transport the listener to a fantasy land where they get lost in the total experience.
It does not matter what version of power metal you love, ShadowStrike will pull your heartstrings. Whether you favor Helloween and Blind Guardian or DragonForce and Rhapsody Of Fire, there is something here for you. These guys take the best things about power and symphonic metal and smash them together into a killer musical smorgasbord of delicious tones and tempos and textures. At an hour and five minutes, they don’t skimp on the record, giving you more than you bargained for.
Take some time. Listen to the whole thing. Then listen again. This time, focus on the guitars. Next time, check out the keyboards. Backing vocals are the subject of the next playthrough. Don’t forget to go through again for the drums. Then listen for the bass. Now, once again, with all of it filtering into your brain at once. If you do this, you will find there is a lot more to this record than you heard just listening to it once. You cannot appreciate everything this album is on a single listen. Do yourself a favor and hear it for what it really is, an epic set of compositions that are worthy of the title Power Metal!
- Guitars – 10
- Rhythms – 10
- Vocals – 10
- Songwriting – 9
- Production – 9
- Overall – 9.60