ShadowStrike – Fables and Folklore
ShadowStrike is a five-piece band formed in Long Island, New York, in 2010. For over ten years, they have created their own blend of Symphonic Power Metal. 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 follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut album is an EP titled Fables And Folklore. Released in 2021, also via Avalon Records, this is the next step in the band’s evolution.
- Once Upon a Beginning
- Fables and Folklore
- Space Pirates (From the Boomerang Nebula)
- Distant Shores
This EP opens with “Once Upon A Beginning,” a lightning-fast, guitar-heavy song with some wild keyboard melodies interspersed. Again, as on their debut, ShadowStrike uses a ton of vocal layering to create their own choir. Matt’s soaring voice is the focal point, but the backing vocals are essential. They make the song bigger, giving it that massive feel of a true power metal tune. The rhythm is excellent, pounding out a tempo that does not fail to inspire some serious headbanging. Even the mellow interlude towards the end is epic. It takes talent to drop out of a dead sprint into that kind of languid melody, only to soar again to the ending.
“Fables And Folklore” comes next, opening with strings and horns. This is like an old epic movie hero soundtrack. The riff is again stellar. Matt and Sean on guitars and Ryan on keys mesh beautifully. They play together and solo with equal skill, weaving back and forth from guitar to keys and back again. The way they can all do their own thing within the tune, then join together for a wall of sound, only to separate back out and have individual solos is a skill not many bands can pull off this well.
At over nine minutes, “Space Pirates (from the Boomerang Nebula)” is a true power metal song in every sense of the word. Choir, rapid-fire drums, bassline as fast as the guitar, and then an onslaught of riffage allow this song to check every box. Progressive metal elements? Check. Epic journey? Check. This is fantasy and sci-fi wrapped into one and deserves to be listed as part of the new sound of modern power metal. The symphonic elements give it the extra bit of oomph that takes this song over the top.
The disc wraps with “Distant Shores,” a relatively tame song at under four minutes. This is short for ShadowStrike. The baritone vocals are an interesting change from the typical soaring vocals you normally get. The added choir is a nice touch, as is the spoken word midway through. Mostly orchestral, this is not the typical song from these guys. It shows a range and indicates they have the ability to create more nuanced songs that will tie the story together as a transition from one part to another. It is well done, and I look forward to more pieces like this on future releases.
This is a record that really just whets my appetite for more. The songs feel like they tell different stories, and it almost feels like this is an incomplete story. It is only an EP, so that makes sense. Still, after their debut, Legends Of Human Spirit, I want another full-length record to dive into and spend an hour or more just getting lost in the grandeur. I guess that means I’m pretty spoiled. Now we wait and hope for more…
- Guitars – 10
- Rhythms – 9
- Vocals – 10
- Songwriting – 9
- Production – 9
- Overall – 9.40