Do you believe in Destiny? Then reach deep within thineself, crusaders of light, and heed the beckoning call of Fate as it carries from the mythical kingdom of Long Island, New York. Five mighty bards hail thee to join them on an adventure for the ages as they sally forth on their quest to ignite the spark of hope that dwells within us all. Fear not the darkness here, friend, for the band of faithful warriors known as ShadowStrike show their true might on their debut full length, Legends Of Human Spirit.
Take note, dear Reader, that ShadowStrike aren’t taking the piss out of power metal so much as writing a love letter to the genre. Following a brief interlude in the form of “Ascension” (kudos to the band for mixing up the pace by throwing the expose after the first track), “Fly With Me” seeks to up the ante even more. Bigger builds, stronger riffs, sicker shredding (I mean, those solos that start at 2:35 are simply mind bending), and full-on, no holds barred orchestration beneath a catchy, singalong anthem unveil ShadowStrike in peak form. And if you thought that was good, just wait until track five. “The Fiery Seas And Icy Winds” is the overcoming track, the full-on confrontation with the darkness within. Seriously, if this chorus doesn’t spark at least something in you then you might as well hang it up and listen to DSBM for the rest of your life.
Halfway through the album, ShadowStrike smartly mix things up a bit on “Where Sleeping Gods Await.” Even the mightiest of heroes need a break, and the orchestral interlude at the beginning of the track helps break up listener fatigue from the breakneck speed of the previous (and subsequent) songs. When the full band does kick in, the tempo is held back quite a bit and the vocals really get a chance to shine, sounding more like they are from a proper musical more than a power metal album. And, to mix things up even further, the solo section kicks off unexpectedly with a saxophone solo that comes completely out of left field, yet somehow fits snugly alongside the guitars and keys.
Shame on me for getting this far without mentioning just how superb the bass work is on Legends Of Human Spirit. Rather than being content to simply laying down whole notes to bridge the gap between the drums and guitars, the bass flurries furiously along with the shredding six stringers. Unafraid to embrace sweeping walks on the chorus of “A Dream Of Stars” or especially on “Fields Of Valor,” the bass stands as a secret weapon for the band, delivering smite after smite to channel additional power to the band’s already epic sound.
For those who have been following the legend of ShadowStrike thus far, the album’s epic closer will come as no surprise, as “Gales Of Winter” was also the opening track to the band’s 2014 Infinite Power EP. If there is a single song on the album that fully captures the power of the self to overcome adversity with the power of friendship and some absolutely choice shredding, it’s this one. The re-recording for the album really helps to elevate the song to even more glorious realms of glory and fit it in the context of the band’s newer material to a T. The choice to close with this feels like it’s bringing the band’s somewhat prolonged infancy full circle, opening the gates for an even more promising future.
Against all odds, the strike from the shadows lands true, dancing just outside the realms of full on parody to take the most beloved aspects of the genre to their logical extremes. Incorporating every bit of magick, faeriedust, unnecessary letters, Disney musickals, and a connection to the yearning for wholesome adventure that dwells amongst our inner children, Legends Of Human Spirit succeeds in its mission of sparking the light within our spirits, the very essence of our hearts, to burn brightly amidst a world oft shrouded in fear and hopelessness. So take up the standard of light, might warriors of steel, and release the shining essence of your heart boldly upon the Earth!
I need stuff like Legends of Human Spirit in my life. And I am betting others do, too. Great review, Ryan. This band is stellar and deserves all the praise coming its way.
Couldn’t agree more! Usually not my thing but I havent been able to keep it out of my head all week! Thanks for your kind words